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Marching into March: Shimano Di2 update and other fun facts

- Looking for some help here. There’s a word out there -- maybe it needs to be invented -- What’s the word for dressing for today’s training ride based on the forecast for today from 2 days ago? On Saturday I tried to re-enact ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘Alive’ or some other tale involving loss of sanity & digits to frostbite because I dressed for mid-50′s temps…despite the fact it was 38 and raining at the beginning of the ride. There must be a word for fixation on 2-day old forecasts.

- Party like a rock star.

- Great 20 minute highlight video of Het Volk, or whatever the heck they’re trying to call the race now. (It’s still Candlestick Park to me dammit.) It’s worth watching the whole thing, but if you’re strapped for time then fast forward to 17:00 to get the last 2km. The camera work isn’t the best, but you’ve gotta see the finale.

- Our good pal Craig Lewis of Team Columbia is blogging again. His first race of the year was Classica Almeria where he and his teammates nicely set up Greg Henderson for the win. He emailed us and told us it was 4,000kj’s in 4 hours. Sweet! Nice way to start the year.

- And the best photographer in the Euro peloton is

- We finally have updated info on Shimano Di2, aka electronic Dura Ace. For starters, we’re expecting to have it here on/around March 18th. Word on the street is that it’s been in stock for awhile in the Irvine, CA offices of Shimano America, but they’ve been wringing their hands over pricing. Now that pricing is finalized, it’s shipping out. Some details for your consideration:

Think of Di2 as having three main components: Shift levers, rear derailleur, and front derailleur. Outside of these, you’ll use the other 5 components from 7900 (brakes, chain, cassette, bottom bracket, and crankset.) The Di2 STI levers have a retail price of $930. The Di2 rear derailleur has a price of $900. The Di2 front derailleur has a cost of $800. But wait, there’s more…

The STI levers come sans cables. It’s just the 2 levers. When it comes to cables, we’ll actually sell them with the derailleurs. So you’ll pay $900 for the rear derailleur, and then on top of that you’ll need to spend $280 for what’s known as the ‘rear wire kit’, i.e. the electronic cabling that connects the right STI lever to the rear derailleur. There are 5 different versions of the rear wire kit, depending on the size of your bike and whether or not your bike has internal cable routing. In addition, this rear wire kit includes the Di2 battery cradle. So you’ll also need to budget for the battery ($100), and don’t forget the associated battery charger ($120) and charger power cable ($8). And then in terms of the front derailleur, you’ll need to buy a ‘front wire kit’ which is specific to either a road bike or a TT bike. And then you need to choose between a Flight Deck compatible version or a non-Flight Deck version. The latter is $170, and the former hasn’t been priced yet, which leads us to believe that we won’t see the new Flight Deck computer anytime soon.

So, in summary, if you’re interested in Di2, here is the real cost of the Di2 components: STI Levers, $900. Rear derailleur with a rear wire kit and all battery-related costs, $1,408. And front derailleur and front wire kit, $980. This totals $3,288. The add the costs of the needed non-Di2 components, $1,555, and you’re looking at a bottom line group cost of $4,843.

One other thing to keep in mind: There’s a device called the ‘SM-EC79 System Checker/Programmer’ that sounds awfully important. Our guess is that you probably want to have one of these as well. If Di2 is the iPod, our guess is that this item is iTunes. We’re not sure if it’s just hardware or if it’s hardware + software. We’ll know soon, but as of this writing we just don’t know. What we do know is that it costs $357. So save your pennies for that too.

- Speaking of new stuff and pricing: We’re running a sale on Campy 11-speed for the month of March. It’s an additional 10% off on top of the price reduction that just took effect last month. Gotta give props to Campy: They’re doing what it takes to make business happen. And they’re reacting appropriately to the fact that the dollar is stronger against the Euro than it’s been in nearly 3 years. 1 EUR = 1.256 USD right now. And word on the street is that the full-blown deleveraging currently annihilating the US finance industry hasn’t yet hit the European finance community, but that it’s imminent.

Based on what we’ve read, $400 billion in Central European consumer and corporate debt is due in 2009. If Central Europe follows the global trend and does an en masse default on its mortgages and lines of credit it’ll clobber the Euro with unprecedented violence (since nearly all of this debt is denominated in Euros.) This means a stronger dollar, which should result in price reductions of European goods. We’ve been preaching it since October, and we’ll say it again: Between a reduction in demand and an increase in the strength of the dollar, we should see a significant reduction in prices from all brands, not just Campy. The brands that don’t do so are proving that they’re stubborn, stupid, or flat-out greedy.

- Exhibit n of the harsh impact of the macro-economic collapse and sports marketing. It seems like the ProTour has still been tiptoeing its way around this somehow. But stories like this make me think judgment day is coming.

- And it wouldn’t be late winter if we didn’t give a big chapeau to the folks who put on the NAHBS. Based on all accounts, the show survived its perilous escape from the solipsistic orbit of the Portland bike scene. 6,000 people in attendance on Friday? That’s stupendous. Huge congratulations. We hang with a crowd that might be best defined as bike racers 1st/cyclists-for-cycling’s sake 2nd, which means that the NAHBS is primarly an experience of aesthetic appreciation. If I bought a bike there, yeah it’d probably be just to look at it and not ride it. But, then again, I wouldn’t go to El Bulli after a 100 mile ride. We all have different appetites for different things at different times.