Thursday, May 23, 2019

The wheel, the lever, and the inclined plane...and press fit

The wheel, the lever, and the inclined plane represent fundamental principles that underlie many more complex tools and machines. They're building blocks of more advanced technology that took us out of the stone age.

Threads use the principle of the inclined plane, to create a secure joint that can be incrementally tightened to a desired firmness (torque) at a desired rate (thread pitch)

Then came press fit. It's the equivalent of pounding it in with a rock. Sure, you are better off to squeeze it in with a controlled press -- utilizing threads on the tool -- but you're basically just shoving it in there and hoping it stays securely and functions quietly.

Yesterday was press fit day in the workshop. One bike was a carbon Salsa full suspension mountain bike that the owner cleans with a hose, "but only carefully." It had noises in the bottom bracket and headset. Videos I watched to learn more about the inner mysteries stated that press fit BBs are simple and easy to work on, but noted that you should only remove one when you are planning to install a new one. What the assembler hath pounded in there, thou shalt not pound out. And pound them out you do.

One tool, from Enduro, used gentle methods of persuasion, but all of the others called for an assistant and a hammer.

The second patient was an Orbea road bike that we've been trying to get dialed in for about a month. The parts on it were transferred from an older Orbea that had cracked. It has a mystery noise that sounded like creaky bottom bracket, but may prove to be a drive train noise amplified by the large, resonant carbon fiber frame. Fiddling with that is time consuming, and time is money. If you're getting compensated for the time, it's a win. It's unclear at this time how fully we will be compensated. When a job drags on with mysterious afflictions the billable hours get blurry.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Revenge of the nerds

I've had a to do a lot of counseling in the past week or so, helping customers who had state-of-the-art ten speed drive trains and now find themselves relegated to the mediocre masses when they need parts. As I explained how the bike industry is not their friend it struck me how the tone changed during the 1990s from its earlier cheerful bike nerd persona at the end of the '80s.

As I have posted previously, promotional literature for the early mass-produced mountain bikes actually suggested that the owner of one of these affordable fun machines might start "riding more and driving less." But as the market exploded, bringing in unprecedented amounts of cash and public interest, the tone shifted quickly to technological hype. The 1990s brought the No Fear craze, and the rise of the badass image. Mountain biking events still presented themselves as welcoming to all abilities, but the range of abilities was rapidly widening, with those on the crumbling ridge crest of the leading edge getting the most publicity.

Early mountain bike evolution refined the parameters of a rigid frame, retreating steadily from the relatively slack geometry of early models to something with snappier handling. Roomy rear triangles shrank to only sufficient clearance for the tires of the time, to make the bikes stronger climbers. Head angles north of 70 degrees were the norm. Some might sneer at this as "roadie influence." I never tire of pointing out that the originators of mountain biking were roadies, and all-around bike nerds. The exclusive category specialists came in once things were rolling, to beef up the BMX influence and feed off of the anti-roadie sentiment that is always too ready to spring up. In any case, race courses shaped the bikes and the bikes shaped the race courses. The tighter, steeper frames also worked better for mixed-media riding. That made sense because so many people were using the bike for all their riding needs. People were dumping nice road bikes for cheap, cheap money as a down payment on a mountain bike. Other people, who had not owned a bike in years, were buying in and finding that they liked riding more than just trails. The bike nerds almost got their wish. But category fracturing had already taken hold.

Even as suspension was in its infancy, the sponsored riders and ambitious racers were pushing for bikes to meet their specific desires. The downhill crowd had the most stringent need for ballistic missiles that they could control at the greatest possible speed. But effective suspension had a strong appeal for everyone on rough surfaces. And before that, Shimano had been pushing the Shifter Wars, and dominating OEM spec until the SRAM lawsuit in 1990 threw a speed bump in front of them. The industry borrowed from the computer industry and drug dealers for its business model. Both of these models consume the consumer. They are hostile to longevity of both products and users. Was this in part motivated by bitterness that the peace and freedom of the original simple bike had been cast aside for gizmos and bravado? Or was it purely motivated by simple greed?

