I've said time and again here on the site that we're not engineers. We aren't shaping tubes using CAD programs or booking time in the wind tunnel before going to market with a new product. But that doesn't mean we can be completely ignorant about the decisions that the engineers do make. On the contrary, we have to be pretty well educated. We think information drives better purchase decisions, so we do our best to educate ourselves before making the purchases we want to educate you about in turn.
A key consideration in purchase decisions in this industry is tube shape and materials. Performance, personality, brand identity, aesthetics all fall out of the look and feel of cylinders and vessels at the core of it all, so fluency is the cost of doing business for us. I've been on injured reserve most of this season, and have put myself through an immersive study program on the topic. It's work, but I've devoted some time to it every day. I guess I'm lucky - my thirst for knowledge seems unquenchable so far.
Here's what I've learned about tube shapes and materials, which will undoubtedly influence our next round of purchase decisions:
Classic: Classic tubes employ traditional lines designed more around precedence and iconic aesthetics than modern performance considerations. They're still immensely popular among enthusiasts and competitors. For a while, classic tubes were in danger of becoming the absence of a decision. Now, with such a proliferation of alternatives, they are a very conscious decision, one that downplays the role of the tube shape itself, in favor of the overall craftsmanship.
Euro Classic: With a silhouette arechtypically European, you know the presence of these tubes connotes the hardness of a Belgian training season, even without 33 stitches and a polka dot jersey. In fact, you can see in these tubes a devotion to the craft so spiritual, it's not an exaggeration to call it monk-like.
Distinctive: Tube shapes can also be a signature, the very shape of which becomes the brand. Whether the shape translates into any performance benefit is not clear, but in most cases brands sell better than the sum of their attributes anyway.
Aluminum: Modern technology allows for aluminum to command price points comparable to anything on the market, and back it up with surprising performance. What it lacks in feel it makes up for with durability, able to withstand impacts that could splinter and even shatter other materials.
Oversize: I'm no delicate flower so I don't shy away from oversize tubes. They're not just scaled up versions of their small radiused brethren. Well, sometimes they are. But they are capable of instilling confidence to the point of folly, and create an experience that is very nearly intoxicating. Oversized tubes are not as popular, typically reserved for special applications. But to my thinking, they're the cause of what is special, not the effect.