The "New Standard" | Santa Cruz

Joe Graney
Each time we work on a bike design - and we're always working on new bikes- the engineering group and our product manager sit down to haggle about what the frame is going to be like, and what type of parts it will accept. This used to be a fairly simple process - it basically consisted of deciding 68 or 73 mm width on bottom bracket width. We try to make a lot of components interchangeable between our various models. If there's not a damn good reason to have different diameter seat-posts or front derailleur clamps, then those numbers remain the same. Recently, however, we've seen a proliferation of new "standards" representing conceptual minefields that must be crossed when designing a bike frame. An incomplete list would include (stick with me through the list, there's a point somewhere near the end):
Headsets: 1 1/8, 1.5, 1 1/8 to 1.5 tapered. And then you have integrated and semi-integrated options for each of those. Stems and forks are both subject to these dimensions, and each one can affect clearance between the fork crown to down-tube as well as influence bar height and frame geometry. To figure out what makes sense for what, we have to balance stiffness versus weight of the entire system, including the frame, headset, adaptors, stem AND fork. I've been told that the purpose of the tapered steerer "standard" (Sram and Fox have different taper lengths...) is to make it easier to find stems. WTF? So they're basically saying there is a new standard (1.5) that hasn't yet been adopted fully, so we're introducing another standard to address it, even though finding a headset or a fork will be more of a pain than finding a 1.5 stem ever was.