There are plenty of people that don’t fancy the idea of electronic this, that and the other on their bikes. I understand. I was once one of them. In fact in some respects I still am. There are certain things that I’m still not convinced by. Antilocking brake systems, adaptive cruise control and keyless ignitions are amongst my pet hates. And that’s just me. Some still don’t like the idea of quickshifters, Bluetooth connectivity and different rider modes. And they are welcome to their opinions. I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind. But I have decided that, from now on, I’m going to be more open to the idea of change. More open to the idea of modern electronics. And this is why.
Most new tech, when it first comes out, needs a bit of refinement. Particularly electronic tech. Take fuel injection. When the first fuel injected bikes came out, they weren’t really any better than their carburetted equivalents. Nowadays the bike manufactures wouldn’t dream of putting carbs on any self-respecting superbike. And most of us are thankful for it. The point I’m trying to make is that, when you’re not sure about something, it pays to give it time. Early versions of most modern tech left a lot to be desired. They just need time to mature. So rather than bin the idea of a quickshifter off completely, because you tried one ten years ago and it was crap, give it another try.
Emperor’s new clothes
Because all they’re trying to do with all this modern tech is make bikes better. And safer. Even if it’s only bit by bit. But that’s surely a good thing. I mean, they’re already really good. In fact they were good 20 years ago, but now they’re even better. And in 20 years’ time they could be even more incredible than they are now. Unless Greta What’s-her-name has anything to do with it. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The fact is that on the whole, electronics do improve bikes, year on year.
And let’s be fair, nothing’s going to change any time soon as far as that goes. Even if the electronics on modern bike were all rubbish, they’re too fashionable. Everybody loved the emperor’s new suit, didn’t they? Or pretended to. And lots of people like the idea of electronic aids, and safety nets even if they don’t need them. So if the manufacturers can charge you a few extra quid for the sake of giving them to you, they will.
And one day, everything in our lives will be connected to each other, including our bikes. Whether we like it or not. So we might as well get used to it now. We might as well get used to living in the electronic age. Our bikes will be connected to our phones, our bank accounts and our brains. There’ll be no such thing as cash; instead we’ll just get charged each time our bike fuels itself up, or forgets to program a new speed limit into its autopilot motherboard.
I don’t want to fight it any more. Because I know it’s happening. I know we’re already living in the electronic age, but I don’t think we’ve seen the half of it yet. I think we’ll look back at the relatively analogue lives we lived at the turn of the 21st century and wonder how we managed. Some will rue the day the microchip was invented. Others will rejoice it. Which camp will you be in?