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Zero-emission vehicles, their batteries & subsidies/rebates for them.- No politics regarding the subsidies!

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Doodski

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Electronic shifting on bicycles is a solution looking for a problem, and in the meantime creating a few other problems. I've never had an issue with bowden-cable-driven derailleurs, indexed or not, that 1.2 seconds of fine adjustment of the cable stop threaded collar couldn't fix, without getting off the bike or even coming to a stop. And that's assuming the derailleur was out of adjustment in the first place, and that simply doesn't happen to me.

But dead batteries are the bane of my existence.

Rick "thinking this is driven solely by commercial BS" Denney
I rode one bike everyday in 3 seasons for ~2-6 hours a day for a 3 years and it had non-indexed derailleurs. I actually prefer them over indexed. Once setup they never needed adjustment because the adjustment was done while shifting, I never missed a shift and I could speed shift directly to a gear 3 or 4 gears higher for more takeoff while stomping on it. If I was suddenly out of wind on a climb I could jam it to low gear in a single movement of the shifter. I was interested to see what the bicycle experts here think of electric shifting. and... is there somewhere more suitable for this topic in a bicycle thread. I searched and never found a thread where I thought this would fit in.
 

rkbates

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I rode one bike everyday in 3 seasons for ~2-6 hours a day for a 3 years and it had non-indexed derailleurs. I actually prefer them over indexed. Once setup they never needed adjustment because the adjustment was done while shifting, I never missed a shift and I could speed shift directly to a gear 3 or 4 gears higher for more takeoff while stomping on it. If I was suddenly out of wind on a climb I could jam it to low gear in a single movement of the shifter. I was interested to see what the bicycle experts here think of electric shifting. and... is there somewhere more suitable for this topic in a bicycle thread. I searched and never found a thread where I thought this would fit in.
I swore I'd never go electronic shifters - I've seen too much dead electronics in my day job. After 8 years of Shimano 10 speed Di2 (wire to the levers, not wireless like the latest 12 speed) I swear I'll never go back. Perfect shifting front and rear, but the icing on the cake is no manual trimming of the front derailleur and the only problem has been me forgetting to charge the battery (1 charge lasts 6 months, so it's easy to forget). Waiting for delivery of my new 12 speed in a few weeks!
 

Blumlein 88

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I rode one bike everyday in 3 seasons for ~2-6 hours a day for a 3 years and it had non-indexed derailleurs. I actually prefer them over indexed. Once setup they never needed adjustment because the adjustment was done while shifting, I never missed a shift and I could speed shift directly to a gear 3 or 4 gears higher for more takeoff while stomping on it. If I was suddenly out of wind on a climb I could jam it to low gear in a single movement of the shifter. I was interested to see what the bicycle experts here think of electric shifting. and... is there somewhere more suitable for this topic in a bicycle thread. I searched and never found a thread where I thought this would fit in.
I preferred non-indexed shifters too. No adjustment needed if it was right at both ends of travel. However, indexed was pretty neet when we had 7 or 8 gears. I found at 11 and 12 cogs everything was closely spaced and needing to fine tune the adjustment became more common. Not a show stopper, but more common. I don't have any electronic shifters yet, but they appear to have gotten past early teething problems and probably are the beez kneez now.

Like many such things, the 1st or 2nd generation may not be an improvement, but once it is worked out in the real world it becomes just plain superior. So you need a battery now and again....big deal. Some of you guys sound like you should be riding single speeds or maybe even fixies because complicating the tech is always adding additional points of failure. At some point the tech usually advances to the place it improves things well beyond any failure. I think electronic shifting has reached that point as have disc brakes.
 

rdenney

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I don’t care about indexing, but it sure is nice to have shifting on the brake levers. Reaching down to a downtube shifter when needing to grab a gear while climbing out of the saddle is unpleasant.

And I don’t mind having 8 cogs in the back, too.

Rick “who’ll take indexing if that’s the price to be paid” Denney
 

rdenney

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I preferred non-indexed shifters too. No adjustment needed if it was right at both ends of travel. However, indexed was pretty neet when we had 7 or 8 gears. I found at 11 and 12 cogs everything was closely spaced and needing to fine tune the adjustment became more common. Not a show stopper, but more common. I don't have any electronic shifters yet, but they appear to have gotten past early teething problems and probably are the beez kneez now.

