I was driving back from a bike ride the other day, and a man came up to me at a gas station to ask me about my bike. Apparently he thought I was a pro cyclist because he had only seen such equipment on pro bikes when he was into cycling 25 years ago.

The man was wrong on two points.  First, my bike cost $500, while pro bikes are up to $10,000.  Second, the top cyclists in the world in 1980 could not get a bike like mine for any price. The world of cycling technology does not evolve as fast as say, computers, but thanks to global capitalism it does evolve, and over time, the difference is amazing.

Here is a list of equipment on my bike not available 20 years ago (I’m not an expert, there’s probably much more)

  • Aluminum alloy frame (introduced 1975, popularized 1983) (pro bikes now use carbon fiber and titanium)
  • Shimano STI derailleur (1990’s) with index shifting (1985) (allows much faster shifting than previous friction systems)
  • Shimano integrated brake/shift levers – 1990
  • Garmin cycle computer (1983), with GPS navigation tools (1990), wireless cadence sensor and heart monitor (1977)  All of that in a single tiny device that syncs with your computer and creates an online exersize program is circa 2006.
  • Pearl Izumi antimicrobial lycra/chamois shorts that are ergonomically designed to reduce friction, wick away moisture, and provide padding (1980’s?)
  • Aerodynamic helmet with a vented microshell design for maximum cooling (date unknown, but my 1997-era helmet looks very primitive now)
  • Cygolite lighting system with rechargable NiMH batteries (1983) and LED backup (1990’s)

(Some info found here.)