Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ballsiest Move of the Year

In the vaporwear annals few innovations have generated more interest than new component groups. Claims on the part of component manufacturers that they have produced a road component group have fallen shy in each and every instance for the last 10 years except for SRAM. The fact is, despite their bold claims, because FSA has yet to produce an integrated control lever that works with a rear derailleur and cassette of their own making—no matter whose spacing is used—they have no group.

Sampson Sports has a history of marching boldly into OEM supply situations that put it directly opposite Shimano. These are supplier relationships that Campagnolo has run from like the brain from the bully. Consistently outgunned, Sampson has returned from each bruising only more emboldened.

The company, which is little more than Eric Sampson and his suppliers, has roared back with the bold confidence of a presidential candidate. Sampson is introducing two, count ‘em—two—complete component groups, Stratics (meant to go up against Dura-Ace) and Showtime (a more affordable option).

We saw early preproduction samples at Interbike. It looked promising, but this is the moment we’ve been waiting for—actual production samples. The stuff is lightweight and well-produced.
The levers have two paddles. For the rear, the upper paddle, which can be reached from the drops or the hoods, conducts upshifts. The larger, lower paddle executes downshifts. The detents are firm and shift feel is secure.

How he will manage to secure OEM contracts to get the group on bikes remains to be seen, but the represents a viable alternative to Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.

As soon as a full production group we can ride is available we will review the group in depth.


Watts said...

I played around with the Sampson items at the booth at the NAHMBS a couple weeks ago. Surprisingly good ideas (from an old school Campy guy). Whether they'll get adequate visibility (read advertising budget) to make a mark against SRAM and FSA remains to be seen. I'd hit it.

erik k said...

it kind of looks like if Shimano and Campy got drunk one night and had a bastard child, named Sampson Sports. Don't get me wrong I applaud efforts to bring new innovation's into the world of cycling components, but that group looks allot like a blend of the two. The shifter/brakes have the campy style carbon levers, but also feature the (in my opinion) grotesquely large hoods reminiscent of sham no dura ace. They also just baiscly took the campy thumb lever and shimanoized it by putting it under the hoods, plus i find the placement of the startactic logo akward. The rear derailleur looks like a combination of record & carbon sport's rear derailleur where as the front us a straightup Dura Ace look alike. But that is just my opinon, I stick to campy. SRAM is cool, too but I hate the idea of double tap shifting (I like to DUMP my caset on occasion, if you know what i mean) so I guess the improved over that, and when It comes down to it I would probably choose it over Dura Ace, but thats not saying much

Anonymous said...

Its too bad that SRAM busted out on the component scene before these guys. It might be very hard to convince cyclists to consider a 4th option - much of SRAM's marketing is around convincing us to consider a third!

Anonymous said...

you too can brand a component group!

Anonymous said...

This is good news for consumers -- more players in the industry fuels pressure to make better products and keep prices down. But "Showtime"? I understand the attraction of alliteration, but you'd think they could come up with a sexier name.

I'll take a crack:


You know, words with cajones. With their top-end components carrying the vaguely galactic name of "Stratics", perhaps a space theme would lend some consistency and a cutting-edge feel to the family of component groups.

But this is just a quibble. Regardless of their names, I hope these products hit the shelves soon.


Little_Jewford said...

Interesting, sampson and driven:


likely came out of the same "microshift" factory. I wonder who drove the development of the components? The supplier or a combination of Sampson and Sunrace?

Any insights?

Ron George said...

Those dérailleurs look like they're outfitted with TISO pulleys?

Anonymous said...

I have a pair of the Stratics carbon brakes. They look cool, but if you (like me) weight more than 170 lbs. the stopping power leaves something to be desired. In fact, I really haven't ridden anything weaker in that department, but I'm too lazy to switch them back out.

Padraig said...

The Stratics carbon brakes have gone away. I tested them when they first came out and was also dismayed by their inability to do anything more than modulate speed. The new brakes are alloy and offer real stopping.

Development of the group has been funded by a few sources; I don't think I know all of them and am not at liberty to reveal those who I do know were involved.