Looking back over the history of human inventiveness in general, humans invented items that made their lives easier. A stick, a rock, a vine, these mutated into levers, spears, arrows, hammers, axes, string, rope, and so on. A tool would be made to perform a function. A better tool would displace the earlier version. Before industrialization, mass production called for numerous artisans performing similar tasks or coordinating their efforts, but the goal was to make life easier. If a job could be done in less time, that meant you could do more jobs or have more of your irreplaceable time to spend on other things. Even well into the age of industrialization, things were built to last, even if that was just accidental. I was born in time to experience the end of the Era of Durability. It really did happen, although little sign of it remains today.

On the consumer side, you didn't want to waste your time and resources on an item that didn't hold up. There was no Amazon to deliver new crap by drone to whatever GPS coordinates you provide. There wasn't a Dollar Store or a big box retailer every 15 miles. A time will come when that is true again. We may be back to sticks and rocks and vines by then, or we may simply rediscover the concepts of durability and longevity.

The current waves of obsolescence may be the revenge of the nerds. Even if they didn't intend it that way, it's working out that way. Before 12-speed has fully penetrated the market, here comes 13-speed. Shimano had patent drawings for 14 back in the 1990s. Tinfoil chains indeed. Prepare to be penetrated, market, over and over. The fact that it's asinine and destructive and wasteful has never mattered. What matters is giving the tech-obsessed market segments one fix after another until they die or go into rehab.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Lean in until your face hits the ground

In the early 1980s, I worked for a sail loft. Every winter, at the beginning of January, we went on overtime, six days a week, ten hours a day. As a sailor, I thought of the sailing season as the busy season. It hadn't occurred to me that people would get more work done on vital equipment like the sails themselves when the boat was laid up for the winter. As soon as it was dumped on me, it seemed obvious. For many weeks during winter service, the loft crew worked like zombies, wending our way through towering piles of Dacron. The ceiling in our building was low, which made the mountains of varying whiteness seem even more immense. New cloth was dazzling under the glare of fluorescent lights. Old sails looked like old snow, in varying shades of gray.

In the short daylight of winter, with years of life ahead of me, I could burrow into the tunnel of work without too many distractions. The glaciers of sailcloth ground slowly across the landscape until the meltdown in early spring. As the days lengthened and outdoor life beckoned, work receded to grant more time.

This spring at the shop, the repair load has been a little heavier than in recent years, and we're down to one and a half mechanics. El Queso Grande has recovered enough from surgery to be able to wrench carefully, but he also still has to run the business. And with only two of us on duty on any given day, any influx of customers brings service work to a halt. It has created a mini version of the winter service overload. The difference is that it is hitting during the rise of daylight, when life outside the building calls strongly. I'm also decades older. "Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste," as the song goes. Life outside that particular building always calls strongly. It was different when we were the bartenders at the months-long party that was bike season. Now we're just aging servants for competing aristocracies.

I got talked into giving up one of my days off last week, to try to get ahead a little on the repair load. Not only did it barely make a dent in the waiting pile, it completely screwed me up for the rest of the week. I slid into quitting time on the last day basically face down. As much as I sense that I am supposed to be ashamed for taking time off, we're talking about irreplaceable life here.

El Queso Grande refers to my days off as "vacation." A good servant of the cult of the workaholic, he has absorbed the philosophy that if work is good, overwork is better. If he'd lucked into something more lucrative than the cross-country ski and bike industries he might actually take time off himself, and delegate more of the mucking out to the flunkies. But the country as a whole suffers from the perception that we should all be working harder and longer, rather than figuring out how we can all be helping each other to work less. Many hands make light work, says the proverb, but in the world we have created, many hands make depressed wages and high unemployment.

I look out the shop window at drivers coming and going from the deli out back, or poaching our parking lot to go to other businesses nearby. The trucks are big and loud, with large-bore exhaust pipes belching fumes as the vehicles are left idling. I get to read the stickers on people's vehicles, waving fists of defiance against any calls for restraint. I watch us lose the long, slow-motion war into which my generation was born, to which most of my peers surrendered. Their children and their children's children show increasing conflict, not increasing convergence, but they all drive. Drive, drive, drive. Does it matter whether the driver that runs you into the ditch was distracted or hostile? Just going to work, by any mode, is stressful and depressing. And then I'm at work, solving problems that are sometimes interesting, but that add up to a big fat zero -- as far as I can tell -- in the conflict of values playing out nationally and globally.

