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Mar 28, 2023

This week Randall and Craig have along overdue catch up and discuss SRAM’s new XX SL Eagle ‘hanger-less’ derailleur and its implications for the gravel market.

Episode Sponsor: Hammerhead Karoo 2 (use code: THEGRAVELRIDE for free HRM strap)

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Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport

I'm your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don't need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.

This week on the podcast, I'm joined by my co-host Randall Jacobs for another edition of, in the dirt. We're going to take a look at Schram's new mountain bike derailer group. Oh, and the removal of the derailleur hanger. It's quite big news and has big implications. We've already seen a couple of gravel bikes with this type of dropout ready for this new type of derailer system. Perhaps some mullet systems will be up and running as we speak. And as we record this podcast,

It has ramifications in terms of compatibility, both backwards and forwards. And we asked some questions about how Shamana will play into this new paradigm. The new derailer has some super nifty design elements to it. And a lot of thought was clearly put into it by the folks at SRAM. Speaking of the folks at SRAM, I need to thank this week. Sponsor hammerhead and the hammerhead Caru to computer. They hammered crew two is the most advanced GPS cycling computer available today.

With industry leading mapping navigation and routing capabilities that set it apart from other GPS options. It has free global maps with points of interests included like cafes and campsites. So you can explore with confidence and on the go flexibility. As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite features is hammerheads exclusive climber feature with predictive path technology that lets you visualize and prepare for upcoming gradient changes in real time.

With or without a root loaded. I was using this feature today. In fact, I was adding on to one of my favorite rides, the Dawn patrol here in Marin county on Mount Tam. And I decided to extend the day. And honestly, by the time I dropped down to mirror woods, I decided I'd climb up the roads because I did not have the legs to go up the trail system, knowing that that trail up middle green gold Chaz. Gosh, it's probably about a 20% climb. I opted for the road and I had my face glued.

To the hammerhead crew to screen, as I was watching those gradients change. And my legs were aching. I knew what was ahead of me. I knew how long I had to go and I just kept plugging away. And that kind of knowledge. Whether it's in your home terrain or even more importantly, when you're riding routes that you've loaded on that potentially you haven't written before. It's just great. It works well for me, I tend to like to know how long I need to suffer for up these Hills. So kudos to the team at

as you know, they continually update via over the air software upgrades. So they're keeping the system fresh. They just released a new e-bike integration that brings detailed battery life usage. Right to your display so you can stay attuned to if you're running low on batteries.

Right now for listeners of the podcast, you can get a free heart rate monitor with the purchase of our hammerhead kuru to simply visit right now, and use that promo code, the gravel ride at checkout to get yours today. This is an exclusive offer. So don't forget to use that promo code, the gravel ride.

Just add that heart rate monitor to your purchase of a kuru And you'll be good to go. With that said let's jump right into my conversation with my co-host Randall Jacobs.

[00:03:57] Craig Dalton: Hey, Randall. How you doing?

[00:03:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Doing very, very well, Craig. Good to see you buddy. How are

[00:04:02] Craig Dalton: Yeah, good to see you. Yeah, it's been a while. I feel like we've exchanged a few texts here and there over the last, say, 30 or 40 days, but we haven't actually connected.

[00:04:11] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, I think, uh, you've been pretty busy with work and with family and on my end, um, I just bought a house and so that's been occupying a lot of my mindshare and time, uh, which

[00:04:22] Craig Dalton: That's huge. I'm both, I'm both excited for you and then a little sad cuz I think feel like that has more permanence of you on the East coast than not on the West coast.

[00:04:32] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, the good news there is that, um, I will have two different little, uh, guest loft suites in the space. And so come out anytime with the fam and, uh, we'll put you up.

[00:04:43] Craig Dalton: Great. Where is the house located?

[00:04:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Kingston, New York, which, um, folks here may have heard us talk in the past about the Old Positive Festival. Um, and, uh, we actually sponsor that ride and that ride will be the sixth through the eighth and, uh, of October. Um, and the riding out here is beautiful. It's right in the Catskills, the Hudson Rivers there.

It's the original capital of New York State. And so there's a lot to do, a lot to experience, and I can't wait to. I mean, to meet some of the people, um, in our, you know, in the ridership and, and some of our listeners out here now that I'm officially putting down roots.

[00:05:21] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I know you've spent, uh, a bit of time there in the past through the O Positive Festival and other rides you've, you've had with, with friends up there. What's, what's the riding like in that area?

[00:05:31] Randall R. Jacobs: uh, we have mountains. Uh, the biggest mountain in the Catskills is about 4,000 feet. Uh, you can't ride to the summit, but there are plenty of hills, as you might imagine. Uh, and then Kingston is this little. Urban oasis amongst the sea of, you know, towns and, um, you know, and, uh, farms. Uh, there's communes, there's, there's lots of, um, interesting social innovation, new economics type thinking happening here.

