12-19-11 - SRAM

SRAM is rolling out a big promotional campaign this year, trying to convince people that their components are actually superior.

They've signed up lots of the pro teams. Just as with car racing, do not be mislead by what the pros use. I see lots of morons on forums saying "well the race team uses this, it must be great". No, the reason the race team uses it is because they are paid to use it.

SRAM double-tap shifters are fucking *awful*. Absolutely retarded. Imagine your right mouse button was taken away and instead you had to double-tap the left to accomplish that function. Yep, it's horrible.

Double-press GUI is always horrible and always should only be used as a last resort. We use it sometimes in games because there just aren't enough buttons on console controllers, but a smart game designer knows that only the secondary functions should go on double-tap buttons (the same goes for "hold" buttons) and the twitch functions should be on their own dedicated button.

Actually it's even worse than that. They don't do the right thing when you're at the edge of the gear shift limits. So like if you are at the low end, you can't go any lower (which you would accomplish by double-tapping), it will still let you single tap (to up-shift). So you're riding up a steep hill and you want a lower gear, you go to double-tap, and oh fuck half way through it the lever won't let you do the double-tap, but you've already single-tapped. There's no way to back out of it, when you let go it will up-shift you and you'll be fucked.

The STI system is just one million billion times better. But it's patented. That's why all these shift levers are so dang expensive, because they're patented.

It's also why there has to be a new lever system every year, a new size of bottom bracket, a new headset system - it's so that the manufacturer can patent it and/or make an exclusive line so that they can rip you off. The old system was perfectly fine functionally, the problem with it was that generic brands were starting to come out with cheap decent components for that system. We can't have that.

It's just like medicine of course, though with medicine it's much more diabolical.

Certainly with medicine it's obvious that there should be laws that prevent the pointless pushing of the new expensive product when it's not actually any better than cheap old solutions.

But I think it would actually be in the world's best interest to have a similar law for everything. It would be hard to phrase and hard to enforce, but the idea is something like - you must make components that are compatible with others on the market unless the incompatibility is for a necessary functional reason. It's actually much better for the free market and competition of products can plug and play and the consumer can choose based on pice and functionality, not compatibilty with some bullshit proprietary interface.

One that annoys me is car parts; most of the car parts for a Porsche or BMW or whatever are actually identical to the ones for a cheaper car (like a VW for example) - but they intentionally make the interface ever so slightly different so that you can't just go buy the cheaper part. The parts are all made by Bosch or whoever major part supplier anyway, it's not like you get a better brand of part for the money. The interesting thing to me is that the car maker doesn't really benefit from this, it's the part maker who does, so there must be some kind of collusion where the car maker gets a kickback in exchange for using the proprietary part.

Maybe the most obvious example is car wheels. Wheels are wheels, there's no need for them to be car specific, but the auto manufacturers intentionally use different bolt spacings (5x130, 4x110, etc) so that you can't go buy cheap mass market wheels for your fancy car. You can cross-shop the exact same wheel with different bolt spacings, and the price difference can be 2X or more.

1 comment:

brian said...

On the SRAM shifters, Eric rides those and said the low end shifting thing doesn't work like that - you can double-tap, it just doesn't go anywhere. Took him a bit to figure out at first. But it doesn't screw you by upshifting if you just push it in hard enough to get the double-tap.

And conversely when he rides STI he says the brake lever lateral movement makes it feel super squirrely to him and he much prefers the SRAM double-tap since he doesn't worry he'll be braking and his hand'll slip and the brake lever'll go sideways and slip out of his grasp.


old rants