Sorry for the terrible pun.
A couple of hors d'oeuvres to start before moving along to the main course. First, back to the future with this year's Tour TTT tech. As we observed in this blog from four years ago, there were a lot of tri-spoke type wheels used, notably by the top two team, at the Tour's TTT. If you're trying to win a Tour-level TT, equipment really matters, and equipment that's good at very very low (approaching 0*) angles of attack is better. Not a lot of focus on tire width in the media, but you can be sure they were narrow. These guys are pros, they go stupid fast, they're great at bike handling, and all they care about is going as fast as possible. Comfort matters something like none, road feel matters almost none, and handling in cross winds matters none unless it's really really windy (just ask Gert Steegemans). Pros often use stuff that's got no relevance to what anyone who's ever going to pay for equipment uses.
Second, cross prep continues. My uber-crush Katerina Nash posted on Instagram yesterday that cross was still really far away. It doesn't feel like that to us, but I guess it's great because that means we're ahead of it for once. We'll do more posts with cross stuff, but for the majority of you who are totally turned off by tubulars, we've got the tubeless section of our notebook stocked up with alternatives that work so well you'd need to race at the UCI level to notice (fortunately we've got that guy to help us get it sorted). And for those who think tubulars are the only way, we've got those too.
Felt Bicycles has announced that they will no longer be introducing new products along the traditional model year system. This is the smartest thing we've heard coming out of the traditional bike business in a long time. The topic was in mind because this article that Mike became aware of (neither of us is a regular reader), which had me thinking about the verticality demanded of a local bike shop versus the horizontality that is our luxury (topic for another day). Anyway, you don't have very far to go to see why model years murder everyone:
1. They devalue dealer stock at the absolute height of the selling season
2. They create disincentives for consumers to buy when they want to be buying
3. They artificial necessity of the calendar encourages manufactured and useless differentiation and dead-end innovation
4. They inflate prices - if you've got a perfectly good set of molds, it's almost impossible to burn that tooling up in a year. Tooling is expensive. Artificially shortening its life - brands have to pay for that, which means you pay for that.
Local bike shops are in a murderously tough spot. They have to cater to a super broad market (all of the people to whom they are local), their supplier relationships are challenging, the distribution channels they're forced to use are absolutely loaded with empty calories, overhead's high and getting higher, managing cash flow is brutal and staffing is even more so. Taking businesses that are this one the edge, and then coming out during the Tour and saying "oh yeah, all that stuff that's actually available to buy on shop floors right now? Total dreck - next year's stuff is 26.3% better in every way" is just mean.
So, well done Felt. I'm sure they will pay a price for doing the right thing, and that's depressing, but far more than any other innovation or wind tunnel test or carbon-weave-this or integrated-that, THIS is the kind of supplier move that will help bike shops survive.