Um, and as far as the riding, it's, it. It's like classic northeast riding, um, quiet back roads, plenty of gravel. Uh, there's a rail trail, uh, that comes out of town here and goes up into the, uh, into the mountains. So plenty to do.

[00:06:21] Craig Dalton: And just geographically speaking, so you know, listeners can figure out where is Kingston without going to a map, how would you describe it relative to other big city landmarks?

[00:06:31] Randall R. Jacobs: So it is about an hour and a half to two hours from, uh, Manhattan on the Hudson River. Uh, if you are coming from little further north, uh, I come from Boston, so it's about three hours from, from my hometown of Waltham, uh, out on the 90 and and south from there for about 45 minutes. So right on the border with, with Connecticut on the Hudson River.

[00:06:55] Craig Dalton: Okay. Awesome, awesome. Well, I know like we've had a lot of listeners from that area and I know it's got a great cycling community. I think the interesting thing about um, the east coast cycling communities is you have such good proximity to other communities, right? So if you live in ride in Kingston and you have an opportunity to.

Go to an event in Vermont, like that's feasible, right? Versus going to Vermont for us from the West coast is obviously a bit more of a, of a hike.

[00:07:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and there's lots of small local events in the Northeast as well, which is, which is quite great. And I love the vibe at those. Uh, there's a place for the really big events, and we'll talk about Sea Otter in a second. Uh, but the intimacy of an event that has 200, 300 people show up and, you know, everyone's volunteering and it, you know, maybe the funds go towards some local cause, uh, is something that's very New England.


[00:07:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And I mean, I know you've been operating out of Massachusetts for a while, for, for thesis bike and locus components. Any changes in operation for, for, for the business, for moving up to that area?

[00:08:03] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, I will need to take my laptop with me from Walham to Kingston, um, and then hook up to an internet connection here, uh, to do all the same things as before. But otherwise, we've always been, uh, a remote distributed team with, uh, you know, warehouses, one in the US and one in Taiwan. So that'll all stay the same.

[00:08:25] Craig Dalton: Yeah, we don't have time to get into it on this podcast, but I have heard about this thing called the internet and how it empowers entrepreneurs to work from around the world.

[00:08:34] Randall R. Jacobs: It's like a series of tubes, um, is what I heard from one, uh, senator in, uh, deliberations at one point. But, uh, I'll, I'll have to read his testimony, uh, you know, in more detail. So let's, let's get in, let's get into something serious here. Um,


[00:08:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

[00:08:50] Randall R. Jacobs: Lots of stuff to cover. Um, the, the, we have, you know, escape Collective.

We had Kaylee Fritz on the pod, uh, a few months ago talking about, um, what came next after, uh, he was let go at outside and that's huge. Escape , they have a, a, um, a member funded model for independent cycling media. Uh, they are over subs. They, they more than, uh, achieve their goals in terms of the initial subscribership.

And they've got people like James Huang on board who, you know, as you know, I, I personally respect immensely. He's obvi, arguably the best in the game. Um, and, uh, yeah, they, they seem to be doing it. Uh, I think it's super promising.

[00:09:39] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it was really interesting that interview you had with him earlier in the year and how he was teasing out some ideas, but pretty impressive how quickly they moved from ideation to actually execution and pretty impressive how many other journalists across a number of different disciplines they managed to get involved in the project.

Great to see like, Their community and their following. I think a lot of these journalists have pretty strong individual followings. Good to see those followings all kind of come together and see an enterprise such as Escape Collective garner enough early subscribers to kind of kick it off and become a going concern.

[00:10:26] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, I think it speaks to the quality of the community and the content that they were creating at Cycling Tips, which was founded by Wade Wallace. I remember the early days of cycling tips. I was. It was, you know, my racing days and that was the go-to cycling tips blog. It's where you went to get like inside line on training with power in the latest tech and so on.

And they did such a good job and continued doing a phenomenal job right up until the end. , uh, when unfortunately, you know, economic pressures and, you know, venture capital demands, um, on the model at outside, you know, uh, resulted in a lot of good people being let go and then, um, a lot of people following them after.

But, you know, it's, and the, I, I don't know if you've been in Velo Club. Which was the cycling tips, uh, slack forum,

um, super vibrant, healthy, uh, community there. And those people, I mean, I think, I think it's still active. Actually. I'm, I'm in, I'm in that slack, but they have a new discus, or, or I should say discord and um, you know, those dynamics are continuing.


[00:11:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

[00:11:34] Randall R. Jacobs: it just goes to show that like, The label of the, the publication mattered a lot less than the integrity and the competency of the people involved with the project. And, uh, yeah, I'll power to them. I, I'm very excited to have this sort of funding model for independent cycling media.

[00:11:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. I am as well. I'm, I'm, you know, I'm a member and excited to kind of get it into my routine of sites that I hit for cycling news, and I'm, I'm still trying to get it straight in my head, like, where, why, and what I'm going for there is it, Long form media, is it the podcast, et cetera. But, you know, super excited to support what they're doing.

