Vince Wong | 13th Jul 2015 | FEATURES

Planned obsolescence

Before you buy your next bike, you might want to consider the following – standards! Too often, people buy new bikes without taking into account the standards of the components used in their bikes.

There is the offchance that when you wish to upgrade components later, you might find that the newest and the latest components of the day won’t fit.

To make things worse, because standards go out of style, you may have parts that are on the tail-end of an industry development cycle. You may come across industry hype, for example, that says that in a few years, replacement wear and tear items for 26″ wheels may no longer be available.

That’s crazy-talk, obviously, because in terms of volume, 26″ wheels are amongst the most-well distributed and mass-produced items in the world. And of course, where there is demand, there is sure to be a supply, however niche.

However, to future-proof your investment, because bicycles are so expensive these days, consider having these standards on your next bike.


1.      650B / 27.5 wheelsize

Lastly, unless you’ve been living under a rock (or totally new to mountain biking), the greatest controversy to rent the internet asunder is the 26” vs. 27.5” debate. Let’s just say that the 27.5” wheel standard, also called 650B, seems to be prevalent today, and despite decades of 26” wheel development you’ll find it difficult to buy new bikes designed in 2015 for this stalwart standard.

So before you buy, you might want to ask which size your new bike’s wheels are, and whether it adheres to the standards above. If not, there’s probably a reason, or 10, why that bike is such a bargain.

But who knows? Maybe 26” come back in fashion again. After all, millions of bikes have been sold in this standard. What do you think?

2.      iSpec B shifters

Those in the Shimano camp might feel a bit befuddled to find this item on the list. Yes, a little-known fact about Shimano’s shifters is that since 2013, there have been two types of iSpec shifters, which come without clamps to declutter your cockpit. iSpec A shifters are compatible only with pre-2014 brakes; whilst iSpec B are forward and backward compatible.

Long story short – ensure that your shifters are iSpec B, not A. Otherwise, your new brakes, in time to come, won’t be compatible with your system, and you’ll need to resort to fancy aftermarket parts to get them working together. Or, simply go with the clamped versions of the shifters.

3.      Wide riser bars 

Another trend that goes with the evolution of bike geometry is wide riser bars. How wide and how high? Most bikers who have tried bars 730mm and wider never go back to anything less; ditto with from flat to risers. I know this for a fact because it took more than 6 months for me to shift my used but not abused, condition 9/10, 600mm flat carbon bars on TOGOPARTS.

4.        Short stems (50mm or less)

Bike fit is a matter of personal choice and riding style, so take these recommendations with a hefty pinch of salt. That said, the industry is trending towards short stems to counter long top tubes and slack head angles. This quickens up the steering, which was slowed down by the slack head angle.

How short should your stem be? Anywhere from 40 to 60mm, instead of the 80 to 110mm of yesteryear.

5.      31.8mm (oversized) diameter stems or handlebars

25.4mm stems and handlebars have gone the way of the dodo, in favour of the current standard, 31.8mm. 35mm stems and bars never really quite took off, so stay with 31.8 and avoid the other two if you can – they’ll be hard to replace or sell off in the marketplace later.

6.      Slack headtube angles, steep seat tube angles

If you are reading this, there’s a chance that you are new to mountain biking (if you are not, bear with me for a while). Modern mountain bike geometry has evolved from when bikes were modified beach cruisers and when mountain bike designers took their cues for riding positions from road bikes. The wheelbases of most contemporary mountain bikes are now designed to be long for high speed stability, with low bottom bracket heights for stability when cornering, and slack head tubes to avoid an over-the-bar feeling when going down slopes. So if your new bike has anything more than 67 degrees head angle, and a seat tube less than 71 degrees, you might want to consider a bike that fits the times.

#7.      Tapered fork steerers/headtube

These days, most brands make frames that take a tapered steerer – and there are fewer and fewer fork manufacturers that make straight steerer-forks.

On the offchance that you come across a new bike bargain with a 1 1/8” straight head tube, you might want to reconsider. There’s a possibility that when you want to upgrade your fork in a few years, you won’t be able to find one brand new that fits your frame.

8.      30.9/31.6mm seat tubes

Most people say they don’t need dropper seat posts – until they try one. Then it becomes one of those components that change their riding, like disc brakes. If you’re shopping for a new bike, look for one that has at least 30.9mm or 31.6mm internal diameter seat tube.

These tube sizes are the most common amongst dropper post brands. If you go with a bike with 27.2mm seat tube, for example, you’ll have limited choices.

9.      Threaded bottom brackets

How many bottom bracket standards are there? Dozens, and none are as controversial as pressfit bottom brackets. Pressfit brackets do have a number of potential advantages: frames can be easier and cheaper to make, the bottom bracket can be made bigger and stiffer to withstand flex from pedaling, and installed properly, can be as enduring and maintenance-free as threaded brackets.

If you go with a pressfit BB bike, try to cultivate a good relationship with your local bike shop mechanic. Note that threaded bottom brackets are not nigh-on-unbreakable, but may be easier to maintain – creaks are easier to chase down, too.

10.      15mm front, 142 x 12mm  rear axles, hubs and frames

It wasn’t so long ago that the industry norm was 9mm quick releases both front and back. Next we collectively went mad for 20mm ‘MAXLE’ axles for front forks, and 130 by 10mm quick release rears became the more common option. Now, though, you’ll find many 15mm front axles on most forks, and 130 by 10mm rears are increasingly unpopular.

Boost 148mm rear axles are also a reality now – courtesy of SRAM – but won’t be mainstream for a while yet. In short, 15mm front and 142 by 12mm rear axles are the most popular standards now, and good for another 10 years. Probably.

There is the offchance that when you wish to upgrade components later, you might find that the newest and the latest components of the day won’t fit