Like many such things, the 1st or 2nd generation may not be an improvement, but once it is worked out in the real world it becomes just plain superior. So you need a battery now and again....big deal. Some of you guys sound like you should be riding single speeds or maybe even fixies because complicating the tech is always adding additional points of failure. At some point the tech usually advances to the place it improves things well beyond any failure. I think electronic shifting has reached that point as have disc brakes.

Electronic shifting simply cannot be as reliable as a good mechanical system. There are too many parts that can fail without warning even if built to military standards. Maybe it’s 11 speeds that require it, but I’ve managed to live happily without that, too.

Don’t exaggerate. I’m no Luddite, but in tens of thousands of miles of riding I’ve never missed shifts or had to limp home in a single gear because my shifting system failed. Maybe if I never maintained my bike mechanical systems would be less reliable, but I’ll bet electronic shifting is even more dependent on regular maintenance to keep it clean and adjusted. I have commuted by bicycle, using the bike I now use for gravel roads.

I do note that messengers who ride in dirty conditions so much every day that keeping up with maintenance do indeed use fixed-gear bikes for their reliability. For them, keeping the bike consistently clean is infeasible.

Disk brakes are another matter. They allow wheel sizes to vary without worrying about brake reach, and can use friction materials that work better than any rim pads. I don’t use them but I understand their design value, particularly for bikes targeted to dirt roads and paths, or wintry conditions.

Rick “show me the requirements verification” Denney
 

Blumlein 88

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Electronic shifting simply cannot be as reliable as a good mechanical system. There are too many parts that can fail without warning even if built to military standards. Maybe it’s 11 speeds that require it, but I’ve managed to live happily without that, too.

Don’t exaggerate. I’m no Luddite, but in tens of thousands of miles of riding I’ve never missed shifts or had to limp home in a single gear because my shifting system failed. Maybe if I never maintained my bike mechanical systems would be less reliable, but I’ll bet electronic shifting is even more dependent on regular maintenance to keep it clean and adjusted. I have commuted by bicycle, using the bike I now use for gravel roads.

I do note that messengers who ride in dirty conditions so much every day that keeping up with maintenance do indeed use fixed-gear bikes for their reliability. For them, keeping the bike consistently clean is infeasible.

Disk brakes are another matter. They allow wheel sizes to vary without worrying about brake reach, and can use friction materials that work better than any rim pads. I don’t use them but I understand their design value, particularly for bikes targeted to dirt roads and paths, or wintry conditions.

Rick “show me the requirements verification” Denney
Firstly without scrutinizing the design more than I have, I'm not sure the electronic shifters have more parts. While I very much get the benefit of fewer parts helping with reliability that isn't the only issue. Automatic transmissions in cars are a good example. They are far more complex and require more parts, sensors and inputs than manuals. Perhaps manuals have a slight edge in reliability perhaps not. What is true is the good designs which is most of them last the life of the car or close enough it is a not issue. The new bike shifters don't have to last a millennium, they just have to last long enough. They provide some advantages otherwise and if cost is kept in check with good enough reliability they'll be the way to go.

I don't live where they have bike messengers, but it was my opinion on limited visits to cities that do, that fixies were status and a fad among bike messengers. The majority riding mountain bikes instead.
 

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How does a DI2 derailleur deal with being hammered back in line* after hitting a rock? :p

*normally with another rock
 

Willem

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Hammering back a rear derailleur is never a good idea. Anyway, the easiest shifting is with a Rohloff gear hub (14 speed with a range equivalent to a 3x9 mtb system). I have one on my loaded touring bike and it is superb. The shifter is on the handlebar, and all you have to do is turn it, in small steps or in large ones. No longer do you have to think about changing at the front or the rear as there is only changing in the hub, nor are there overlapping gear ratios. You can also shift when you are standing still, which is a real benefit. Maintenance is just a once a year oil change, and cogs and chainwheels last a lot longer (the proprietary cogs are cheap as well). I would not want to have one on my road or rando bike because the steps between the gears (about 13%) are a bit too much for that use case, but it is exactly right for a loaded touring bike. It is expensive (much more expensive than a Shimano 11 speed hub - you pay for German engineering and manufacturing), but internal resistance is about as low as a derailleur system, and it is utterly reliable.
 