And I'd love to see the, the sort of media go that direction. I do sort of have some sort of concerns as to, okay, six months from now, eight months from now, a year from now, how does the economic model pan out? Right? Can they, can they get more subscribers? Can they, can they do more? Can they all get paid what they deserve to get paid?

Under this model, I'm, I'm hopeful that there's enough shift in how people want to, uh, pay for the content they're consuming, that they can achieve the goals and make it, you know, a con going concern for years to come.

[00:12:45] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and if anyone knows what the potential is, it's the people on that team because they had the numbers from when they were at cycling tips. Right, so they know what the potential market size is and what the willingness to pay. Um, they had a lot of people paying 99 bucks a year, and that's, that's significant.

Um, but you're right. Yeah. If you have a, a, a crew of, you know, 15 full-time. Uh, journalists, um, you know, that that requires sig significant funding, particularly if you are going to not entirely forego advertising, but, um, have it be largely member funded and, uh, forego, uh, for reasons of, of ethos, um, any sort of like, Pay to play or, you know, um, are, we may earn a small commission when you click this link and buy the product that we just did the review of.

And even if there's journalistic integrity in the review, well, you know, it, it's still isn't a great look. Um, so, so,


[00:13:46] Craig Dalton: it was interesting. I, I was listening to, uh, another podcast the other day, um, and it was reminded of the cycling independent. which was something that was started, you know, maybe 18 months ago. And it's, it's, I'm curious like how both businesses evolve. I mean, I think with the Escape Collective, the journalists involved, they all had big social followings and, uh, a lot of committed kind of listeners and fans and, and readers of their work.

So I think they had an easier time kind of bringing together enough subscribers versus like, I don't hear a ton about the cycling in depend.

[00:14:23] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and I, I think to the community piece, they were really engaged. You look at the, the, I've said this on the pod before, the comment sections in their articles, they were in there and answering questions and providing perspective, and then the forum, um, you know, there are real relationships formed in the forum, as with ours.

But, uh, the scale, or when I say ours, I mean collectively, ours, not you and I, uh, the, the, the ridership community. . Uh, but I think that that is where they really differentiated themselves and it's, it's been an inspiration. There's a reason why I kind of wax on about this is because, uh, for me, I looked at that and it's like, oh, I would love to be involved in building something like that.

Um, you know, just from a distance, not, not that I want to be a cycling journalist. Um, I got, I already have a job, but

[00:15:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I mean, sort of selfishly like it, it's nice to have readers and listeners acknowledge the work that you're doing by paying some amount of. to support what you're doing right. It gives you a little bit of wind in your sails. And obviously like you and I are in positions where this is something we do for fun, obviously, like I want my costs, uh, taken care of ideally by sponsors or contributors to the podcast,

[00:15:38] Randall R. Jacobs: Speaking of which,

[00:15:40] Craig Dalton: on it.


[00:15:41] Randall R. Jacobs: where can people go to, uh, support Craig Dalton in, uh, covering the cost for the Gravel Ride Podcast

[00:15:47] Craig Dalton: uh, buy me a gravel.

[00:15:51] Randall R. Jacobs: There, you hear it

[00:15:52] Craig Dalton: This. This was not a long-winded plug for that, by the way,

[00:15:58] Randall R. Jacobs: Um, yeah. Every, every single dollar of it goes towards just covering the costs. I certainly don't take a penny, nor do I want a penny. Uh, this has benefits for me that, that more than cover any sort of cost that I could incur. And this is just fun.

[00:16:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Well, let's, let's transition into riding and, and, uh, general geekery. One thing I wanted to comment on, so, you know, it's been raining like cats and dogs this winter in California. I mean, it's been, it's been crazy and I've been out here for, for 20 years at this point, and this has been the most disruptive weather.

to my cycling that I've ever experienced in California. Um, so it's, it's driven me indoors a little bit. And one of the funny things I found, like, I think it was like two months ago at this point, stepping back for a second, at the beginning of the pandemic, my wife and I had a discussion around indoor trainer bikes.

I was advocating for a trainer to put my bike on like so I could connect his lift. She wanted to get a Peloton. It was clear she was gonna probably enjoy the indoor cycling more than I was, cuz typically in California I like to ride outside. That's all I do. But we, so we ended up getting a Peloton. And quick aside on Peloton, I did find the platform.

Great. Like it definitely is fun, enjoyable, like I can see why people like it. It, uh, my annoyance with it has more been around, like if someone instructor is telling me to stand up and go 120 RPMs, I'm just like, What are you talking about? I would never do that when actually riding a bicycle and that kind of stuff irks me.

But I have found my instructors who are cyclists and so they don't stay crazy, stuff like that. But at the same token, like this whole, this whole world of Swif obviously has kicked off through the pandemic and see countless friends on Strava posting theirs with files. And I was always curious. I had become aware of a, a Kickstarter project that sort of went over.

Resistance snob on the Peloton, but it never went off the ground. I found out about that, you know, two plus years ago. But just recently I found about, found out about this product. It's a hardware hack, which I love. I love the hardware game. Um, it's called the data Data fitness Connector, and I found it by searching like Pelotons with connection.

