Good Month / Bad Month: New Shoes, Wireless Shifting, Expensive Bikes, & Knife Fights

Apr 2, 2021
by Mike Kazimer  

Lower Priced Electronic Wireless Shifting

SRAM Launches GX AXS

SRAM's release of their new GX AXS wireless electronic drivetrain brings the price of ditching cables and housing down to $600, which gets you a new derailleur, shifter, battery, and a charger. It still doesn't exactly fall into the 'affordable' category, but the price should make it more attainable, and we'll undoubtedly see more complete bikes equipped with the new parts later this year.

Shimano appears to be working on a wireless group of their own, at least based on patents that the Japanese company was recently granted that show a wireless derailleur, dropper post, and suspension. There's still no news as to when the products might show up in real life, though; at the moment SRAM is firmly in the lead when it comes to leaving those cables behind.


Wild Riding in British Columbia

Spring is for sending.

Yoann Barelli, Remy Metailler, and Steve Vanderhoek seemed to be on the Pinkbike homepage every day in March, dissecting gnarly move after gnarly move in the Sea to Sky corridor. While there's plenty of cringe-worthy YouTube mountain biking content out there, this trio's level of talent makes it much more palatable, and the fact that they're able to ride some of the most ridiculous trails on the planet with ease, even in the pouring rain, makes for some highly entertaining, and sometimes inspiring, viewing.

Getting Nerdy

Seb Stott Brings the Science

The addition of Seb Stott to Pinkbike's editorial team means that there is a whole bunch of extra-nerdy riding-related content on the way, the results of combining a degree in experimental physics with a passion for mountain biking.

In March, Seb kicked things off by trying to figure out if using a lockout actually made a difference while climbing (in this case it did), and then followed that up with an excellent breakdown of the science behind pumping. If reading the words “conservation of angular momentum” immediately makes you consider taking a nap, don't nod off just yet – Taj Mijelich added in some clever illustrations to make all that science a little more understandable.

New Shoes

Yes, really. There were a lot of them.

If you were in the market for new mountain bike shoes, March delivered a bumper crop of new options. There may not have been that many new bike launches, but for some reason there were more new shoe announcements than ever.

Ride Concepts released two flat pedals models, the Hellion Elite and the Vice Mid, Specialized debuted their new 2F0 DH and Rime Shoes, and Fizik joined in with their new Gravita models. Even Brandon Semenuk got into the mix with his new signature model from Etnies, the Semenuk Pro.

Getting Along

"Never bring a bike to a knife fight."- @nychc00

One of the most read stories in March had to do with a strange incident on a trail in Bellingham, Washington. There are conflicting reports as to exactly what happened, but the overall gist of it is that a 66-year-old mountain biker encountered a group of hikers while he was riding uphill, some sort of scuffle ensued, and one of the hikers, 69-year-old Dake Traphagen, allegedly stabbed the biker in the fray.

The story should serve as a reminder that being respectful and courteous to other users goes a long way, and no matter if you're hiking, biking, or off-road rollerblading there's no reason to stab anyone. Imagining two old guys battling it out in the woods over who has the right of way is a little funny, and a lot sad. It's not that hard to be nice.

Bellingham stabbing car park

Santa Cruz Syndicate

Minnaar recovering from COVID, Shaw suffers back injury.

It was a rough month for the Santa Cruz Syndicate. Greg Minnaar announced that he had contracted a mild case of COVID-19 earlier in March following a trip to Europe, and the lingering effects of the virus were still affecting his pre-season training. He said, "I'm now two weeks post-COVID and I thought I'd be back training which isn't the case."

Minnaar's teammate, Luca Shaw, also had a rough month, after a huge crash left him with a fracture on a facet joint in his lower spine. Luckily it sounds like the injury is stable and won't require surgery – Luca was hoping to be back on the bike relatively quickly.

The Fort Wlliam World Cup round was recently cancelled, which means that the first round of the World Cup won't be until June 12th. Hopefully that will give Greg and Luca time to heal up and start the season at 100%.

Bike Prices
Don't Expect a Discount Any Time Soon

March brought multiple announcements about increasing bike prices. Rose Bikes and Santa Cruz both issued statements explaining that prices would be rising by around 10%. Earlier in the year Commencal, Propain, and Nukeproof announced price increases, and it's fair to say that most bike companies will be following suit.

If mountain biking is suddenly so popular, why are the prices going up? Shipping costs are one of the main reasons – freight prices are at an all time high, and events like the Ever Given ship getting stuck in the Suez canal aren't helping things. Component costs have also gone up, which raises the price of a complete bike, and the growing strength of the Taiwan dollars is yet another reason that companies have had to increase prices, even with the strong demand.