antcollinet

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Hammering back a rear derailleur is never a good idea. Anyway, the easiest shifting is with a Rohloff gear hub (14 speed with a range equivalent to a 3x9 mtb system). I have one on my loaded touring bike and it is superb. The shifter is on the handlebar, and all you have to do is turn it, in small steps or in large ones. No longer do you have to think about changing at the front or the rear as there is only changing in the hub, nor are there overlapping gear ratios. You can also shift when you are standing still, which is a real benefit. Maintenance is just a once a year oil change, and cogs and chainwheels last a lot longer (the proprietary cogs are cheap as well). I would not want to have one on my road or rando bike because the steps between the gears (about 13%) are a bit too much for that use case, but it is exactly right for a loaded touring bike. It is expensive (much more expensive than a Shimano 11 speed hub - you pay for German engineering and manufacturing), but internal resistance is about as low as a derailleur system, and it is utterly reliable.
The shimano 11 speed is similarly useful - on my trike and hybrid. Not quite as wide a range, but on the trike I also have a tripple on the front. Can climb a brick wall with that :)
 

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I remember the original Mavic ZMS electronic gear system which was meant to change the world, Mavic seemed to leave the component market not long after to concentrate on wheels.
I'm not an out and out conservative in cycling. I love Shimano STI gear shifter/brake levers, wouldn't go back from clipless pedals and like tubeless tyres. However I see the electrification of cycling as a backward step, introducing complexity, a reliance on charging, weight and worse environmental credentials to a mode of transport and recreation that just works. To be clear, I can see a place for electric bicycles for people who have fitness problems and who really would struggle on a normal bike, but you don't have to be fit to ride 5 - 10 miles which probably covers most journeys to the shops, work, railway station etc for most people, and it doesn't take a lot of working up for 10 - 20 miles to be an easy ride.
Not only is cycling environmentally friendly, it is a good way to get a bit of activity and help with fitness. You don't have to be part of the lycra brigade and riding a fancy bike, even the bike hire behemoths work perfectly well as transport tools to get around cities.
 

JJB70

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Hammering back a rear derailleur is never a good idea. Anyway, the easiest shifting is with a Rohloff gear hub (14 speed with a range equivalent to a 3x9 mtb system). I have one on my loaded touring bike and it is superb. The shifter is on the handlebar, and all you have to do is turn it, in small steps or in large ones. No longer do you have to think about changing at the front or the rear as there is only changing in the hub, nor are there overlapping gear ratios. You can also shift when you are standing still, which is a real benefit. Maintenance is just a once a year oil change, and cogs and chainwheels last a lot longer (the proprietary cogs are cheap as well). I would not want to have one on my road or rando bike because the steps between the gears (about 13%) are a bit too much for that use case, but it is exactly right for a loaded touring bike. It is expensive (much more expensive than a Shimano 11 speed hub - you pay for German engineering and manufacturing), but internal resistance is about as low as a derailleur system, and it is utterly reliable.
Rohloff hub gears are superb, expensive but superb. If you go for a hub gear I also like belt drive as an alternative to a chain.
 

antcollinet

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Rohloff hub gears are superb, expensive but superb. If you go for a hub gear I also like belt drive as an alternative to a chain.
My hybrid bike has a belt/hub gear combo which I got when commuting as an almost zero maintenance machine. Retrofitting a belt is problematic though as you need to be able to split the rear triangle.
 

JJB70

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My hybrid bike has a belt/hub gear combo which I got when commuting as an almost zero maintenance machine. Retrofitting a belt is problematic though as you need to be able to split the rear triangle.

True. I always try and advise people to go for a bicycle that meets their needs rather than just falling for a glitzy race replica machine or such like but unfortunately many get carried away by magazines and dreaming. A hybrid with mudguard clearance, rack mounts and hub gears is probably a much better bike for most people than a drop bar bike with race geometry or a mountain bike.
 