Based on the entirety of human history, this can't end well, and will probably end soon. Wealth has always been concentrated, so any attempt to spread it around always has to assure the holders of it that it will always technically be theirs. And any attempt to improve the quality of life in general has to be framed around profitability. Forget that profit has no basis in nature, where breaking even is the ideal. Humans can imagine times of shortage and compete for things that haven't happened yet. Humans can create shortage to manipulate markets, and exploit misfortunes both accidental and manufactured.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

The casual relationship of cyclists and underwear

Bike shorts are designed to be worn without anything underneath them. They became popular in the 1970s when the legions of new riders in their cutoff jeans were finding out what happens when you spend long hours in the saddle, grinding the seams of your pants into your tender anatomy.

Without posting links that include lots of pictures of dudes in jockstraps, take my word for it that the support garment was invented in the late 19th Century for bike riders. A key feature was that it had no structure in the contact zones, being designed to hold the floppy parts without creating friction between rider and saddle. Moving forward in history, the ubiquitous black wool bike shorts looked like something out of the 1890s as well. But why mess with something that works? Wool is a versatile fabric. The original liners were made of chamois, a soft suede, to combat chafing, not provide padding. Chamois requires some special handling to keep it nice, so synthetic chamois was developed to make care easier. Then came Lycra, and the image of road cyclists was forever damaged.

Lycra shorts have a couple of advantages over wool. In hot weather they can be a lot more comfortable. They dry quickly after washing or a summer rain shower. They're more streamlined, so the wind -- and adjacent riders -- have less to grab. But I've never liked the shrink-wrap look. Modern baggy shorts go too far the other way, of course. Modern humans are all about extremes instead of sensible navigation of a range of options.

The one common characteristic is the lack of underwear.

In the summer of 1975, when I was working in Miami, more or less living in my car, but spending most of my time on my bike or at a friend's machine shop, I spent a lot of time in bike shorts. I used my underwear to wash my car, because I didn't have any other rags, and the dirt was mostly water soluble. After laundering, the old tighty whiteys were kinda gray, but sanitized. What did I care? No one was going to see them unless they watched me washing my car. Some people I stayed with for a while seemed offended that I didn't respect my skivvies more. I figured that everything had to earn its place.

Over the decades, the life cycle of undershorts has led inevitably to the rag bag. While I do my best not to show them when they are in their active duty phase as actual underwear, once they've moved down to rag status I forget about their former role. Usually I rip the elastic waistbands off of them, but sometimes I forget.

This specimen got pretty oily when I was lubing several bike chains after winter storage. Not wanting to leave it in the house, I put it out in the woodshed and forgot about it. It was lying there when several deliveries were made. Only after several days did I think about how it might have looked. "That's that guy who leaves his underwear lying around." Add it to the list of my other eccentricities.

Swarmed

Like the arrival of the black flies, bike repairs start with one or two that suddenly turn into a swarm.

Dressed in surgical grubs

The brake replacement on that Cannondale F900 went very smoothly. The calipers practically hopped onto the mounting tabs by themselves.

The bolts in the spacer kit were too long, but the hardware store is a short walk down the sidewalk. This was just part of the test fitting.


To bleed the brakes after trimming the lines, I removed the rear caliper from the frame and fastened it to a fixture I made years ago for bleeding the rear brakes on some e-bikes.
I had to redirect the line slightly to get a continuous rising path for the air bubbles.

The next bike in the queue was not as lucky. The bike had SRAM Guide RS brakes that had been silently recalled several years ago by SRAM. The master cylinder pistons stick, preventing the brakes from retracting properly. He's actually arranged to get them fixed for free where he bought the bike, so that's working out nicely.

SRAM brake guy had initially asked us to reseal his tubeless tires. They had the usual giant scab of dried snot in the bottom of each tire, along with a peeling crust around the inside of the casings. I cleaned things out, poured in ample doses of Finish Line tire sealant, and inflated the tires to installation pressure. The customer has had to travel a lot, so he hasn't needed his bike for a couple of weeks. This is good, because the tires are not sealing quickly. The sidewalls are very porous. Each time I repressurize them they seal a little more, but it's taking time and a lot of follow-up rotating and flipping to make sure that sealant gets distributed evenly and stays in place long enough to flow into all the little holes.
I use a lot of medical metaphors in the backshop, but now we actually have tires that need post-op care and physical therapy. We need nursing staff to handle of all of this follow-up care.


Another bike came in to have tires sealed. These Maxxis tires are definitely tubeless ready. Seating them was pretty quick and easy.

