Help SRAM Communicate their Stance on the Electronic-Shifting Trend

SRAM is currently work with local company Victors and Spoils to help communicate their stance on electronic shifting. Here are the project details:

Project Details

Target: The bike industry. The bike lover. The Culture of Mechanical.
Objective: Create a groundswell against electronic shifting by focusing on the purity and simplicity of mechanical shifting.
Deadline: Project Ends In 7 Days from today (1/27/2011)

3 Winners will be awarded a $5,000 carbon roadbike with SRAM Red components.

SRAM website: http://sram.com

The Assignment:
SRAM wants your ideas on how to position against electronic shifting in the consciousness of the cycling enthusiast.

The Situation:
A couple years ago, Shimano finally cracked an electronic-shifting offering for Dura-Ace - their top road group. Calling it “Di2,” this battery-powered, push-button shifting solution utilized mostly standard Dura-Ace componentry, but added all necessary auxillary power and servo functionality to produce an electronically activated, front and rear shifting component group that first became adopted by top pros, and has now become Shimano’s top-tier road component offering. Naysayers have been squelched, due to Di2’s proven performance and reliability on ProTour Shimano teams and adoption by professional racers/hardcore enthusiasts/bike builders. Di2 has taken the myth and hope of electronic shifting from the yesteryear’s failed attempts and made it real, putting it smack into the spotlight as a dreambike component group. On top of that, it simplifies initial install and self-regulates to help avoid return trips to a mechanic. Though these features come at a high price and add some extra weight (battery), their “set-up and forget” and “ease of use” benefits are also new to drive train products.

So why doesn’t SRAM have an electronic group? Is SRAM going to jump in? Bike geeks and the bike industry at large all want to know. And it’s time SRAM responded.

SRAM has not jumped into the electronic-shifting game because SRAM believes the bicycle is a pure, leg and lung-powered expression of utter simplicity and grace. And using a battery to power an essential part of the experience just isn’t right. Or necessary. Especially because the real performance benefits of electronic shifting really don’t exist. A rider still has to think about shifting and press on something. The only difference with electronic is you press a button instead of a shift-lever. It takes the same energy and thought. Furthermore, electronic shifting is so specialized and boutique that if you break it, you can’t always get service or replacement. Instead of adding benefit, all it really adds is a layer between you and the bicycle. An insulated, muffling, experience-robbing layer of “Rolls-Royce automatic cushiness” – when the essence of cycling has always been about the “Culture of Mechanical” – AKA the raw, tactile connection of the human animal to a beautiful, efficient, analog machine. So in short, SRAM believes its energy can be better spent in refining and moving forward simplicity and purity. Which is mechanical shifting. And SRAM believes the public’s energy – and money – is better spent in mechanical as well. Leaving room in the budget for true performance upgrades such as frame choices, wheels, tires, etc.

The Opportunity:
Create a groundswell against electronic shifting by focusing on the purity and simplicity of mechanical shifting. In the process, SRAM can take the higher ground and position Di2 for what it is: Glitzy, geeky, wimpy and free of REAL benefits. Show the world that SRAM is being smart and they should be too. Write ads. Think up web films. Think up stunts and events. Promotions, whatever. Consider using SRAM’s athletes. Consider leveraging SRAM’s history of simplicity. Craft SRAM’s response.

The Target:
The bike industry. The bike lover. The Culture of Mechanical.

The Tone:
Smart. Confident. Simple. Thought-provoking. Positive. Not sour grapes.

The Mandatories:
You’re talking to an ultra niche: bike geeks. So you have to be a bike geek yourself. Be pro. Proofread. Don’t waste V&S’ or SRAM’s time with ideas that are fiscally irresponsible. Write up your ideas with a succinct, spot-on title. Be brief. Don’t oversell. Be clever. Original. Invent stuff that would be press-release worthy. Your ideas should be globally translatable.

Some Reference:
The Culture of Mechanical Shifting
The Culture of Electro Servo Shifting
Tech Predictions for 2011

Get Started

News Item: 

26 Comments

Are you kidding?

