Power still at the forefront
Cyclingnews readers have again identified power meters as one of the continuing hot tech topics of 2011, giving nearly 40 percent of the total vote for Best Tech Innovation towards the new crop of pedal-based power meters, including the Garmin Vector and Look KéO Power.
While effectively having two separate power meters instead of one can create some logistical complexities for manufacturers, pedal-based systems offer some practical benefits to users, namely the ability to more easily transfer them between multiple bikes and automatic left/right power output splits depending on the computer head.
The full-blown scientific version of Garmin's Vector system will also provide an extraordinary amount of directional power data for biomechanists, which may lend greater insight into cycling performance, fit, and training methodology.
Look's KéO Power is starting to trickle into the marketplace now but Garmin's Vector still won't land in consumer hands until later this spring.
Curmudgeons and retro-grouches will undoubtedly decry the second-place finisher: disc brakes for 'cross and road bikes. While current rim brakes certainly get the job done, the mountain bike world has certainly demonstrated that disc brakes are not only more consistent and predictable but can also help riders go faster by providing more control.
And while greater power is also a distinct benefit in those circles, disc-equipped road and 'cross riders will benefit most from the vastly improved modulation, which should shorten braking distances and improve safety, particularly on long descents that might otherwise cause clinchers to blowout or tubular glue to soften.
Current options include a variety of dated mechanical systems or a few mechanical-to-hydraulic converters from the likes of TRP, Hope, and Tr!ckstuff. Ultimately, though, the full performance potential won't be realized until bike companies and major component manufacturers introduce dedicated disc-only frames and fully integrated hydraulic systems – then things will really get interesting.
Hydraulic shifting systems land in a solid third place with over 10 percent of the vote. Electronic transmissions such as Shimano Dura-Ace (and now Ultegra) Di2 and Campagnolo's new Record and Super Record EPS systems dominate the conversation at the moment but Acros' A-GE system has certainly captured the public's attention. Touted benefits include a fully sealed system that's impervious to weather, light weight, and a human-powered mechanism that lends more feedback of what's going on at the other end.
Moreover, it doesn't require a battery, to which many riders simply have a philosophical objection.
The Acros system is currently still exorbitantly expensive with its vast array of intricately CNC-machined aluminum bits but assuming there's enough interest, we expect the company to follow-up with a less expensive version using forged components. Electronic shifting is on the cutting edge for sure but Acros is demonstrating batteries and motors aren't the only advanced option moving forward.
Best Tech Innovation
1 Pedal-based power meters 8,205 (37.9%)
2 Disc brakes for 'cross and road bikes 5,149 (23.8%)
3 Hydraulic shifting 2,349 (10.9%)
4 FSA BB386 Evo bottom bracket standard 1,310 (6.1%)
5 Long-travel 29ers 1,224 (5.7%)
6 Ridley Noah FB integrated brake calipers 974 (4.5%)
7 Selle Italia Monolink saddle/seatpost interface 846 (3.9%)
8 Specialized/Fox Racing ShoxAutoSag rear shocks 676 (3.1%)
9 142x12mm thru-axle rear dropouts 612 (2.8%)
10 Slack-angled cross-country mountain bikes 289 (1.3%)
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