Beggars Would Ride

Battery Flattery

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For most of 2021, I coveted a RockShox Reverb AXS seatpost. I’d had the opportunity to briefly ride them on test bikes a couple times, and I had loved the way they worked. However, to be totally honest, it was the appeal of a dropper post that I could remove from one bike and install in another (or remove and service, or remove and replace, because, well, dropper post…) that really pegged the covet-o-meter. No cable to fish through a frame, no hydraulic hose to bleed and bleed again, no need to find that old Alfredo Binda toestrap and lash the damn post to the bike while performing said ritual bleed. Less clutter. Swoon…

This magpie-hunger for a battery actuated dropper post first manifested as I was building up a new steel hardtail, and the desire for this quasi-futuristic piece of kit seemed incongruous when set against the throwback nature of the bike I was building. But then again, it had disc brakes, 12 gears, boost spacing, so it wasn’t like I was scouring the internet trying to find a Reverb AXS in 27.2 in order to fit between an old Trek 970 and a Brooks saddle. As it was, the kinked hose of the global supply chain put my seatpost-lust in check. But instead of fading quietly from my fever dreams, the desire to be rid of cables only grew stronger.


This does not look like something one would spend an entire summer coveting. But I coveted, yes I did...

I mean, if I was going to slap an AXS post on the bike, maybe I should pony up for that new AXS GX conversion kit as well, and ditch the derailleur cable while we’re at it. The Falconer hardtail has external routing with full housing for the rear shifting, and is about as dead simple and quietly dependable a cable actuated setup as anyone could hope for. But once my mind began envisioning a bike without ANY cables at all, the sight of that black cable housing and those tiny discreet zip ties holding it in place became an affront that I could not look away from, and the urge to go cable-free began to scratch my aesthetic sensibilities. Like a splinter in the part of your finger that touches the screen of your phone, my cables morphed from an accepted and well-regarded part of my bike to a visual offence. I began wondering with some impatience just how long it would be until we had battery operated hydraulics for our brakes as well, just to really tie the room together.

Once again, as with the seatpost, the global supply chain cooled my jets, and I reluctantly slung cables and housing, routed hoses, bled a used Reverb ONE MORE TIME, and rode begrudgingly through the summer.

And damnit, I felt like I was missing out on something. The seed had been planted, and had germinated into a twisted, deeply rooted, dark little shrub of misplaced desire. My bike, that I had waited long and patiently for, now felt unfinished. Inadequate. Flawed. Because I wanted a battery powered shifter and seatpost.


I mean, just look at it. Swoon...

So, flash forward to this past November, when I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks aboard a new bike with an electric motor to help go uphill as well as a fancy electric dropper post AND a fancy battery operated wireless rear shifter. There were also a couple fancy little battery powered tire pressure sensors. This bike did not, however, have the latest in fancy battery powered suspension mega-awesome connectivity.

On two occasions I forgot to charge the bike overnight before riding and found myself slowly grinding a dead ebike home. That’s a special kind of hell. I forgot to charge the seatpost battery with a consistency that was only rivaled by how often I forgot to charge the derailleur battery. Which is to say that I totally failed to charge either of them until they reminded me by ceasing to function altogether. This happened several times, a fact that I am a little ashamed to admit, since most sentient beings should learn that lesson the first time. The tire pressure monitors didn’t give me any problems, but I also repeatedly stuck a manual pressure gauge onto the valve stems because I was either too lazy or too stupid to remember there was an app that would just tell me what my tire pressure was, which I had neglected to download anyway. And, to be fair, my phone ran out of juice plenty of times during this same cycle of product nerdery. So the app wouldn’t have done much good if I had needed to dive into my tire pressure analytics.

I had gone from riding bikes without ever once considering battery life (those of you who ride at night, I salute you. And I salute your battery tending diligence), to now having a family of seven batteries to feed. Admittedly, only three of those batteries needed frequent feeding, but still, like a boy off to college for the first time, this relatively low-level domestic accountability was totally beyond my ability to sustain. I was an abject failure at battery husbandry.


You can probably surmise where this is going...

In due course, the gods of shiny new things requested the return their chariot of the future, and I did so with a palpable sense of relief.

We are living in what is being described as “the internet of things,” a wondrous time where our refrigerators can talk to Alexa and order that extra sharp Vermont cheddar that we love so much without us even having to realize we are running out of the stuff. Where Siri can cue up a playlist that matches our mood. Where our cars know their way home. Where our phones listen to us and serve us ads based on what they algorithmically perceive to be our material desires. One click shopping! “It’s just what I need!”

