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2009 Reader Poll: Electronica dominates new category

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Oversized bottom brackets of one sort or another are quickly becoming the norm.

Oversized bottom brackets of one sort or another are quickly becoming the norm.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Heat-moldable cycling shoes promise a custom fit but without the custom price tag.

Heat-moldable cycling shoes promise a custom fit but without the custom price tag.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Higher-quality ceramic bearings offer measurable reductions in friction over conventional steel counterparts.

Higher-quality ceramic bearings offer measurable reductions in friction over conventional steel counterparts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Tubeless road clinchers are still in their infancy but are already comparable in weight to conventional clinchers while also offering a uniquely damped ride and improved flat resistance.

Tubeless road clinchers are still in their infancy but are already comparable in weight to conventional clinchers while also offering a uniquely damped ride and improved flat resistance.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Power meters are fast becoming must-have equipment for serious cyclists looking to improve on their fitness.

Power meters are fast becoming must-have equipment for serious cyclists looking to improve on their fitness.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Garmin's new Edge 500 computer is but one example of the growing segment of GPS-enabled computers.

Garmin's new Edge 500 computer is but one example of the growing segment of GPS-enabled computers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BOA lacing technology has been around for years but has recently gained popularity in cycling footwear.

BOA lacing technology has been around for years but has recently gained popularity in cycling footwear.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon clinchers: love 'em or hate 'em, they're likely here to stay.

Carbon clinchers: love 'em or hate 'em, they're likely here to stay.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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More advanced power meters such as this SRM model based around Cannondale's Hollowgram SL crank barely weigh more than their conventional counterparts.

More advanced power meters such as this SRM model based around Cannondale's Hollowgram SL crank barely weigh more than their conventional counterparts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Batteries for bicycles? Yup, and they're not just for the computers anymore.

Batteries for bicycles? Yup, and they're not just for the computers anymore.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This control box replaces the usual barrel adjusters on Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group.

This control box replaces the usual barrel adjusters on Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's no spring in here; just a powerful stepper motor. Best get used to it.

There's no spring in here; just a powerful stepper motor. Best get used to it.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The typical loop of cable housing has been replaced by an insulated copper wire on Shimano's groundbreaking Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain.

The typical loop of cable housing has been replaced by an insulated copper wire on Shimano's groundbreaking Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Electronic drivetrain controls have the potential to be both lighter and more ergonomic than mechanical ones.

Electronic drivetrain controls have the potential to be both lighter and more ergonomic than mechanical ones.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Scott Addict was a game-changer in the lightweight road frame wars but the 900g barrier has now been broken by scores of other models.

The Scott Addict was a game-changer in the lightweight road frame wars but the 900g barrier has now been broken by scores of other models.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Road saddles no longer have to double as torture devices, as demonstrated by the new breed of light-yet-ergonomic saddles such as Specialized's new Romin SL.

Road saddles no longer have to double as torture devices, as demonstrated by the new breed of light-yet-ergonomic saddles such as Specialized's new Romin SL.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Dual-density foam technology has brought the weight of helmets down below 200g.

Dual-density foam technology has brought the weight of helmets down below 200g.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new MetriGear Vector power meter looks to be the most promising power meter design of 2010.

The new MetriGear Vector power meter looks to be the most promising power meter design of 2010.
(Image credit: Metrigear)

Your votes in the new 'Best Tech Innovation' category signal loud and clear that the future of bicycle technology lies not in improved structure but rather the increased use of advanced electronics. Whether designed to enhance functionality of mechanical function, optimize our training efforts, or simply provide more information to satiate our ever-increasing hunger for data, these systems have surged to become the technology du jour.

In first place is electronic shifting, which, for the time being, is also synonymous with Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 group (Campagnolo's system is still in development). Skeptics have loudly proclaimed the concept as a 'solution to a problem that didn't exist', yet interestingly enough, many of those voices have quieted down now that more people have had an opportunity to use it in person.

The benefits are subtle but substantial nonetheless: shifts are more precise and consistent over time, there is less maintenance required, less user effort is needed to initiate a shift (not an issue with the vast majority of us but notable for riders that spend as much time on a bike as we do behind a desk), and a generally more precise and accurate feeling across the board. Though not yet the case right now, electronic systems also have the potential to be lighter than mechanical ones, too.

To be fair, Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 system isn't quite perfect and is still incredibly expensive but all things considered, it's a major leap forward and a sign of things to come.

Once exclusive to sponsored pro athletes and trustafarians everywhere, power meters occupy the second rung of this year's Reader Poll. Technological advances, increased competition and economies of scale have brought prices down to somewhat more reasonable levels for the top direct-measurement models while other approaches such as the iBike have proven to be sufficiently accurate for many users at a cost of just a few hundred dollars. Not surprisingly, there are still more models coming to consumers in the future, most notably the intriguing pedal-based Vector from MetriGear.

With the proliferation of online training analysis software such as TrainingPeaks and the emergence of remote power-based coaches added into the mix, too, it's no wonder why power meters are the new must-have item for any cyclist who's even moderately serious about improving their performance.

Coming in a close third are GPS-enabled computers. No longer content with tiny – but simple – boxes that relay speed and distance information via wheel-mounted magnets and short-range transmitters, your votes indicate that cyclists are continuing to migrate to more advanced GPS models that not only log more information about our rides, but also have the potential to help guide us along the way.

Industry giant Garmin still leads the way in many markets. However, as the segment continues to grow in popularity, expect to see more competition from not only other established GPS players but also mobile phone and third-party app developers.

Here's a New Year's resolution for 2010: stock up on batteries.

Cyclingnews reader poll results - Best tech innovation

Electronic shifting: 3517
Power meters: 1822
GPS-enabled computers: 1667
BB86/BB90/BB30 oversized bottom brackets: 1193
Aero road bikes: 1074
Carbon clincher road wheels: 1060
Ceramic bearings: 900
Tubeless clincher road tires: 839
Ergonomic saddles: 462
Heat-moldable footwear: 442
Sub-900g carbon fiber road frames: 425
Tapered steerer tubes: 296
Sub-200g helmets: 201
Boa lacing systems: 172