SRAM the company that makes front derailleurs so flexy they can't shift properly?!? Chainrings so flexy even their sponsored riders use the lesser/heavier models?!?! sponsored riders throwing chains on critical climbs and losing the TdF?!?! (OK so the drug cheats still race against gentlemans rules but the plastic bag residue can settle that argument for Bertie and Shrek), following shimano on outboard bearing BB technology, profiled cassette teeth, STI lever design,dual pivot brakes, chains that break with regular monotony...cassettes so noisy you have to check to see if the derailleur is falling off the bike)...do I need to go on???
SRAM...when you learn to make mechanical gearing well...then you can pontificate...until then you are still marketing entity that makes some avg bike gear (and FWIW all the good technology you acquire, you keep branded under original premises which is your one 'smart' move!)

I use SRAM, and only SRAM from now on.

You are blaming SRAM for a host of things that are not their fault. Your first contention is that their front derailleurs and chainrings are so flexy that they can't shift properly. It is well known that most pro teams use a Force level derailleur when they have easy access to red but the fact is that the Red group functions just fine in every way. Titanium (which the red FD is made from)is used in Red because the purpose of red is to be absurdly light, which it is. Titanium simply doesn't shift as crisply as steel which is something that might matter to you if your changing gears in the heat of serious battle. To the amateur racer the titanium cage works just fine. It works fine for the pros too but it just doesn't have the feel they want. As far a chainrings...I can't think of any case when pro teams have used lower level chainrings but small changes like this are often made to bring a bike UP to minimum weight. It is actually difficult to make a bike heavy enough when you have to use the best equipment available. This is why pros have alloy bars and stems, clunky powermeters, TT chainrings on a road bike, etc.
As far as chains falling off there is no way at all that this is the groupsets fault. If it was you would see it happen all the time to JUST SRAM groups. Pro teams change the cables on their bikes very frequently and new cables stretch so eventually the FD is going to come out of adjustment. It's also quite possible that the team mechanic set the lower limiter too slack when he adjusted the bike. Possible user errors like this are the reason that almost ALL pro riders are using chain watchers these days. In reality they probably just forgot to put one on Andy's yellow jersey bike.
And SRAM did not copy shimano on everything they did, the technological details you listed as being associated with shimano were invented before SRAM made road groupsets and they became industry standard. That considered it would have been foolish and irresponsible for SRAM not to incorporate them into their design.
For the record I use SRAM chains and cassettes and have put them through hell in road and cross races and have never broken one. Not everyone is Fabian Cancellara mashing on the Koppenburg and even if we were sometimes manufacturer defects happen. They've happened with Shimano and Campy too.
You can ride whatever you want, but I love the crisp shifting, sure braking, perfect ergonomics, unquestionable value, and easy adjustability of SRAM and have never had an issue with it. I think that your concerns are unfounded and, respectably, it makes me doubt that you have any mechanical ability with bikes.

Electronic Pricing

The only thing I'm going to say is Price! With the internet people already shop for price. Some don't even care about value. So you fall, lean your bike over wrong, scuff your shifter, bend your der. Now its time to get a new one. A rear Dura Ace der is something like 850 to 900 each. That's just ONE piece of the group.
In this day and age when everyone sits around complaining about the economy you want a groupo that cost that much?

And SHIMANO places NO value on there parts. Look at the mail order catalogs. They sell to one company at one price and then sell to the other at a different price. Oh and then tell a dealer to sell at MSRP on their website.

This guy is glad to have made the switch after 20 some years! Period.

THANK YOU SRAM for making a great product that I can rebuild too.

SRAM & electronic shifting

You poor misguided sods! I have just turned sixty & I use & love SRAM's robust, simple & elegant technology but that does not lock me in Fred Flintstone's box. remember King Canute who tried to command the sea? Sorry guys you are just going to look foolish if you don't embrace the future . Enjoy the best of all worlds. Don't limit your customers experience. Campo scoffed at Shimano San & has been playing the respondent ever since.

The same arguments were used with the advent of the "hot dog" surf board. Old School riders lamented the passing of their vision of the surf god majestically arriving at the shore on his piece of lumber. They bitched & whined about hyperactive,barely post pubescenth wave attackers on the new technology. Dont "riatilinize" your selves at SRAM. Make the experience diverse & don't let it fossilise as a specimen in a display case marked " purity of experience".

Regards
Phil

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