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I could not agree more. Dutch town bikes always were the epitome of that idea, although recent years have seen "innovations" such as suspension forks that only increase their weight and increase maintenance issues. Lights, mudguards/fenders, rack, hub gears and closed chain guards are the key to a practical bike. Unfortunately many are unnecessarily heavy at 20-22 kg with quite crude aluminium frames, and now come equipped with puncture proof tyres that are so stiff and heavy that you wonder why the pneumatic tyre was ever invented (sufficiently puncture proof tyres do not need to be heavy and stiff). My 24 year old more refined town bike only weighs about 14 kg, and still has mudguards, generator lights etc. However, the frame is not stiff enough for anything more than some shopping, and the tyres are only 32 mm, which is fine for smooth Dutch streets, but will not do for tours on bad or gravel roads.
Touring bikes such as my Rohloff equipped bike are a different breed. Mine comes with a drop bar, has thin walled steel tubing, wide tyres, and only weighs about 15 kg. That of course is a lot more than a proper road bike, but touring bikes have to carry camping loads and be ready for gravel roads.
I do not like belt drive, because it demands a very stiff frame, which is really do not like. However, that is a matter of taste.
 
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rdenney

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Firstly without scrutinizing the design more than I have, I'm not sure the electronic shifters have more parts. While I very much get the benefit of fewer parts helping with reliability that isn't the only issue. Automatic transmissions in cars are a good example. They are far more complex and require more parts, sensors and inputs than manuals. Perhaps manuals have a slight edge in reliability perhaps not. What is true is the good designs which is most of them last the life of the car or close enough it is a not issue. The new bike shifters don't have to last a millennium, they just have to last long enough. They provide some advantages otherwise and if cost is kept in check with good enough reliability they'll be the way to go.

I don't live where they have bike messengers, but it was my opinion on limited visits to cities that do, that fixies were status and a fad among bike messengers. The majority riding mountain bikes instead.

Not in DC, but that was a long time ago.

If you think automatic transmissions are more reliable than manual transmissions, then I have i couple in my history where I wish that had been true. I’ve rebuilt a number of automatics, and I simply had to trade in one car because Ford’s price for the replacement automatic was just too much. I’ve put probably a million miles on manual transmissions and never suffered a failure.

Electronically controlled anything is less reliable. I had to be towed to a dealer for an $1100 repair (plus a round-trip flight back to Virginia) because the “smart junction box” on a Ford failed. In the failed state, the engine ran but could not be turned off. The doors could not be locked, the key could not be removed, the transmission could not be shifted into Park, the lights did not work (including brake lights), and all this happened without warning at 70 mph on I-10 just east of Houston. I had to sit in the vehicle with my foot on the brake. At least I could drive it off the freeway. The only saving grace there was that I’m from Houston and knew people. That happened last year. Did a connector burn up? Apparently not. Did a circuit board crack? Unknown—the old one was tossed. I also had to re-tattoo the car to a new set of keys, which required another few hundred bucks.

I also drive a 50-year-old motorhome with minimal electronics. As old as it is, I’ve had several failures, but none without any warning or recognizable cause and none that crippled the vehicle in that way. And I can carry every one of its few critical electronic components as a spare. I am a former professional mechanic and before last year had never even heard of a “smart junction box”.

Systems in cars fulfill a wide range of requirements unaddressed by old tech, and mechanical durability has actually improved over the years. But let’s not pretend those electronics are more reliable.

“Good enough” for what? We can’t afford the weight and cost of true failsafes on consumer electronics.

I’m sure the electronic shifters represent an advance—in lowering costs for manufacturers who’d rather write software than build machines. Not that I’ve seen any related retail price reduction. But I can’t think of any requirement the electronic shifters fulfill that mechanical shifters don’t on bicycles, except maybe automatic gear selection for casual riders who don’t already know what gear they want. (Is that a problem?) I’ve never had a shifting failure, and always been able to select the gear I wanted.

The IEEE outline for a concept of operations for use in systems engineering has a chapter called “deficiencies of the current system”. I wouldn’t know what to write in that chapter for a ConOps on electronic bicycle shifting for any use case relevant to the riding I do and have done.

Rick “which is what defines a solution looking for a problem” Denney
 
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Blumlein 88

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Not in DC, but that was a long time ago.