And I have to admit, my aesthetic desire to have a bike without the visual clutter of cables and hoses ran smack into the brick wall of my own luddite ways. I don’t really want a bike that helps me up the hill. Not yet, anyway. I have a tough enough time remembering to wipe the crud of my fork stanchions as it is, let alone remembering to make sure that the batteries for my active suspension are charged. Accepting full suspension into my life was an arduous and hard fought battle. The decade and a half I spent struggling with those demons is curiously analogous to the amount of time it took for full suspension designs to reach maturity and stop absolutely sucking from a maintenance and longevity standpoint, so there may be an indicator in there that speaks more to my own tendency to neglect things.

So, yeah, the last thing I need in my cycling life is a battery. Or five. Or seven. Or ten.

I absolutely know those words will come back to bite me in the ass. That’s okay. I also know that I am not a very good poster child for modern consumerism. I am reluctant to embrace new things, whether they be pieces of technology or geometry trends. I am superstitious about my shoes and cleats. I fear high pivot idler wheels. It took me decades to trust index shifting. I have trouble wearing polyester, for crying out loud. And I do not want my refrigerator to order groceries. Ever.


"And this, Bobby, is the place where the singularity happens. Don't make your new refrigerator god angry, or you won't get any ice cream again. Ever."

The hypocrisy is obvious. I love dropper posts. I love full suspension, even though I will never, in however many orbits of the sun this skinbag I am inhabiting has left, need more than about 140mm of the stuff. I love hydraulic disc brakes. I love gears! All of these have been things I’ve bristled against at some point in the past. Well, all except dropper posts.

After returning the Bike Of The Future, I settled back into some rides aboard the yellow steel Falconer. Going uphill hurt again, in a familiar and lovable way. The gears responded to the pull of the cable just as they had a month earlier, the seatpost went up and down like it usually did, even with that telltale “this will only get worse” few millimeters of sponginess at the top. The sight of the brake hose and rear shift cable slinking shiny and black along the top tube didn’t seem so bad anymore. I whispered a quiet apology as we rode, happily out of step with time. Then I made a mental note to buy some zip ties and then check on how my investment in lithium futures was doing, as I nudged a shifter that tugged a wire that moved a derailleur that shifted a gear…

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+26 kcy4130 Andrew Major nothingfuture Cr4w Mike Ferrentino Joseph Crabtree imnotdanny taprider Mammal Karl Fitzpatrick Carlos Matutes icullis Todd Hellinga 4Runner1 Martin Velocipedestrian mrbrett trumpstinyhands Andy Eunson PowellRiviera fartymarty Geof Harries Spencer Nelson Timer DadStillRides Cam McRae

And just wait until some teenager in a basement somewhere ransomwares your mountain bike so you have to learn what Bitcoin is and how to send it to them in another country before they'll unlock your bike so you can go for a ride. Then they do it all over again next week. ;-)

It's always funny to flip the script. Imagine we only ever had wireless shifting/droppers/brakes, e-bike motors and someone was trying to sell us non-motorized cable/hydro activated products. 

  • Costs 60%-80% less!
  • No batteries to charge!
  • No batteries to lose on the trail!
  • Better for the environment!
  • Lighter!
  • Can't be hacked!
  • More exercise!
  • Never catches fire and doesn't burn down your house!
  • Shows the world you can actually still do something under Meat Power without the help of an electric motor!
  • Doesn't make annoying blender noises without actually serving you a margarita!
  • Will still work in 10 years without any electronics to go obsolete.
  • Tow your friend home when they run out of battery power!

People would be so excited to buy these new and improved Meat Mountain Machines!


+19 Cooper Quinn Mike Ferrentino Vik Banerjee imnotdanny Morgan Heater Mammal Karl Fitzpatrick Carlos Matutes Todd Hellinga 4Runner1 Martin Velocipedestrian Andrew Major mrbrett DanL Andy Eunson PowellRiviera DadStillRides Cam McRae

As if there's no one here pitching rigid singlespeeds with 4000g plus wheels while wearing a full face helmet. ooooh that's the joke. whoosh.


+8 Vik Banerjee Mammal Karl Fitzpatrick Carlos Matutes Martin Andrew Major mrbrett Cam McRae



+7 Vik Banerjee Mammal Carlos Matutes 4Runner1 Martin Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

much as i always prefer my margs on the rocks, the pavlovian blender noise without a slushy payoff may be the most damning aspect of them all...



