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Shifting opinion: the major political parties as groupsets

Each major political party at this week's General Election but as your favourite road groupsets

With the General Election looming, and party lines changing as quickly as road bike tech, we consider that most important of questions: which parties are most like your favourite groupsets?

It used to be so simple: Labour was for the workers, Conservatives represented the middle classes, and everyone loved Campagnolo.

With a major election set to upset the established norms, we consider the age-old question of which groupset is most like each political party. Ballot papers at the ready…

Labour – Campagnolo

Campagnolo used to be an unchallenged authority in cycling, but the difficulty it faces today is whether to appeal to the nostalgia of the 1970s or embrace a vision for the future. One political party springs to mind.

Firstly let’s not forget the historic achievements – the Gran Sport parallelogram derailleur or the formation of the NHS. We owe them both a debt of gratitude for creating such well-loved institutions, but you could be forgiven for becoming a little tired of being told about it...

That said, Campagnolo is arguably more forward-thinking than Shimano in recent years. Consider the introduction of 12-speed, or its 2005 prototype road electronic groupset. The same could be said of free Broadband and ‘Quantitative Easing for people’ – fantastic ideas that could be game-changing, though may never happen.

And despite their many successes, the fear still abounds that Labour, like Campagnolo, could end up costing a fortune when it all goes wrong.

Conservative – Shimano

Love them or hate them, they’ve been at the top for a while now, and all signs suggest they may well continue to do so. Whether it be Brexit, tax cuts for the wealthy, a refusal to accept 1x for the road, or an inexplicable attachment to press-fit, the message is clear that they don’t have to please everyone to stay in power.

Admittedly, some of their best policies are nicked straight from their competitors – whether it be electronic shifting or the Clean Air Act. But they don’t waste time giving credit and making it work for them so well that everyone thinks they were first anyway.

For better or worse, whether it be disc brakes or austerity, vocal opposition to change hasn’t stopped Shimano and the Tories getting votes in a way that’s often left us scratching our heads.

Are they evil? Who knows. Whatever they’re doing, it seems to work. Whether it be a working-class northerner bashfully voting Conservative, or a top-end Wilier being reticently specced with Shimano Ultegra, the rules are changing and Shimano and the Conservatives seem to give the people what they want.

Lib Dems – Sram

Sram has all the potential to take the world by storm, with innovative ideas and a bold vision of change.

Double Tap and wireless have really shaken things up with the major players but, much like the Lib Dems and tuition fees, Sram is always living in the shadow of its one big mistake – remember the 2014 Road Hydraulic Brake recall?

To Sram’s credit, the brand has been smart to keep a keen eye on compatibility. It can pull off the incredible double-act of mixing parts with Campagnolo or Shimano, just as the Lib Dems have historically been ready to jump into bed with Conservatives or Labour if it means a whiff of power.

The question is, can the public forgive the past, and look at a future to challenge the established names? It’s possible to imagine Sram one day edging past Campagnolo, and someday perhaps the Lib Dem’s models of economic and social liberalism will prove enough to become the main player.

Greens – Microshift

Don’t knock the little guy. Microshift is the best groupset manufacturer that you’ve never thought of buying.

While they may get written off as not being amongst the big players, the history of both politics and groupsets is saturated with complacent giants who get caught napping by the small player with good ideas.

Scottish National Party – Stronglight

The Scottish National Party are brilliant if you live in Scotland and pine for the single issue of independence.

Stronglight cranks are exceptional if you want to shoot around a smooth, wooden 250m track in one-speed.

But, beyond that, neither will do much else.

Change UK – Rotor

With increasing disaffection among voters for the main parties, Change UK must have thought the time was right for a new vision, a new party made up of the best ideas of the others.

Sadly, as the General Election looms, they are nowhere to be seen. And it’s much the same for the Rotor Uno groupset.

Since its introduction, the Rotor Uno hasn’t been within touching distance of the pro peloton. Like Change UK, their thinking is sound and their hearts are in the right place, but they just can’t persuade the public to make the shift.

The chainrings are great, though.

Democratic Unionist Party – FSA

The DUP’s persistent absence from Westminster led many people to forget they even existed. That was until 2017, when they helped the Conservative Party scrape a majority via a coalition and thrusted Arlene Foster into the limelight.

Similarly, the FSA K-Force groupset may be a rarer sight than Jacob Rees-Mogg in jeans, but the mighty Shimano also often relies on FSA to provide components to complete its best-selling groupsets such as 105 and Sora when specced on bikes.

Sometimes it’s the small cogs that keep the big machine turning.

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