Mechanical Bikes

July 30, 2023

I’ve been trying to teach my kids how to ride bikes this last weekend. It has been fun seeing them improve and also fun to catch up with the new technology that has been introduced in the last couple of years. My wife and I sold our road bikes around the time COVID started. There had been a surge in demand and little supply at the time. Neither of us planned to do any riding given our lifestyles with a two and three year old at the time. I was getting my exercise through running since there was less friction to start a workout and we no longer lived near a good bike trail. It seemed like it was such a long time before we’d be able to ride with them, but 3 years have passed and while they might not be riding that fast, we’re almost at the point where we could take them out on a trail.

At the time, I owned a Trek 2.3 aluminum road bike with a Shimano 105 groupset and Bontrager Aeolus carbon fiber wheels. My wife had a newer Trek Lexa with 105 also. I could see that disc brakes were coming to road bikes so I was happy enough to sell my bike and wait for that. I also wanted to try a carbon fiber bike in the future. Tires were also getting larger and I thought the ones I was running were too skinny given my body type.

Electronic shifting was also on the horizon, yet that was one upgrade I was more hesitant about. I watched a GCN youtube video trying to get an older man who was set in his ways to try a newer road bike. This guy had a 20 year old road bike with rim brakes, external cabling, no aerodynamic water bottle, etc. and that’s how he thought all bikes should be. IIRC, one of the comments under the video really hit the nail on the head. They said something like electronic shifting loses the feel and soul that you get with a mechanical touch. I guess it’s sort of similar to manual transmission cars. Enthusiasts enjoy those cars because they have soul and you get to feel the inner workings of things. There is something special about interacting directly with a machine in that way.

So that changed my perspective on electrical shifters. If I want the mechanical feel, I would buy a trek madone from the USPS/discovery era, but if I want a road bike for fitness, then I would choose something more modern. With that thought, eletronic shifters fall into the same bucket as disc brakes for me, so I think my next road bike would have electronic shifting. It even seems like it could be less maintenance heavy due to auto trim correction/setup.