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+11 Vik Banerjee Mike Ferrentino Carlos Matutes icullis Todd Hellinga 4Runner1 Martin Velocipedestrian Timer utopic Cam McRae

better for the environment, end of story...

95% of lithium ion batteries are not recycled and have no plan to be recycled

2.5million litres of water to mine 1 tonne of lithium, much of it in the atacama desert.......yes a desert

i can go on and on but y'all get the picture


+11 kcy4130 icullis Mammal Mike Ferrentino 4Runner1 Martin Velocipedestrian Mr.T Vik Banerjee Pete Roggeman Skooks

Thanks for this piece--it echoes a lot of feelings I've been sorting through lately in trying to figure out what kinds of 'new technology' I care about and what kinds I don't, and puzzling over why that is.

There's something deceptively honest about the bicycle. They look outwardly the same as they used to: wheels with spokes, tubular frames, bars and levers all kind of the same shape and in the same places. And yet under the hood, humans all over the globe have spent millions or even billions of hours refining the heck out of all those parts and how they're put together. There's something appealing and even romantic about the technical sophistication on the one hand and simplicity and maintainability and tradition on the other.

But there's something about electronics that doesn't feel right in that mix. I'm happy to geek out on new damper tech or air piston seal head design, but new apps and software just doesn't do it for me.


+3 Mike Ferrentino 4Runner1 Velocipedestrian

Right there with ya.


+3 PowellRiviera Mike Ferrentino Mammal

Lots of feels on this one. Right on amigo.


+10 4Runner1 Cr4w Dogl0rd Vik Banerjee Peter Leeds Andy Eunson Skooks kcy4130 NealWood taprider

I just don't get ebikes. For me, mountain biking is about being in the woods and enjoying going fast, quietly, on my own power. Being aware of the body-bike synergy to feel the terrain, feel how my fitness evolves and get some much-needed being in the present moment with only one thing to think about : how to get those wheels at some particular points in space and time. 

I spend hours per week to make sure that my mechanical item (bicycle) won't distract my riding experience with noises, setup issues or other things, and I enjoy the fact that I can do it all myself with manual tools (and most of it on the trail if needed). I understand why some people like ebikes and electric shifting, etc., but it's not for me. Outside of environmental, consumerism and social aspects of all of this, for me it's about keeping it mechanical-only and (relatively) simple. 

I just threw away my too-many-times-fixed electric coffee grinder for an as-expensive-but-much-better-quality mechanical hand grinder. No noise, more connection with the coffee beans and grind, and more reliability. I don't see myself going back to an electric grinder anytime soon. Pretty much like @Vik Banerjee said up in the discussion, I did the opposite way of technology and I am much happier!


+2 Martin Cr4w

I understand the utility of the ebike to people with mobility issues, for instance, for whom an escape into nature on a bike isn't otherwise feasible. But for myself in have the same feeling as you.

What did you settle on for a mechanical grinder? I have been following the same path and enjoy the feel of the beans, and how each batch is different.



Same for me, if someone has a disability or health problems, I see ebikes positively for them. That's the only reason for which I'd ever get one.

I bought a 1Zpresso Jx-Pro which seemed like their most cost/grind consistency efficient model and the best price-quality ratio in that price range (200-400$). The machining is top notch, you can unbuild it all without any tool and the grind adjustment is super precise. I'd buy the same one anytime if it broke or got stolen!



Nice, I've seen good reviews of that. I've been using a Comandante C40 and am very happy with it.


+1 Cam McRae

I too got rid of an often fixed electric grinder and got a Porlex Mini hand cranker.

The big plus is how much quieter it is.

Actually I go out of my way to get manual transmissions for cars too, and prefer hand tools to electric or gas tools in general


+6 Andrew Major YDiv Carmel Mike Ferrentino 4Runner1 Geof Harries

We should remember there are some incredibly frail people out there. I see people out on the road who can barely ride an ebike at walking pace. It really puts my own insecurities about fitness in perspective.


+9 Vik Banerjee Cr4w icullis 4Runner1 Martin Velocipedestrian Sandy James Oates Skooks eriksg

Holy smokes, I feel seen! Thanks Mike for so eloquently writing exactly how I feel.

At this point in the game, I just have no need or desire for electronics on my bike. I'm not saying this will always be the case, I just really, really appreciate mechanical systems, and I don't feel the need to explain why anymore - you either get it, or you don't.