Next on the stand after the $4,000 Kona was this Columbia boat anchor.
Just another tuneup. It isn't even old enough to be a real classic, so they had to label it as a classic:

After threading internal cables on this fancy road frame, I'm ready to try building a ship in a bottle:

I'm starting to enjoy working on all this shit that I would never want to own. Working in the bike shop used to be like working in the candy store. I saw lots of stuff that I might like to have. That took a real nose dive in the rise of technofascism in the 1990s. I fought the fascists for as long as I could, but they know how to appeal to the technolemmings. Now I just keep my own simple stuff running as best I can and take the money from the lemmings as they queue up and troop dutifully over cliff after cliff. The rise of acceptable complexity was subtle. Each new generation of riders knows only what they find when they take up riding. That's their base line. The industry keeps trying to entice with technology when what the bike business really needs is 90 percent advocacy and education, and 10 percent technical refinement.

With the proliferation of tire sizes, not even bike hooks are simple anymore:
We had to take time to substitute a selection of new hook sizes in both the sales and repair areas to accommodate the range of wheel sizes.

It's been a crappy spring for training. Here's my trusty fixed gear being held up by nature's kickstand a few weeks ago on a side trip into the woods:
It hardly seems believable, but the snow is gone now, replaced by repeated storms of raw rain and cold.

In the triage of repair jobs, I will often take one or more out of sequence because they seem straightforward. It makes sense to cut the queue down as quickly as possible. But these are often the jobs that turn into total tar pits.
This cheap mountain bike was in for a tune up. It had a very loose bottom bracket. Because cheap bikes often have cup and cone bottom brackets made to look like sealed cartridge units, I had to pull the crank arms off to do anything. Fake sealed bottom brackets don't have wrench flats or pin holes, so you have to pull the crank to adjust them.

Because the bike frame was full of water, everything was corroded in place. It wasn't obvious, dark rust, just a binding roughness of initial oxidation. It still required extra leverage. The bearings were a cheap cartridge unit. But we didn't have the size (73x113) in stock. The cheapness of it actually offered a slim chance at repair. You can knock the cheap units apart to separate the bearings. But we didn't have those in stock, either. Because the bearings are designed to fit inside the cartridge that fits inside the bottom bracket shell, they're smaller than any of the bearings normally used in bike repairs. I could order them from a bearing supply company, but that defeated the purpose of battlefield surgery. We can -- and did -- order a new complete unit. The only reason I went into it was that the repair tag had an expedited deadline written on it.

When we get slammed, we tell people that we are backed up at least a week to ten days. Some customers are fine with that and more. But then we get in-fill, with people who come later and need it sooner. Because some customers are fine with the long wait, we can slot these other jobs into the spaces. But the spaces don't really exist, because the long wait was based on the time needed for one overloaded tech to dig through the pile. I could pour a couple of months of my life down the mineshaft of other people's wants, but I have had a lifelong addiction to my own time. The job I took for supplemental income 30 years ago has turned out to be my primary income. I'm still at it because not too many people want to do what I do. But I have become no more valuable for my rarity. It's hard enough to be there for the length of time that I am, let alone flushing away more irreplaceable time on a job that almost no one respects, for a class of vehicle that most other road users despise.

The majority of riders now have no intention of ever riding on the public right of way. Bicycles used to be vehicles of freedom. The original mountain bikes were appealing not just because a rider could go on trails, but because a rider could now go anywhere. The first waves rode like kids again, down the street, across the park, into the woods, over and through anything they could. But after a while it evolved into a way to make bicycles go away. And that's where it's headed today. As more attention is paid to transportation design in built up areas where "the bicycle makes sense," anything outside that evolving norm becomes a bike-free zone in popular perception. Bicycles are being put in their place. Anything out of place is fair game. It's early in the process, but bike advocates need to pay attention to where it's headed.

The repair queue keeps growing. It ranges from a cruddy Columbia to an $11,000 Specialized Tarmac. El Queso Grande had surgery on his wrist and arm, so he's not turning any wrenches. And he has to do everything else to run his business. A shop that can barely function with three people, preferably four, keeps slogging along most days with only two.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thrill seekers and thrill avoiders

Yet another former road rider came in yesterday, looking for a bike to use on dirt roads and mild trails. She doesn't want a sit-up-and-beg path bike, with high handlebars and a bar stool seat, but she doesn't want the current version of a mountain bike, with high-volume, low-pressure tires and lots of suspension travel. She also explicitly said that the "gravel grinder" category hadn't attracted her. We discussed some options and she went off to do more research. What she ends up riding is not as relevant as her motives for buying it. She is surrendering, retreating, and regrouping away from the battle zone that the roads have become. She makes an interesting comparison to a rider who came in about a week ago.