  • 66 1
 “...a strange incident on a trail in Bellingham...” Not surprising considering Bellingham is way high up on the strange-o-meter to begin with.
  • 22 0
 Can confirm
  • 7 0
 Always ride with a machete in case of a knife fight.
  • 3 0
 @Geochemistry: Only if you pull it out and say “That’s not a knife” like Crocodile Dundee:
  • 6 0
 @Geochemistry: Ill be riding with my 18 inch naval gun. That way ill never be out gunned unless someone has a 19 incher.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: That's not a knife, that's a spoon
  • 46 0
 I don't know if this planet is over populated but we've definitely got more than our fair share of wan*ers.
  • 9 0
 Never have truer words been spoken.
  • 5 0
 How does one measure what the proper share of wankers is? Personally I’m afraid we have exactly the number we deserve, or maybe even too few.
  • 30 3
 Even more reason to bring bike manufacturing back to america.
  • 20 7
 So we can have even higher prices?
  • 4 0
 @onemind123: do you really like waiting 8 mouths for your bike to show up?
  • 39 1
 @the-patrick: Idk how big are the mouths?
  • 6 1
 @NorCalNomad: Haha my bad months*
  • 9 1
 I don't foresee many Americans willing to work 16 odd hours a day laying-up and baking carbon frames for minimal compensation.
  • 10 0
 @Dopepedaler: Guerilla Gravity! Also, at $3200 a frame and shock for most carbon bikes today, I bet we could build a bike here and be profitable.
  • 4 0
 @healthcare1: Build it here? Yes. At scale and profitable? Debatable. Good, fast, cheap...pick two.
  • 10 0
 Of course, the trick is to manufacture a quality product at an affordable price while paying a living wage and being environmentally sustainable.
  • 5 0
 @Burningbird: The majority of people have no idea what affordable means with those two things being taken into account.
  • 2 0
 @NorCalNomad: 100% it would require a paradigm shift
  • 20 0
 Getting stabbed in the fray sounds painful!
  • 1 0
 Best laugh I had all day!
  • 9 1
 Not being an engineer or designer, can someone explain the cost premium on wireless drivetrains? Micro transmitters, batteries and chargers seem to be available off the shelf at low cost in volume. Is the actuator proprietary and super complex?
  • 8 1
 i mean, getting a mechanical thing to shift properly is already tough and expensive. now get rid of the wire, make it wireless, reliable, durable, precise, and better than cable. ofc that have to make new motors and batteries and whatnot so its really expensive
  • 9 0
 I would imagine economy of scale is one of the bigger factors. The amount of wired GX drivetrains sram produces has got to be what, 1000x the number of wireless? That's gonna largely affect the MSRP.
  • 13 0
 It's almost like the main cost of electronics isn't the physical components but the manpower that goes into R&D and marketing. I'm just spitballing here.
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: that would be my guess, engineering a new solution to secure patents vs using available tech that could be undercut by low cost competitors.

One would think wireless transmitters are pretty cheap off the shelf. Battery and charger quite possibly catalogue items too.

The shifter control is fundamentally two buttons, basic circuit, connectivity to mobile and a waterproof housing, all of which can be found in common, cheap IoT devices.
  • 5 0
 It's pretty standard. First soak the early adopters for $2k. Then shave off a few bucks and reel in the dentists. Finally, change nothing but the cosmetics for your mid-tier (GX) model and charge a price that only looks reasonable by comparison to the extreme pricing of the original. I'm sure the initial development was expensive, but they're also not altruists just waiting to recoup that cost so that they can give us a good deal. They will charge as much as they can for as long as they can. At this point, air freight is probably as expensive as the shifter.
  • 9 0
 AS I understand it, SRAM also developed their own wireless protocol AIREA. It is a wireless system using 128-bit encryption with rotating encryption codes that transmits and receives data. So they developed something similar to Bluetooth and ANT+ for their wireless shifting. That probably cost a lot of R and D.
  • 6 0
 @Spencermon: it would be a riot if it wasn’t encrypted, start dropping someone’s dropper post XD
  • 4 0
 Supply Demand
And there are zero competitors. Sram would have to be insane (as any business would) to price based on the cost of producing the product. You always price based on what you think the market will bear. If Sram thinks people will pay 600 they will charge that regardless of the cost unless the cost of production is too high and then Sram will simply not make the product.
  • 1 6
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Apr 2, 2021 at 11:01) (Below Threshold)
 The premium cost is insulting when you consider the rear derailleur is just one stick or rock away from instantaneous destruction, just like with the cheap cable options. I'll wait for the wireless gearbox option.
  • 3 1
 @DizzyNinja: why are people so obsessed with making other people miserable.
  • 11 0
 That's why books are such a rip off!!! I mean the words already exist and they're free! Billionaire writers just mix them up, call them books and deposit the cheques. It's a scam.
  • 2 1
 @timotheysski: technically due to it being SRAM it actually doesn't need to shift properly to give on par performance to its wired counter part.
  • 1 1
 @pourquois-pas: way back when di2 came out and a derailleur was $5k Shimano had to have proprietary servos. But when integrated was launched they were able to use an off the shelf servo. Something to do with the torque, weight and water resistance along with power draw. With ultegra at the time they were able to relax those requirements. Assume by now that’s all long gone. Just has to be a manufacturing and r&d cost, and endless marketing to quell market concerns.
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: give. it. a. rest. bro. Go ride your derailleurless bike or something.
  • 10 0
 It's been a good month for shoe manufacturers to charge 50-100% more than they were a couple of years ago
  • 28 0
 It was windy yesterday. Gotta raise prices.
  • 13 0
 @commental @noapathy I actually work in shoe manufacturing and shoes should be even more than they are now. There is a false economy for shoe prices (and a lot of other goods) currently and you're going to see a rise across the board in the next few years. It's not out of greed, you just can not get the same quality made for the prices people have been use to.