I'm surrounded by so much electronic crap in every other aspect of my life, and a lot of that crap is really neat and sometimes useful. But riding bikes is where I draw my personal line. Don't get me wrong though - I love the latest and greatest tech when it comes to tires, suspension, brakes, exotic materials, etc. (although I will hold onto my 11spd drivetrain with my cold, dead hands).


+2 Mammal Cam McRae

Really intrigued by your point about mechanical systems. Gave it some thought and I'd actually agree.

For me, there's a level of satisfaction that can't be matched when you know your cable/housing is perfectly lubed (ie Slicko + SP41 housing). Especially on a dropper. Feels so good.


+7 kcy4130 Mike Ferrentino Mammal 4Runner1 Pete Roggeman Merwinn CPB

Hahahahaha (title image)


+1 Mike Ferrentino

Are they siblings?!?


+11 kcy4130 Sandy James Oates Cr4w Mike Ferrentino Mammal Carlos Matutes blackhat DancingWithMyself NealWood Cam McRae CPB

"I was an abject failure at battery husbandry".

This one is full of gold.


+7 kcy4130 Mammal Carlos Matutes mrbrett Dave Smith PowellRiviera CPB

there's a self-contained universe of powerful drama in that picture just waiting to be told...


+6 Mike Ferrentino Andrew Major PowellRiviera Pete Roggeman NealWood Cam McRae

I get it now! Having to charge batteries is like having to feed and nourish your step children, that came along with an impossible to turn down package.

and as those packages go, my personal line is, one... per bike.


+5 Cr4w Mike Ferrentino Martin Andy Eunson CPB

Although you still have to do the cable-fishing (or get 2 remotes and 2 cables and leave them in the frame), my BikeYoke Revive is really easy to swap from bike to bike. It takes about 10 minutes of moving the remotes around to get enough slack in the cables. When the swap's done, one push of the lever and revive cycle, and it's working great again.

I feel the same way about additional batteries. Living at 45 degrees North means every after-work ride from November to April is a night ride. And every commute in the morning, basically year-round. Keeping 2 light batteries charged sucks, I can't imagine 7.


+4 Mike Ferrentino Carlos Matutes icullis Merwinn

Strongly prefer no batteries, but if I had to have ONE it would be on the AXS Reverb for all the reasons stated.

And I've been at this so long, that if the battery died, I'd probably only notice it for a couple of minutes, and adjust accordingly.


+4 Mike Ferrentino 4Runner1 Martin Mammal

Great read.


+3 kcy4130 Mike Ferrentino Vik Banerjee

I agree with the article and so many of the posts...we need to decrease our environmental impact. Some good reading on batteries; I never know if my links work...fingers crossed!


+3 Mike Ferrentino 4Runner1 Pete Roggeman

This is gold! Laughed my way through the article because I KNOW this is what would happen to me with electronic shifting etc. Thank you.


+3 Mike Ferrentino Velocipedestrian Andrew Major

"And damnit, I felt like I was missing out on something"

"But instead of fading quietly from my fever dreams, the desire to be rid of cables only grew stronger"

I'm SO thankful that I'm not affected by this whatsoever (at least not when it comes to electronic bike components).


+2 Mike Ferrentino Cam McRae

I spend my days developing wireless connectivity chips but so far, don't feel the lure of adding such things to my bikes.  

There is an interesting startup in the semiconductor world with an ultra low power/energy harvesting BT 5.0 solution. They claim 10-100x typical battery life for BT 5.0 and in some applications, battery free operation via energy harvesting.  

I strongly suspect that a bike in the middle of nowhere isn't one of those battery free situations but if AXS or similar could get anywhere near 100x current battery life, I might change my mind.


+4 andyf Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman NealWood

Its not the wireless that eats battery, its the AXS RD motor. Takes a LOT of power to move your chain around under load. And this is why the AXS post battery lasts eons longer - all its gotta do is open/close a small solenoid valve. 

(and why, if your RD battery dies and you're running the post, you just swap batteries between the two, and keep riding.)


+2 Mike Ferrentino Cooper Quinn

Now is zee time on Sprockets ven vee dance!


+1 4Runner1

Would you like to touch my monkey?


+2 Timer Cam McRae

I am at this moment counting 4 separate chargers from 3 different camera companies on my desk so I'm largely good with the analog life when it comes to my bicycle. 

That being said, I sure do appreciate the Eb on some shoot days.


+2 Mike Ferrentino NealWood

Great article Mike! I am strongly in the 'no batteries on my bike' camp for most of the reasons listed above.