And it's this little box that you unplug a couple of the wires that go into the pelo. And kind of create this junction box, if you will. That junction box will take the power data and beam it over to your Z Wif account, in my case, on an iPad. So I've been, the last two months, maybe less than that, I've been kind of experiencing zw and understanding what everybody's been raving about.

And you know, I, it definitely has me working out.

[00:18:50] Randall R. Jacobs: Hmm.

Yeah, just the,

[00:18:53] Craig Dalton: I think it's because Y Yeah, because there is like, there is this sort of sense that you're on a group ride, right? And getting dropped. I now, I don't have to leave my house to get dropped. I can get dropped right in my garage.

[00:19:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Congratulations,

[00:19:09] Craig Dalton: Yeah. But, you know, so anyway, quick aside, I mean, this product exists. I have found it interesting. It's just been nice. Like hopefully we're kind of getting to the other side of this rain period and I can get outside more. But, um, it's kind of kept me busy and definitely worked me over on a couple instances where I, you know, I rarely get off a, an indoor bike needing to go like, get a recovery drink or take a nap.

But that's definitely been the.

[00:19:35] Randall R. Jacobs: I was gonna crack a joke and say, and they have it, folks. Cycling is over. Craig Dalton hosts the Gravel Ride podcast, lives at the base of Mount Tam and is riding in digital worlds instead of going outside. But perfectly reasonable, um, you know, perfectly reasonable to be riding indoors in those conditions.

And in general, I'm, I'm just joking if you lo if you love it. Some, I mean, I hear, I've read stories about serious cyclists who've transitioned almost entirely to indoor cycling as a consequence of just life constraints. Having kids, you know, a lot of busy work schedule and whatever, uh, all power to you.

Not my jam, but I can absolutely understand why it's somebody's jam out there. So,

[00:20:16] Craig Dalton: to underscore how crazy the weather's been out here. So obviously like I'm in the Bay Area, we're getting the rain, but when you go up to Tahoe, these atmospheric rivers are creating. Feet upon feet of snow and I, I just caught wind. I, I'm was hoping and intending to do the, the trucky gravel, Fondo, I forget what they call it.

It just had, uh, Carlos on talking about it a few episodes ago in early June, and I just caught wind that they're talking about having to postpone that event in June because some of the areas where they go will likely still be covered in.

[00:20:53] Randall R. Jacobs: Which Tahoe in that area is beautiful, but I do wonder how like people were buried for two weeks. Um, you have to really love winter sports and, and solitude. I, I feel in order to live up there. Uh, but, uh,

[00:21:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I w I was up there to, there you go. I, I thought about that on my last trip to Fatbike, but then a storm came in and the guy told me it was horrible for fat biking in an actual storm. So I tabled that. I was up at a boy scout cabin with my son and his scout t troop, and we had to enter the cabin on the second floor because the snow pack in the field was at 10 feet

[00:21:35] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, isn't that a, a thing in the Tahoe area? Like you, you have an a, a lot of the houses have a second floor en entrance because certain times of year that's where you're getting in. And the only way, and maybe the only way you're getting out

[00:21:46] Craig Dalton: I, I don't know about that, but it certainly is logical this, this winter.

[00:21:51] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Uh, that's funny. That's funny.

[00:21:55] Craig Dalton: Um, but onto more forward thinking, writing plans. I mean, I know we're both hoping to get out to Sea Otter in April, so this coming month.

[00:22:05] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, if anyone's gonna be out there, definitely hit us up in the, uh, in the ridership and let's meet up. Uh, there'll be, uh, I know that Enduro is hosting an event. I don't, uh, have the details offhand here. I'll, I'll make, uh, I'll mention it in the next podcast in case people want to join. Uh, and I'll be there.

And, um, Sam Jackson, my colleague, will be there. And hopefully you'll be there as well if you're, if you happen to be, uh, at the show at that time. Um, and yeah, if we hear any, anything cool going on, we'll definitely announce it here so that we can all meet up cuz uh, it's always good to put faces with some of the names and, and to just connect with folks.

[00:22:44] Craig Dalton: Yeah, un undoubtedly. There'll be group rides, et cetera, in the days surrounding Sea Otter, as people probably know, it's a four or five day long festival at this point, with every single discipline of riding available. And I, I, I'm pretty sure there was when we were down there last year, Thursday and Friday and maybe even Saturday, there was multiple gravel ride options from various vendors and partners out.

[00:23:11] Randall R. Jacobs: I am, I'm trying to type and, um, talk at the same time. I'm wondering how many people attend. Uh, I feel like it's on the order of a hundred thousand or so.

[00:23:19] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think

[00:23:20] Randall R. Jacobs: it's

it's huge. And the facts, I, you know, I love, I love the format. Um, so it has become the industry's de facto most important trade show in North America.

