By James Durand
As you probably know, I live for cycling.
Whether it’s sports, my family vacations, or my career, there are bikes involved. In the mid 90’s I entered the bike industry and have been involved in almost every aspect along the way.
I’ve seen many innovations throughout the years and have been lucky enough to see the first steps of many technological advancements in mountain biking.
Lots of these died on the engineer’s desk, others stumbled for a few years before being fine tuned to become amazing advancements, and a few were home runs on day one. I’m sure this is how many industries work. The engineers, inventors, and dreamers have to throw a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks, and through trials and tribulations, we have ended up with bikes that make riding smoother, faster, more fun, and definitely more accessible.
So as much as there have been a few bad ideas that never should have made it to market, the upside is all the great ideas that may never have happened without this process.
What is James rambling about this week you ask???
I went for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan last week and marvelled at the level of technology. If you’re not familiar, it’s a huge machine at the hospital that engulfs your body for 30 minutes and takes detailed images of your innards to decipher what you’ve damaged in your latest mountain bike crash. (I’m sure if you don’t mountain bike, but are injured or ill, they use it for that too … probably.) In cycling, one of the best advancements ever has been the inception and progression of disc brakes. They are powerful, simple, and easy to adjust and maintain. You can brake with one finger, adjust your pad compounds to suit your terrain, weather conditions, or riding style, and you can stop on a dime. The disc brake arguably makes a bigger improvement to your riding than any other technology to date. So much so that this technology has been adapted to road riding, gravel riding, trials bikes, and I’ve even seen a unicycle or two with disc brakes.
One more thing about the MRI. I took my hearing aids out, placed foam ear plugs in each ear, and added sound dampening ear muffs on top, and the level of noise in there sounded like a war zone, or worse, the loudest Vegas casino to the tenth degree.
The noise was unbearable at some points, but there was nothing I could do except endure the oncoming headache.
Such amazing technology, with millions invested in design, yet they couldn’t figure out how to make it quiet? Shortly after my MRI, I went mountain biking in the rain and was quickly reminded that the bike industry has similar issues.
Disc brakes offer huge benefits, a better riding experience, and more safety and control for all that enjoy cycling, but when they’re wet, they squeal endlessly. It’s really annoying.
Maybe the MRI crew and the disk brake crew should sit down over a beer and figure something out. I’ll probably need another MRI at some point in my life and I ride in the rain a lot. I truly appreciate the technology that allows me to do both, but can’t some super smart engineers please figure out how to get us some peace and quiet?
I’m James Durand and I’m Going’ Ridin’…