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

lost cause

Sounds like a company that is stuck in the last century and fighting on principle when the world is moving on. Analog, vinyl LP is a more "pure" sound than digital CD but only the fanatics buy albums these days. Sure, Di2 is still top-of-the-line and crazy expensive but eventually that technology will trickle down and SRAM will be left out in the cold.

Hardly

SRAM drive trains are more popular than ever and Di2 hasn't taken off. Electric shifting will go the way of the pet rock, the Snuggie and the term fashionista. Anybody showing up to a cat 4 (early adopters) race with Di2 is a total nerd (the bad kind).

Not completely disagreeing...

....but as a Di2 "early adopter", I don't think of myself as a nerd, although the glasses I'm wearing right now may say otherwise. Tech geek? Yeah, I'll claim that title. I agree that SRAM (I have Rival on my other bike, lugged steel frame, crazy beautiful and has the performance to back it up) is more popular than ever, partly thanks to the marketing geniuses in Chicago, but it does flat-out function. Di2 is nutty expensive, but you know what, it flat-out functions as well.

Will it go the way of the Dodo (that was a bird)? Probably not, even Campy doesn't think so. Is it perfect? I don't believe it is either, but it's pretty damn close. The trickle-down effect will cement it's place in the market, but you have to give it time. In all reality, you know what electric would be the best for? The average everyday rider. That's right, the low-ender, whether a newby roadie or Mom riding the townie down to the store or on a bike path simply to get in a little exercise. No muss, no fuss, they can concentrate on simply riding their bikes.

Oh yeah, I'm not a cat 4, I'm a well-seasoned cat 2/35+ that has been around a while and quite frankly paid my dues. And I won the Di2 for.....wait for it.....riding my bike......a lot.

You make interesting points.

You make interesting points. I was being snarky (too much coffee) in my last post, and I should say that I'm a tech geek too and I am intrigued by the Campy system. However, I've had VERY good luck with SRAM (bad luck with Shimano) and I've always said to pry Red away from me would be a "cold dead hands" type of thing. Wheat Ridge Cycles has a Di2 Madone in my size and I've thought about taking it for a spin - just for kicks. I better leave the credit card at home, just in case right.

i'm not vehemently against

i'm not vehemently against electronic shifting, its just waaaay beyond the horizon of diminishing returns for me. so many things i'd spend a bottomless pool of money on before electro-shifting. but i dont judge or think less of people who prefer it.

this press strategy is really puzzling though. i'm not sure what tone they were going for, but it seems really awkward and defensive and ultimately unnecessary.

how about..

...GPS-enabled shifting controls via radio frequency from the team cars...or seat and handlebar warmers...

what purpose does electronic shifting serve other than appeal from the doctor/lawyer/indian chief crowd that buys imported cars with c-mas light-strips around the headlights?

the only somewhat-value of di2 noticed so far by me has been a positive review by a velonews-guy doing cross in the muck. otherwise, i will continue to grab a campy thumbfull at will and hope that the legs can respond!

this is quite the non-issue to me and think sram should know better.

I Have an Idea!

Here's the way SRAM can position itself: Compete rather than try to market yourself over good product. I bet when Hayes beat Avid to disc brakes, Avid talked about the raw, tactile sensation of blistered, cramping fingers on long descents, while meager lever arms pushed pads on a rim to the trumpet of fading braking power in anything but perfect conditions. Why? Because that is how the bicycle was meant to be experienced.
Oh and 15mm axles don't make sense, again because we don't have a product to compete...until next year.......then we'll change our tune.

SO S-RAM!

What a lame piece of

What a lame piece of marketing crap that sounds so self absorbed. It also sounds desperate. SRAM is the same company who comes out and tells you they innovated mountain biking with their 2*10 drive train (wow that is so innovative, many of us were riding 2*9 in the early 2000's) and now they want to create this junk against Di2 and what ever Campy calls their stuff. Here is an idea how about spending time improving RED, a very good group, but one you have done nothing too since it came out.

SRAM makes great stuff and has really come on strong. They deserve lots of credit. But this is just over the top crap, that strokes their own ego. If someone likes Di2 and want to use it great. If some one think SRAM Red is the way to go, that great too. Or you like Super Record, fine with me. I have spent some time on Di2, it is pretty darn impressive. Do I own it, no. But as a cycling fan I like new technology, some of it will get adopted, and some of it will die. It is rather lame to see a company trying to get something to die, but because they do not offer it.

What is next SRAM? A push that we all need to ride fixie's for the love of the sport? Maybe a move back to 6 speed? Everyone wears wool? How about friction shifters? The Lauren Fingnon movement to ban aero bars?

Extrapolate?

My question is, what does this mean for electric assist bicycles? Will they take the high ground and stay out of that market, as well? If it is just a marketing tactic that someone dreamed up, these statements could come back to bite them depending on how they position themselves when motorized mountain bikes start showing up en masse on the trails.

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