Um, and the fact that it's also a festival and the trade show. Um, largely consumer facing, uh, consumer facing, ugh, uh, rider facing. So you can go and talk to the engineers and the product people at the, you know, who, who are behind the, the things that you use or interested in. Uh, I think is really cool. Uh, so I actually skipped Taipei show this year cause I didn't have any.

Strategic sourcing stuff to do, and it's a long flight and I didn't, you know, didn't wanna go to mainland right now. Um, you know, after that. Um, and, you know, I'm gonna go to Sea Otter and see all those people there. Uh, and yeah, it's, it's a lot of fun. Haven't raced it in a while. Do you have

any races planned or.

[00:24:14] Craig Dalton: you know, last year I did that, the gravel race at Sea Otter, which if the timing works, I would do, and I think it may actually be on Friday. Uh, but I will definitely be riding logos six 50 B wheels this year. Last year I think you were in the final kind of production version, and I wrote the 700 C set that you lent.

Which I loved, but it was not the wheel set for this course. Cause it's so rough that the mountain bikers hammered it. There was a lot of just breaking bumps, et cetera. So this year I feel like I have the full knowledge. I'm bringing my titanium unicorn frame with a suspension fork and six 50 B wide ass tires.

And I'm gonna bomb that course if I can, if I can have the time to.

[00:25:04] Randall R. Jacobs: bomb. That course. Like m o

[00:25:05] Craig Dalton: Ba bomb.

[00:25:07] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh, bomb. That course. Okay. I was like, is this, is this some new, new slang the kids are using these days? Um,

[00:25:14] Craig Dalton: like, you know, my, my kid's slang is not solid, so don't, don't look to me for that. But one of the things I wanted to revisit, um, you had mentioned, and this is so true, it's like Seattle Oder has become this moment in the cycling world's year where they reveal some next new technology. Shram just kind of dropped a bomb this, this week, I think it was.

And I, I think we should dig into that cuz I, it, while it was a, a mountain bike centric release today, it's definitely gonna affect the gravel world.

[00:25:49] Randall R. Jacobs: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It's, it's what's next? Um, so where do we wanna start?

[00:25:56] Craig Dalton: Well, why don't you tee up like, what the heck are we talking about? What did I just reference?

[00:26:00] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, so Ceramic has a new, um, group set. It's an electronic mountain bike group set. Um, and the, the key part of this, I, I don't think, you know, the others are covering this in far better detail. Um, escape Collective, actually I think is Dave Rome over there. Um, Yeah, he wrote the, this really long form Well, well done, uh, piece that I'm referencing.

Uh, and I also listened to their podcast discussion on the topic. Um, the key element here is the death of the derailer hangar, um, in the back, which I think is a very good thing, but that has some potentially very negative consequences as well that have nothing to do with the tech and the experience and everything to do with competition and innovation in the bicycle industry.

[00:26:47] Craig Dalton: We'll roll back for a second. The death of the Derailer hangar. How do you, we have derailers. We need derailers. How are we gonna remove the derailer hanger from this equation?

[00:26:57] Randall R. Jacobs: so Derailer hangers, uh, if you go back, um, you know, original Derailers, they had this little extension on the rear drive side dropout of the frame, and it was all metal frames in the early days. Um, and you would have a threaded. You know, a threaded hole that you can screw a derailer into, and if it bent you bent it back out.

It wasn't replaceable. And so if it snapped off, you had to go to a welder or your frame was toast, or it was now a single speed. Um, fast forward you have, you know, the advents of replaceable derailer hangers. Um, and with metal frames, these could be made pretty robust. Um, but every company had their. and anyone who's tried to source a derailer hangar will know.

There's like, this entire business is built around having every single last derailer hanger on hand. Um, which is absurd. And a lot of the designs aren't very good, and even the good ones can be hard to find. Uh, and literally hundreds, hundreds of different skews, um, uh, stocking units. Um, and when you got to composite frame, They needed to be, you know, composite frames, ultra lightweight aluminum frames.

Um, you'd have to make them even lighter so they'd be more prone to bending and braking. and then you add to that wide range drive, trains that use really big cassettes in the back. So this is, you know, it started with 36 and then 42, and now we're at a 52 tooth pie plate in the back. I'm sure somebody will try to one up everyone else and it'll be 53 and you know we'll, we'll, we'll at some point it you'll be riding on your.

Uh, largest cog rather than your tire. Um, and then we'll have 32 ORs and 36 er wheels. But, but anyways, not to go too far down a rabbit hole, but this just resulted in a situation where you had this, this piece that's designed to fail. It's designed to protect the frame and the event of a crash and designed to be replaceable, but it's a pain to replace it cuz there's so many different ones.

Um, and it's just not up to the task. Not to mention it's. um, you know, something that is, that can fail is also not gonna be very stiff. Um, so it's gonna affect shifting. Um, and then the precision with which shifting can be controlled. . It's not just a matter of the derailer alignment. It's also, um, if the derailer is flexing as, uh, sorry, if the hangar is flexing, as the derailer is trying to shift particularly into a larger cog, you know, that's gonna affect shifting performance.