A pleasant, friendly, lean and muscular tattooed dude came in to check the shop out. He asked about trails in the area. I gave him the rundown on local attractions, from the rake-and-ride stuff in Sewall Woods and Abenaki to the professionally built course on Wolfeboro conservation land off the Cotton Valley Trail just beyond Fernald Station. He asked about "features." I directed him to the Wolfeboro Singletrack Alliance website, where he found pictures. He summed up the riders in the photos as "kind of lycraed-out, but okay." He liked what he saw of the features. The designer and builder of the trails has ascended to trail builder heaven in Bentonville, Arkansas, which gives you some idea of his capability.

We moved over to the sales floor. He looked at our modest selection of mountain bikes, priced at only a little over a thousand dollars, and slightly higher. For all of its reputation as a money town, most of the year-round residents in Wolfe City are scraping by like everybody else. Somehow we've all let ourselves grow accustomed to the shrinking dollar, so a thousand dollars doesn't raise an eyebrow the way it used to. Forget whether it should. It doesn't. We do have less expensive bikes, but they wouldn't hold up to much really sporty technical riding. Thanks, bike industry!

As we talked about the bikes on the floor and riding in general, he seemed to be trying to appreciate our similarities more than focus on our differences. He talked about the rush of surviving scary maneuvers on the trail. I talked about holding my line on the commute with a tractor trailer inches from my shoulder. He equated the adrenaline rushes, but he seeks his, whereas I am just as happy not to have any. I've never been much of a thrill seeker, even when I was taking risks. I deal with them when they're sent my way, but I don't miss them when they aren't. If he sees a commonality, it does improve relations. It does no good to belabor the wasteful extravagance of purely recreational riding -- no matter how ballsy -- on a trail to nowhere.

Am I judging? A little bit. But I remind myself that human existence is entirely pointless, so how individuals spend their brief span is up to them. I happen to ask myself what the social costs are, whenever I do anything. That does not mean that I am able to eliminate them from my own activities, merely that I note them and try to balance my personal gratifications with a nebulous concept of the greater good. I've noted before that we tend to compare our pastimes to the whole menu of available gratifications, and find our place based on how bad they are for the public more than how much actual benefit they provide. The recreational riders support their position by saying that they offer more potential bait to get a sedentary species out of its chair and into some physical activity. To that extent they are doing good. I look beyond that, though, to the ghettoization of cycling, chasing us off of the public right of way and onto closed playgrounds, where we can be a good little special interest, rather than a tool of general well-being and the humanization of the developed landscape.

On my initial road rides this season, drivers have been totally mellow. But I have not gone on the worse roads yet.

Years ago I made the choice to expend my aggression and fitness on transportation cycling, regardless of where life took me. It was pretty easy in a small city with commuting distances under eight miles one-way -- sometimes well under. In many ways, my best apartment was the grubby, unheated slum I lived in for a year, less than a mile from where I worked, with no hills in between. I could do my time in the salt mine and then sprint home to eat my unimaginative meals and forage in my imagination for what I hoped would be popular ideas. Now the riding distance is much longer, the terrain vastly more challenging, the meals slightly more sophisticated, and the ideas still elusive. Transportation cycling provided a baseline of riding even if I didn't have time to train for racing or take a tour. I didn't have to make time for a separate activity. I merely got to expand my riding when time and finances allowed.

Road cycling should not be a separate thing. Rider accommodations should be fundamental to road design and driver education. We've let the roads turn into motor speedways. I understand the addictive appeal of driving like an asshole. I don't have to drive for very long to turn into a complete asshole. Mind you I probably have more of a pre-existing tendency that way, but I can tell from the behavior of other drivers that I am not a rare case. It's so easy to punch the throttle. Peer pressure joins the weight of your foot, easing the gas pedal down harder. Time is short, risk is cumulative. Go faster just one more time to get where you need to go. Everyone else is doing it. You have no choice unless you insist on it.