Also, are you aware that there are dropper posts available that don't require batteries OR bleeding?😉



seatposts that don't require bleeding?! wonders will never cease ;)


+2 taprider Mike Ferrentino

Maybe you are [or should be] a Luddite after all?  Join us, it's not the pejorative it's been made out to be.

; D

Harry Tuttle comes to mind...



Harry Tuttle is great

I have to watch Brazil now



Love this movie. And yes, overdue for a re-watch.


+1 Cam McRae

The only batteries I'm concerned with regarding any rides actually will never stop me from taking said ride. First is my cell phone which since I first began utilizing them in the mid-90's I have instinctively left it charging when I was situated anyplace so I generally good there. Second and newest are my wireless earbuds (EarFun Free, which BTW are waterproof, inexpensive, low profile and auto-default from stereo to mono if you only use one as I do) which again when I'm not using them are in their charger cradle and with a supposed 9+ hr battery life I never get close to burning up. Lastly, are my bar/helmet lights. My use of these is limited to maybe once a week or so on sub 2 hr rides and only if I can't scoot out work earlier enough to avoid the daylight savings darkness. That's really it and if all of those crapped out, I could still pedal around without issue. I'd miss hearing hardcore like Slant in my earhole, but whatever.

On a related note, one of the big ups for Speshy's latest electro wonder bikes is a very involved TCU that possesses a full color touch screen with a zillion options. On the contrary, the alloy versions of the Levo don't come with it instead using their older simple yet effective bar system and button control, but without any performance detriment. As I have zero desire to have basically an iPhone attached to my bars (with some of the bike computer offerings) I see no point to spending more for said TCU that I would likely leave on stealth mode.


+1 taprider

Battery charging would bother me not because I would forget, but because I have "range anxiety". I had a cross bike with DI2 and hydraulic disc brakes so I had no cable changing fuckery to deal with ever. That DI2 battery went forever on a charge but I couldn’t leave it not topped up for very long. I think I checked nearly every ride but that version didn’t tell me how much charge was left so I would charge it more often than I needed. But it didn’t shift that much better than any mechanical system I was running then. Plus the actuation buttons were poorly done especially with thicker gloves. We as riders need to ask ourselves what these bits of electronic trickery actually do for us. Like that stem I was talking about in Mr Major’s article the other day. 40% stiffer than absolutely rigid is kind of pointless isn’t it? If manufacturers gave us back external cable routing that didn’t have 14 corners and bends we wouldn’t need wireless shifting to fix that. One post for my small fleet of bikes? OK a person has $25,000 in three bikes and they happen to have the same seat post diameter and can’t afford a post for each bike? That’s not a real benefit. Especially when one could buy three Oneup posts for the price of one Reverb AXS. (I didn’t check prices so I could be off) I think that’s what’s called a specious argument. Sounds good but it’s bullshit.

Edit. You could get four Oneup posts for the price of one Reverb AXS.


+3 Andy Eunson DancingWithMyself taprider

One post for three bikes … if the seat angles are the same too. 

It’s definitely not a valid sales pitch.


+1 Cam McRae

THAT was an entertaining read! Thanks, Mike! Loved it!



Great article. The cost for wireless vs breaking is something I cannot wrap my head around surely even exvellent long time riders have a rock strike their derailure?? Replacemet + charging cost?? Are bikes not supposed to be environmentally friendly?



I'm just spit-balling here, but what if you could combine all of the batteries into one, and then had a way of getting juice to everything that needed it? Cables maybe? Just a thought.



Didn't read all the replies, but thought I'd give my alternate solution to your want for a swappable dropper - 9point8! Nuff said! I begrudgingly dropped the $425 US for one back in 2016 and it has worked perfectly for me until last year when the original dust seals finally gave out, I think because I switched to a different grease that didn't work with the compound. Other than releasing the outer screw clamp and adding some grease to the foam ring and seal, and the occasional travel reset (which takes all of 60 seconds) the post was trouble free, just need to get a complete rebuild kit to get it back up and running.
All this being said to say give one a try, the ability to setup cables on several bikes to swap one post between them is super simple and easy, takes less than 10 minutes. Also, having the choice of either a regular or setback head and independent adjustment of tilt and for/aft is amazing.

I don't want anything electronic on my bikes, well except the old basic Cateye computer to keep a rough track of mileage and time. As to "ugly" cables, take the opportunity to use them to your advantage and colour coordinate them to the colour scheme of your bike.


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