Uh, and then, and, you know, I, I won't be too exhaustive here, but then there's also the fact that you now have another, um, set of tolerances. Between the derailer and the cogs. So, you know, you have the, the cassette itself, you have the end cap, you have the dropout, you have the hangar, and then you finally get to the derailer.

And so that just results in a lot of, of, you know, manufacturing tolerance issues across multiple manufacturers.

So that's how we got here today.

[00:30:05] Craig Dalton: so in the history, so originally metal frame bending, potential for failure there. Um, improvement to that next generation of replaceable derailer hangers, cuz at least if we bent our derailer hangar, we could replace it. It might be hard to replace, but we could replace it. And then what comes next?

[00:30:24] Randall R. Jacobs: so, so, yeah. So we've gotten to a place where, you know, this, this particular solution is no longer. Great. I mean, it's fine. It works. Um, so a direct mount interface, so this is the, um, str, uh, released a few years ago. Their universal derailer hangar, standard U D H, and you can source this anywhere. It's readily available, it's cheap.

Um, it's robust. Um, and a lot of, particularly mountain. Manufacturers have been building to this drive side, rear drive side dropout standard so that it can integrate this universal hangar

[00:31:04] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And as I'm

[00:31:06] Randall R. Jacobs: through axle threads right into.

[00:31:08] Craig Dalton: yeah, so I was gonna say, as I'm kind of visualizing it, that's sort of a largest, large-ish hole in the frame where the axle would go through, and then you're putting the. Derail the replaceable derailer hanger. This, this u d h Derailer hanger through the axle next to the frame.

Kind of in that, in that configuration.

[00:31:28] Randall R. Jacobs: Yes. And that largely solves the issue of having so many different standards. And it is a good standard, it's a well executed, um, derailer hangar as far as derailer hangers go. But it still has

[00:31:42] Craig Dalton: But is that,

[00:31:43] Randall R. Jacobs: in terms of being need, uh, you know, needing to be made in a way that it can fail in the event of a crash.

And if it can fail in the event of a crash, it's gonna be more flexible and so on.

[00:31:54] Craig Dalton: And is that, does that work for both Shram and Shaman? Derailers.

[00:31:59] Randall R. Jacobs: it works for any derailer because it's still the same exact mounting interface for the Derailer. So that's where we get to today with this release. And what I believe is the most, you know, uh, uh, well, I, I think it's, uh, a very significant, um, development, um, in part because of the performance and durability benefits that it provides, but also significantly because of the implications for.

Innovation and comp competition, uh, in the bike industry.

[00:32:31] Craig Dalton: One, one question before we go into that, which is just I think a real critical point to underscore the U D H. Uh, was that an kind of open source design? Could anybody make a U D H Derailer hangar?

[00:32:46] Randall R. Jacobs: Uh, I believe I, I'm not certain, but, um, I wouldn't be surprised because the, um, the strategic benefit of U D H comes from having it implemented across as many bicycles as possible. And so, um, and STRs selling them for cheap, uh, it's not a huge money maker. . I, I, I don't, I can't recall if I said have said this directly on the pod, but I've definitely alluded to such things in other conversations.

You know, I viewed it as a Trojan horse from Day one and a Trojan horse in the sense of, um, you have this hangar. That May is the universal hangar, and it is a Trojan horse for a derailer that bypasses the hangar. And so now my question is, can other derailer makers also attach to the frame in the same way bypassing the hangar.

Or is that unique to str And now STR is the only option that you can have on your bike and a bike manufacturer has to design, has to choose at the design and manufacturing stage, STR or notam, just like they choose Bosch or Shaman or bong at when they're building an e-bike. And that, that would be a rate, a very negative development.

Um, for reasons that we can get into.

[00:34:05] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So we, we leapt forward a little bit, and I just wanna make sure this is not lost because I derailed the conversation. This new d Derailer. Actually does not have that derailer hangar piece. The whole entire derailer, if I'm understanding it correctly, is designed to kind of slot around the frame just as that hangar did, and again, used the uh, through axle as kind of a supporting mechanism that kind of locks it all together.

[00:34:37] Randall R. Jacobs: Um, the, it stays attached without the through axle, but the through axle threads into it. So it attaches to the frames, basically a, a hole, and then it, you know, comes together and, and, and holds itself in place. Um, and it can rotate, uh, and so on. But,

[00:34:53] Craig Dalton: Yeah, it's.

[00:34:54] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, the now this new Derailer, um, which is a good thing, attaches and bypasses that hangar.

Now what do you deal in, you know, how do you deal with, uh, like, uh, a crash, right? How does the new Derailer deal with a crash? Well, first off, it's much more inbound because you don't have that hangar. Um, Design that forces you to, you know, have more components hanging further out of the bike. So it's tighter, so it's, it's less exposed.

