Technology in cycling

To be a fan of cycling to to be constantly barraged with reports on cycling’s technological progress. The ProTour, as it currently stands, can most accurately be described as a fast moving advertisement for the gear that the riders are using. Cycling is sometimes called the human-powered F1, but unlike F1, most punters can go out and purchase the equipment that the riders are using. Imagine doughnut-ing in Lewis Hamilton’s car.

In the week of LCD Soundsystem’s last ever gig (I maintain that this is bigger cycling-related news than Frank Schleck’s aerodynamic [man boobs](http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/8000/UCI-investigating-Frank-Schlecks-Camel-front-in-Criterium-International-TT.aspx). What else will we train to in the winter months? No more techno-filled turbo trainer sessions! Please!) ask yourself this question: how technologically advanced does my bike need to be? Anyone who immediately answers ‘only a bit’, take the rest of the day off. And don’t read the rest of this.

The paradigm for technology’s involvement in cycling will resemble LCD Soundsystem’s ingenious meshing and threshing of the ages. Your bicycle should be the cycling equivalent of this blissful marriage of [vintage 80’s beats](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDwhZEFk5W4) and 21st Century synthesizers. This produces [offspring](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNA-4tnM_xY) one can be besotted with forever and ever.

That isn’t where cycling is at right now. At one end of cycling’s spectrum are the [hyperspeed heroes](http://www.assos.com/) and at the other, [retro-fetishists](http://www.rapha.cc/). This division is stretched by ever more [inventive and expensive marketing](http://www.rapha.cc/rapha-continental) that strives to be ‘epic’, ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘beautiful’. Don’t forget the riders who amuse themselves with [pretensions](http://www.amazon.co.uk/Metier-Seasons-Professional-Cyclist/dp/0956423329) to grandeur – although I really rate Michael Barry – and teams that refuse to talk about themselves except in [breathless tones](http://www.cervelo.com/en_us/video-documentaries/) and with pouting faces.

The buff and bluster of both camps can force you down one of two paths: Is steel real? Or is carbon the answer? This is where we turn to everyone’s favourite over-weight New Yorker, [James Murphy](http://www.avclub.com/articles/an-open-letter-to-lcd-soundsystems-james-murphy-fr,53960/), for our answer.

Being able to measure how many watts you can produce won’t necessarily make you produce more watts. Having a 7kg bike is wonderful, but this svelteness pales in comparison to the weight of you (yes, you!) who paid £3 for a Chocolate Macchiato last week and survived the sugar-coma to tell the tale. Aero wheels might save you a couple of seconds per kilometre in a time trial, but I dare you to try to true those wheels without a Masters in Material Science.

Equally, be suspicious of anyone who rides outmoded equipment due to some inherent superiority. Bottom Brackets becoming ‘external’ has made them lighter, cheaper, easier to maintain and stiffer. That is what I call progress.

Whenever you are presented with a piece of cycling equipment, ask what James Murphy would ask (if he rode a bicycle, hypothetically speaking – I know that this metaphor has become soggy). How much fun can be had with it? The occasional [£130 Jersey](http://www.rapha.cc/cross-jersey-1-2) is excusable, or at least I hope so, or I will have my Cycling Snob ID card rescinded. Don’t make a habit of it though, because the fun of cycling can disappear behind the aesthetic of cycling. And because James Murphy would get angry (again, the hypothetical James Murphy that resides in my head).

As LCD Spundsystem have ‘died’, I went for a commemorative ride up to Tibidabo, Barcelona’s mini-mountain of choice, with my friend Vincent. At one point we were caught by a young man with a super smooth pedal stroke. He was composed, calm, had his breathing under control, and generally looked the part. After a few seconds, he chose to up the pace and glide away. Vincent blamed the disparity between our laboured huffing and his effortless supping of air on the state of our bicycles. Our interloper was on a bike more expensive than my computer, and was dressed to the cycling-nines. It would’ve been facile to agree, and I really wanted to do so, but one look at him was enough to decide that the difference between us had nothing to do with his purchase power. No amount of money spent on cycling-tech could change that he was simply fitter than us.

A round up: Dedicated to Cosmo Catalano’s Cyclosom.com.

– [How The Race Was Won](http://cyclocosm.com/category/htrww/), possibly the best tactical decoding available absolutely anywhere, ever.

– Be ready this Sunday with [Paris Roubaix Bingo](http://cyclocosm.com/2010/04/paris-roubingo-the-paris-roubaix-home-game/).

– [Better by far](http://cyclocosm.com/2011/04/three-stooges-syndome/) than anything I could say about Garmin-Cervelo’s season so far.

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