I’m still getting used to the weird habit the big mountains out here have of disappearing for months at a time, only to show up again so impossibly large and nearby-looking as soon as we have a clear day that you can’t imagine not seeing them. My wife was in Portland and Washington for a week to help with the house hunt, and never once saw Mt. Hood or Mt. Saint Helens. The day after she left that felt crazy. You could practically feel Mt. Hood looking on your window at night, as if all of Portland were one of those tiny Alpine villages in the immediate shadow of the mountain.
Today I managed to catch Hood sort of half visible and half not, directly ahead of me on Washington 14 East, running right along the Columbia. In the photo up there, it’s just about to fade into the clouds and vanish.
Speaking of the ephemeral, did you see those 2013 Dura Ace photos Bikerumor posted?
Yes, it’s 11-speed, and yes, the arms are all funkily asymmetric and stuff, but for my money the really interesting thing going on here is the near infinite gearing options. Because Shimano has effectively made their big ring the actual spider onto which the small ring mounts (notice how small the actual crank arm spider is?), they’ll be able to offer chainring sets in pretty much any big-ring, little-ring pairing that’s within about 16-teeth of each other.
A different path toward the same near gearing has already been blazed at Campagnolo. You can see their 2013 cranksets over at Bikeradar. Though they don’t look quite as unique as the Dura Ace, Campy’s chainrings have been changing, too, and everyone is curious to see if their 52/36t combination is going to shift. If it does, that may become the new compact gearing of choice. I can’t claim to understand why Campy seems hell-bent on resurrecting the very nearly dead road triple, though. It’s like those labs that keep potentially devastating viruses around for research purposes. All you can do is hope they never get out.
It looks like some form of really wide-range gearing may be upon us, though. If it shifts, it’ll be a net positive thing. If it doesn’t it won’t. Between electronics and entirely new ratios from and back, though, it looks like we’ll be seeing some very different things happening with drivetrains, and I hope to focus a on new products here as we head toward 2013.
I received a bunch of responses to my SRAM 1×11 question, but feel free to share your opinion, if you haven’t yet. I’ll let you know the general consensus tomorrow.