We tend to think of technology as something that moves electrons around. But I’m going to take a little diversion into technology that is used to move us around (and yes, our electrons as well, you pedants). The humble bicycle has been in existence for roughly two centuries, and the general outlines of what we use today were in place by the early 1900s, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed. I certainly hadn’t given it much thought.
I had to reevaluate that view when, in an effort to get more exercise, I decided to replace the bike that I had bought in the early 1990s. Just in shopping, it became apparent that a lot had changed—I faced decisions that I hadn’t realized existed. Much of the underlying technology had transformed, and the changes generally solved significant problems. My old bike, a Trek 1200, was bought on a grad student’s budget as a high-speed commute machine; adjusting for inflation, its successor was within about $200 of the same price. But it was like buying into a completely different world.
So join me in a trip through a quarter century of cycling technology, with an emphasis on the hardware that’s within most people’s price ranges.