If you think automatic transmissions are more reliable than manual transmissions, then I have i couple in my history where I wish that had been true. I’ve rebuilt a number of automatics, and I simply had to trade in one car because Ford’s price for the replacement automatic was just too much. I’ve put probably a million miles on manual transmissions and never suffered a failure.

Electronically controlled anything is less reliable. I had to be towed to a dealer for an $1100 repair (plus a round-trip flight back to Virginia) because the “smart junction box” on a Ford failed. In the failed state, the engine ran but could not be turned off. The doors could not be locked, the key could not be removed, the transmission could not be shifted into Park, the lights did not work (including brake lights), and all this happened without warning at 70 mph on I-10 just east of Houston. I had to sit in the vehicle with my foot on the brake. At least I could drive it off the freeway. The only saving grace there was that I’m from Houston and knew people. That happened last year. Did a connector burn up? Apparently not. Did a circuit board crack? Unknown—the old one was tossed. I also had to re-tattoo the car to a new set of keys, which required another few hundred bucks.

I also drive a 50-year-old motorhome with minimal electronics. As old as it is, I’ve had several failures, but none without any warning or recognizable cause and none that crippled the vehicle in that way. And I can carry every one of its few critical electronic components as a spare. I am a former professional mechanic and before last year had never even heard of a “smart junction box”.

Systems in cars fulfill a wide range of requirements unaddressed by old tech, and mechanical durability has actually improved over the years. But let’s not pretend those electronics are more reliable.

“Good enough” for what? We can’t afford the weight and cost of true failsafes on consumer electronics.

I’m sure the electronic shifters represent an advance—in lowering costs for manufacturers who’d rather write software than build machines. Not that I’ve seen any related retail price reduction. But I can’t think of any requirement the electronic shifters fulfill that mechanical shifters don’t on bicycles, except maybe automatic gear selection for casual riders who don’t already know what gear they want. (Is that a problem?) I’ve never had a shifting failure, and always been able to select the gear I wanted.

The IEEE outline for a concept of operations for use in systems engineering has a chapter called “deficiencies if the current system”. I wouldn’t know what to write in that chapter for a ConOps on electronic bicycle shifting for any use case relevant to the riding I do and have done.

Rick “which is what defines a solution looking for a problem” Denney
Individual outlier failures don't tell us that much. Automobiles last longer than ever despite being more complex and electronic. They are more reliable than they have ever been as well. Maintenance intervals are longer than ever, and less of it required. The electronic components must be reliable enough or none of this would be the case. The complexity means unusual "crazy" failures can occur that wouldn't in the past like the one you described, but they aren't the norm. Diagnostic systems which I think are still poorly developed nevertheless work well enough so that quite often they warn you of an impending failure before you are left on the side of the road.

Electronic ignition most certainly is more reliable and longer lived than mechanical. Electronic fuel injection despite its complexity is longer lived and more reliable than carburetors as well as working much better at what it does. Automobiles aren't even much more expensive inflation adjusted.
 

dc655321

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Not sure how this pivoted to bikes, but I like it!

I recently put a SRAM AXS eTap mullet system on my bike and think it's fan-f*king-tastic.
Can't say anything about its reliability, other than it has been flawless over the 2 months since installation.
Strava tells me I average about 75 mi/wk...

I also won't comment about requirements it satisfies or doesn't - could not care less about the "get off my lawn" crowd...
I bought it and installed with little more reasoning than, "cool! I want one!".
Same thing lead me to put 650b carbon wheels on it too :D

Now that I say that "out loud", it sounds a lot like audio purchasing rationale...


2022-05-22 13.07.45.jpg
 
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Doodski

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Not sure how this pivoted to bikes, but I like it!

I recently put a SRAM AXS eTap mullet system on my bike and think it's fan-f*king-tastic.
Can't say anything about its reliability, other than it has been flawless over the 2 months since installation.
Strava tells me I average about 75 mi/wk...

I also won't comment about requirements it satisfies or doesn't - could not care less about the "get off my lawn" crowd...
I bought it and installed with little more reasoning than, "cool! I want one!".
Same thing lead me to put 650b carbon wheels on it too :D

Now that I say that "out loud", it sounds a lot like audio purchasing rationale...


View attachment 215719
Holy Smokeroonies! That rear cassette is huge. Those slicks look mighty sticky too.
 
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