Don't forget that the amount you're being paid hasn't kept up with economic growth anyways Wink
  • 4 0
 @NorCalNomad: with how much money was created out of thin air in the US just last year, we're going to see some insane price increases. Lumber is up almost 300% from one year ago, along with most other commodities. That $1400 stimulus won't get you very far soon.
  • 2 2
 @NorCalNomad: Yeah, not buying it. Nice marketing spiel though. That's OK. I've got 3 pairs of shoes to rotate through that'll last at least a few more years till the bubble bursts/people wake up. They were about $150...for all 3. Yes, bought brand new. Smile
  • 3 2
 @noapathy: While I can't disclose our pricing structures and I know how it also works at Nike, Adidas, 5.10 (pre adidas), etc. I can't imagine how your crystal ball into product sourcing, labor, and raw material can give you better insight than professional experience. But continue to think that you're in a "bubble" right now and shoes are going to magically get cheaper. Rolleyes
  • 2 2
 @NorCalNomad: It's not me that's in a bubble, but the economy. Just like in 2008, we're overdue for a correction and when that happens it ain't gonna be pretty.
  • 2 2
 @noapathy: Yeah bud, show me where shoe prices got cheaper from the 2008 depression.
  • 2 6
flag noapathy (Apr 2, 2021 at 21:38) (Below Threshold)
 @NorCalNomad: Real cute there, pal. I don't have to show you $hit. I'll just say this and then leave you to your fabrications. If ever there was a reason NOT to trust someone, it's a self-proclaimed corporate "expert". Between you, the stock brokers and the lawyers, it's no wonder the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
  • 3 2
 @NorCalNomad: Pinkbike, where one persons imagination is equal or greater than another persons expertise.
  • 1 4
 @RonSauce: The internet. Where someone's an expert because they say they are. Wink
  • 2 1
 @noapathy: You're arguing a point and you don't want to show evidence. Man that 45th in education of KY is really showing.
  • 1 1
 @NorCalNomad: You know what they say about assumptions. Just moved here 6 months ago. Grow up.
  • 5 0
 I joined the herd and bought everything for a new build this season, first time I’ve paid full retail for parts...ever.
  • 5 0
 Definitely a rough year for that
  • 2 0
 A lot of new shoes. That makes alot of sense, as you may want to walk while waiting for new bike. And you may go through several pairs of shoes until then.
  • 2 1
 I bought one new motorcycle and 2 slightly used motorcycles for the price of one Specialized S Works E mountain bike. In which in 5 years I would have to replace the battery. Hmmm
  • 3 0
 Fort william being cancelled isn't bad enough to make the list?
  • 5 0
 I think that was April 1st news and I believe this counts as their March roundup.
  • 5 3
 @Brayden-234 That doesn't matter.
  • 1 0
 Vala baš Smile
  • 2 0
 All them hideous shoes can go in de Bad list.-
  • 1 0
 The Ride Concepts Vice Mid is a sick looking shoe to me!
  • 7 8
 Bikes are already EXPENSIVE!!! to start with and bike prices will still go up. MTB is becoming more of a financial status sport, It's like driving a Ferrari(not Fezzari) than a Honda.
  • 17 1
 Your comment could be from any bike story ever published. People would mail pieces of paper with this comment on it to magazines. It's always been a financial status sport. While the top of the marked keeps going up in price, the stuff at the bottom keeps getting better and better. A $1300 Commensal Meta HT would destroy anything sold by any bike maker in 2001. Anything.
  • 3 1
 @Genewich: amen brother, when I think of the expensive death traps I first rode compared to entry level rides now..
  • 5 0
 @meandmybike48 Bike's have been following inflation and greater economic forces where most people's pay has not. This is like the blue collar working blaming the new guy instead of their boss for how little they get paid Wink We are in another gilded age.
  • 3 0
 MTB isn't a financial status sport, having the nicest newest things is, and I for one don't really care that I can't afford the NICEST NEWEST bikes and parts, I have a ton of fun on the bikes I already have.
  • 1 0
 Don’t expect a discount anytime soon? Works for me, I won’t buy a bike anytime soon.
  • 1 0
 Mihelich. Say it with me now. MA-HAY-LICH. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
  • 1 2
 "Never bring a bike to a knife fight." ..... Is pinkbike suggesting that we need to arm ourselves on the trails? (joking of course)
  • 5 0
 No, but to wear armor!
  • 1 1
 The hiker and the biker story is awesome, y would u wait u til later to report it go to A&E??
  • 1 0
 So the bike industry can get lots of shoe parts, but no bike parts.
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