Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Wonder, as I Assemble

Is SRAM a dummy corporation set up to make Shimano look good? These trigger shifters are lame. The ergonomics are bad. The lever throw is long. The return lever is badly placed... No wonder Shimano finally relented in court and let them produce them. Maybe it was all a put-on.

Think about it. SRAM absorbed Avid for brakes and Sachs for chains. If the shifting systems sink the company, will the suction take these valid Shimano competitors down with it? Rockshox would just be an unfortunate casualty. SRAM's demise would be one-stop shopping to put Shimano in uncontested control of the bike industry. It's nearly there as it is.

Shades of Suntour. It takes me back to the compatibility wars of the early 1990s. Cyclists lost a lot of choices during the mountain bike boom.

I don't see how SRAM can win. Shimano has better name recognition. What the hell's a SRAM? At least you can point to some guys named Shimano. So this has to run its bloody course.

The bike industry made it through its first century-plus using paying customers as product testers. That doesn't work as well anymore, since the industry got customers to expect a higher level of sophistication. You can't rush to market with a complex product and make in-season changes when you're dealing with global supply lines and so much proprietary product. You can't get a manufacturer to spec one or two pieces to showcase them, because the rival company is doing all it can to enforce compatibility only with its own line.

Brakes are still independent. Drive trains must be complete. So if SRAM doesn't have the financial muscle to make sweet OEM deals, they're as boned as Suntour was in the early 1990s. The stuff doesn't work quite as well as Shimano's and they can't get enough of it out there to get financial momentum to make improvements.

Maybe the other divisions of SRAM will be able to carry the drive trains for as long as it takes to get them really working. It better not be too long.

Funny how they want to flared side plates on the 9-speed chains. We're calling them "Sramano."


Yokota Fritz said...

Are you talking about the new road group? Did you get your hands on them?

cafiend said...

No, mountain.