As someone naturally combative -- regardless of whether I am good at it -- I tend to persist. Stick an elbow out. If someone passes you closely, lean in to block the next one. But it's not a war. The car has the clear advantage in actual combat. It's a contest of wills. And it shouldn't even be that.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Not many people could do my job. But who would want to?

On the Facebook page of a sort-of-young mountain bike rider, he made reference to the three whole weeks he spent working for a bike shop. He dismissed most of the bikes he had to work on as “shit.” It was a classic example of the arrogance of a category-specific rider who ranks the whole world based on his personal choices in technology and obsession.

The arrogant cyclist in any category is a common enough character to have become the stereotype of all bike riders as viewed by our hostile audience. Almost any reviews of a bike shop will mention one or more examples of dismissive conceit. And wherever non riders encounter riders, someone’s feathers will be ruffled. Disregarding the small percentage of hardcore non cyclists who will always find a reason to hate, we cyclists have to admit that a sizable percentage of us do ride in stupid and offensive ways. It is certainly not the majority, but it’s hardly rare. Riders who are impressed with themselves will expect everyone else to be equally impressed.

I love pulling off a good maneuver just as much as anyone. And when I ride the multi-use path I try to maintain my flow and give the pedestrians only as much as I have to for safety and basic courtesy. Based on the expressions on most of them, it’s never enough.

As for shit bikes, most people have the bike they feel they can afford. In 1980 I tried to work the sales floor at the shop where I worked at the time, to see if I could get more people to buy better bikes. Once in a while, it worked. But most people’s eyes would  glaze when I tried to get them to buy up from nutted axles, steel rims, and vinyl vasectomy seats. That was when we sold mostly just ten-speeds and three-speeds for adults, and coaster brakes and BMX bikes for kids. When I reentered the bike business in 1989, I had more success convincing customers to aim a little higher. Even during the recession of 1988-‘92, people seemed to be able to scrape up the money for a mountain bike. But that boom is long gone, along with solidly built bikes that cost $600.

Some shops are lucky enough to be able to specialize in one or two categories they particularly like. To do that, you either need a source of independent wealth, or a strong customer base in your favorite market segment. In a rural town, you need to attract a lot of people from outside the area to finance your dream shop. Otherwise, you will have to make your living by servicing the bikes you call shit.

Youth makes a mechanic arrogant in two ways. On a basic level, young adults are automatically susceptible to arrogance as a matter of simple biology. It’s the time of life when animals try to establish breeding territory and compete for mates. Humans are complex creatures. We filter our simple urges through our technology and experience to form our self image and world view. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of bike shop snots are males between age 20 and 40.

Anyone stupid or trapped enough to have stayed in the bike business for more than two decades has probably had all the arrogance crushed out of them. We can despise WalMart bikes because they are truly a ripoff and a danger to the people who get stuck with them. But there’s a whole world of bikes that would bore and annoy a young firebrand or a bike snob, that still have value and deserve a measure of consideration.

My opinions on bikes are shaped more by economics than by the cutting edge sophistication of their technology. I definitely prefer working on some things more than others. The tweaky new stuff is stupidly expensive and kind of a pain in the ass. Really cheap stuff presents its own challenge. Working on something twenty years old can be a relief. The people who taught me about bikes instilled a respect for the craft. It's a point of self respect to be able to work on whatever anyone throws at you, and to know something of the history and evolution of our machines.

Young riders and mechanics are handicapped by what they’ve never seen. The world begins for them at the point where they began to pay attention. Every generation goes through the same thing. A set of assumptions is provided. Only a minority will look beyond that. Even then, their analysis has to work with their grasp of basic principles. The basics for a bike nerd starting out in the mid 1970s are all cup and cone bearings and things that secure with lock nuts. Someone joining up in the 21st Century may have had some cheap equipment with cup and cone hubs and a fake sealed bottom bracket, but they surely aspire to something with all cartridge bearings, hydraulics, and electronics. Road, mountain, or other, sophistication afflicts all categories. A fashionable conceit can afflict each of them as well.

Modern riders are resigned to the idea that the components they buy and the tools they buy to work on them are all going on the junk pile in a couple of years, to be replaced by the compete set of new stuff they buy, for as long as they can afford to buy. Addicts spend money on their habit. Dealers keep feeding them stronger and stronger doses. If your riding style involves frequent crashes on rough surfaces, nothing will last long anyway. Some burn hot and short. Some endure.