Um, but then also ceramic has done a really good job of designing a, uh, like a clutch mechanism or, or like a, I forget what they're calling it, but essentially you can impact this thing with a hammer, and it's going to, it's going to move, it's going to give, and then, Push it back into place and the thing is solid.

Um, it's, it would take quite an impact. Um, I suspect having not ridden it have, having not seen their testing data, it'd take quite an impact for this derail to fail or for it to result in forces to the frame that would cause the frame to fail. Uh, instead of the hang, instead of the

[00:35:58] Craig Dalton: it's, it's so interesting, you know, in a world of iterative designs, when you see a leap like this, it's just super interesting and I encourage people to like source a picture of this to see how it kind of sandwiches around the frame. And as Randall as you just described, you know, because the derailer hangar's not in the equation, you do have more kind of girth and protective material right in there.

That's part of the derailer mechanism itself,

[00:36:24] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Yeah. So, and I, and I would go again, um, not getting paid for this, but I'm, I'm, I'll go ahead and plug Escape Collective dot cc's coverage of this, because it is comprehensive. Um, and it was a, a se one of it was the best one that I dug up in my research about this. Um, though I'd love to, for them to cover some of the economic implications that we can dive into.

[00:36:49] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Well, let's, I mean, let's talk about that. So, I mean, obviously like this requires the frame to have had that u d h kind of dropout set up to begin with. Now suppo, I mean, I, I would imagine like, okay, if you get a frame like that, you have two options. You could choose a, a new derailer like this, like the one they just release.

Or you could still use that original U D H Derailer hanger, say if you wanted to use a Shaman Drive train.

[00:37:21] Randall R. Jacobs: Correct. And as a consequence, shaman and any other, um, competing derail maker will be stuck using this old interface and not the, this new, more robust one. And so it's a, it, you know, being first to market with it and having patented around all the other ways that it could be implemented or attached to.

Um, I, I don't have a definitive answer on whether or not other dreier makers can, uh, attach to a U D h, um, universal dreier hangar equipped bicycle in this same direct mount way. Um, but if STR has precluded others from attaching in that same way, then it truly was the Trojan horse. That I was concerned about when I first saw this, because the benefit of a universal dror hangar is very obvious.

But now you've, we as an industry have given up a tremendous amount of freedom in terms of IOP interoperability and that, you know, you know, that goes into, they're now calling this a transmission. What does transmission, what's the difference between a transmission and a drive? , all I see is that a transmission means you're not allowed to use other people's components. It's all the same parts, but it now, it is now even more of a walled garden.

Um, then, then it already was as a result of having a closed protocol. So different, you know, the, the shift sh third party shifters can't communicate with strand's, derails, you know, a new chain design, which has some benefits but then doesn't work with other, or they, you know, it's claimed not to work with other people's cassettes and chain rings.

Um, you know, they had the new bo, they had the new spindle standard, which again, like, um, that is more. So, you know, the dub, uh, spindle standard, um, and has some other benefits. But, and then you have the fact that like, as an oem, um, already they were not allowing OEMs to mix and match components from third parties even if they, um, Were compatible or, or if the OEM was taking the risk of it not working.

Um, and in fact, you know, so like in our case, we ended up ha having to buy an entire groupo and then just hold on to the stock we didn't want to use so that we could offer some third party components from say, you know, e thirteens cassette or our aluminum cranks for, you know, more budget option or whatever.

Um, uh, you know, and, and then we end up sitting on some extra STR stock that we were forced to.

[00:39:57] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. It's super interesting and just super interesting to kind of play this forward in this, you know, does the, does the historic way a derailer attach go away over time? And what happens if you have a fr old frame and parts don't become available because everything's transitioning to this new format?

[00:40:18] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, I think that there's, you know, again, um, still not clear. I would love if, if any listener has, you know, has or wants to dive into ceramic's patents on this, I'll do so myself at some point. Um, I have some clarity on whether or not other third party derails can attach in the same. , that would be, you know, that would be a, a significant, um, significant thing to know.

Um, and, you know, this, this fits the interesting thing here is, um, it fits a pattern, uh, where so already, like, um, there's a lot of patterns around shift lever design and on a road bike, you know, as soon as you have sh you know, shift leaders in levers integrated with the. . Um, well first it was indexing, so instead of friction shifters you had like indexed, um, which I indexing.

So you have those little clicks that knock it into certain gears, and those clicks are used to correspond with a mechanical system with a certain amount of pull. Like the pull ratio of the cable to actuate the derailer. And so, you know, shaman would constantly vary their pull ratio to make their own compat different group sets not compatible with each other or to preclude.

Ironically, uh, grip shifts the precursor to RAM from getting any market share. Uh, and then when that wasn't working quite well enough, they forced o they, they didn't force, they told OEMs like, if you buy a complete group set, you get a 20% discount, or whatever it was. And as a result, it was no longer economic to s to, um, to spec grip shift on your bike. And the ironic thing is, uh, str sued them, won millions of dollars. Um, it that may, I don't know if that lawsuit was existential for them, but certainly, um, had it gone the other way, we might not have str as we know it. Uh, and now we're seeing what for me looks like very analogous sort of, um, anti-competitive, um, tendencies in the bike industry that will.

