When speed is everything, anything that shaves off a few seconds can mean the difference between winning and losing, so for Shimanoâ€™s new bicycle derailleurs, theyâ€™ve gotten rid of cables all together and replaced them with computer controlled motors and gear selectors in an effort to provide smoother and more consistent shifts during the most demanding of races.
They’re not without their detractors however:
â€œPeople choose bicycles precisely because a bicycleâ€™s motion requires only human effort, and nothing could be more simple, independent and autonomous,â€ said Raymond Henry, a cycling historian in St. Etienne, France. â€œAny source of external energy, however weak, runs counter to this philosophy.â€
As with any new technology, these things donâ€™t come cheap, and initial systems are expected to add about $1,250 onto the cost of an already expensive system, but if they can prove their reliability and speed up a riderâ€™s pace, they just might be shifting the gears of every high-dollar race bike in a few years time.