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Is integration the future?

Canyon Aeroad SLX 9.0 Stem
Jordan Gibbons
23 Jun 2015

Where next in the marginal gains world?

Over the last few years there has been a steady trickle in the industry towards increased integration. First it was integrated headsets, which went down quite well, and then some clever fellow had the idea of integrating handlebars and stems. Now various manufacturers are integrating more and more of their bikes.

The latest photographs of the new Specialized Venge aero bike taken at the Tour de Suisse shows the bike with an integrated stem, seatpost and brakes. The disc brake version also has its own specific wheelset to match the frame. I can hear the cries now of people exclaiming that it’s all a big con to lock you into buying their products but I can’t help but think we’re all miles behind the amount of integration we should have.

If I walked into my local Ducati dealer with £8000 I’d ride out on a complete bike - all designed to work together and built in the same factory. Can you imagine if you bought your frame there but then had to go to another place for the engine, somewhere else for the wheels? You’d tell them they were mad but for some reason with bicycles we just sort of take it.

Canyon Aeroad SLX 9.0 Rear Wheel

In the ever over-worked world of aerodynamics everyone seems to have their own ideas as to what works best and how they measure their magnificence. What happens if you combine a frame that works best at 10 degrees of yaw with a pair of wheels that are at their best at 30 degrees? Have you now lost your theoretical 30% saving over 200km at 45kph? Where have all my watts gone?

Then of course there’s the panic of if items will even fit at all. What bottom bracket do I need to fit my 24mm double into my OSBBRIGHTPRESSFIT frame? A whole industry has appeared to help people fit square pegs into round holes. Integration also removes the element of mucking something up. I’ve ridden some fabulous frames that have been noticeably spoilt by the wrong wheels (not bad wheels – the wrong ones). An £8000 gamble doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

Admittedly there are very few manufacturers out there with the know how to build a complete bike but Specialized and Trek are most of the way there – the only thing they don’t have is a groupset but if they put their mind to it, surely it can’t be far away. I don’t think we should fear integration at all. I think we should embrace it. 

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