Cons, we're seeing innovation, but you have to ask the question, what innovation would we see if more people, if more companies were allowed to innovate on the individual components? Uh, and the, and the, you know, interoperability was something that was, uh, considered from the get-go as opposed to very actively tr you know, thwarted.

[00:42:46] Craig Dalton: Yeah. The battle continues, I suppose, and we'll see whether it's uh, through some sleuthing, through patent. Documents or a year from now, let's say another manufacturer comes out with a derailer that attaches in the same way. It's gonna be interesting to see, as you noted early on, this current announcement is a mountain bike groupo, but I, I know several manufacturers including, uh, envy with their new MOG gravel bike, is using this dropout.

So they're certainly prepared on a going forward basis to use. This type of derailer system should one come out specific, uh, in the Explorer Groupo.

[00:43:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. And, um, there's a, a really good case study that I dug up years ago when I was working on the open bike project, which was an attempt to create an open platform for bicycle electronics and software and hardware, um, called Shaman Inside. , uh, and I dug it up and I will make sure that we put it in the show notes for anyone who's curious about the history of, um, you know, Sam and Shaman and, and you know, the evolution of the drier and poll ratios and all this other stuff and how it affects, uh, economics and market dynamics, which as you can tell, I have a little bit of an interest in.

[00:44:01] Craig Dalton: Well, this was fun. I mean, that was big news that came out this week, and certainly if any, you know, if any of our listeners want to jump into the conversation, come into the ridership, that's the ridership, or sorry,, and look forward to those conversations. I can hold my, I feel like I can hold my own to a certain degree, certainly on the economic side and the game theory and strategy side of things.

But as we get into the deeper technical nuances, you definitely have me in spades.

[00:44:32] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, well, um, I have spent way too much time on this and spoken with, um, When I was doing the open bike projects, you know, every single Taiwanese vendor. Was trying to, uh, get the other Taiwanese vendors to work together on a, on an open platform and things like this. So it's something I've gotten into the weeds in, uh, on, maybe in a uniquely deep way.

Um, so thank you for the opportunity to actually share. I've been wanting to nerd about this sort of thing on the pod since, uh, since joining, and there just hasn't been the appropriate time. But with this, uh, it just seemed like the time. Um, I do wanna close up with one thought on this, um, which is, um, the engineering on this new group set from SCRAM looks outstanding.

They have some super clever stuff in there. Um, and I commend the engineering. The engineering, I, there's a lot of things that. I look at and I was like, wow, what? That never even occurred to me. Like they have this pulley wheel on the hangar that, um, is super skeletal. So it has a lot of space and it's big.

It's one of the, you know, 16 teeth. And they designed it in a way where if, if something gets jammed in there like a stick, well it's an aluminum, um, like spider. That the bearings are in, and then there's a, uh, a plastic, uh, piece that is the actual cogs and that can spin independent of that spider. this is brilliant.

So, so if that wheel, if the something gets jammed in the spider and stops it, that'll keep spinning. Um, so, you know, there's lots of clever stuff like this and so I don't want to at all take away from the design and the engineering, the execution on this and the fact that it is genuine, um, a genuine leap forward and innovation for the industry.

I'm just concerned about the implications for innovation generally, and h. The loss of, uh, competition even until now, meaning that, you know, maybe we would've had these innovations much sooner if we didn't have these dynamics.

[00:46:36] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Important to note and acknowledge that amazing innovation that the design team over there had worked on. You sort of wonder if they were just given a blank slate and said, you know, think about performance in the derailer and the dropout and the hangar. Don't be constrained by anything, and this is what they came up with.

[00:46:57] Randall R. Jacobs: you need a lot of resource and a lot of market power to make something like that work, which is why, you know, you only see, uh, really swam and shaman able to do it these days. And, uh, campy has done a good job with ecar in creating a competitive product. But it's, it's, it's not at, um, you know, it's not electronic.

It's not, it's not really moving the needle that much. It's just an extra cog for the most part. Uh,

[00:47:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah,

[00:47:21] Randall R. Jacobs: But,

[00:47:22] Craig Dalton: Well, super good to catch up with you and my friend.

[00:47:24] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah, we've been nerding for a bit. Should we, uh, save, save the other things we had on our list for a future conversation, I suppose.

[00:47:32] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think so. We're good to catch up and we'll, we'll chat again soon and we'll get all these links in the show notes so people can dig deep, read all about this and form their own opinions.

[00:47:43] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, and absolutely drop some comments too in the ridership. Um, I would love to get some external perspective here cuz usually this is just a, you know, industry insider talk and, um, I don't know that this has been discussed in a public forum all that much. So, uh, would love to hear, uh, the community's input.

That's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. As Randall just mentioned. We'd love to hear from you on this topic at the ridership, just visit to join the conversation.

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