Yesterday marked the long-awaited release of a new product that’s been hyped ever since Interbike back in October. As a reviewer, I’d been itching to get my hands on it and try it out. Well, I finally received it, and was able to install it and take it for a ride yesterday. Since it was a holiday and the weather was unseasonably warm I managed to get out and spend a few hours on it, and I’m pleased to share with you my first impressions.
Admittedly, when I first received 2008, I was skeptical. I mean, my 2007 was working just fine, with only minimal signs of wear. Chances are I could have gotten at least another 10 years out of it. Furthermore, at first glance, 2008 seems nearly identical to the old model, and when I first took it out of the box I found myself asking, "Is this just the same old chain lube in a different bottle?"
Well, now that I've taken 2008 for a test ride, I can emphatically say that this is not the case. Engineers have carried over the best features of 2007--the seamless seasonal transitions, the seven-day weeks, the predictable day/night transitions--while at the same time refining the overall design even further in order to maximize performance. How did they do so? Let’s take a look.
The first thing riders will notice about 2008 is the extra day. That's right--2008 is a full 24 hours longer than 2007. By figuring out how to place an extra day between the end of February and the beginning of March, 2008’s engineers have in effect created more ride time for you. And more ride time means you’ll have more miles in your legs, which will give you a crucial edge over your competitors come the start of the season. This extra day has been branded “leap year” technology, and while this may cause confusion in the marketplace with SRAM’s “Will you make the leap?” campaign, the performance benefits are obvious.
Another refinement is in the weekends and holidays department. Designed to absorb shock and smooth out your ride, this is a feature that has been copied by many other manufacturers, most notably Specialized with their Zerts inserts. 2008 retains all the 52 weekends of last year’s model, thereby preserving that “stiff yet compliant” feel 2007 was famous for, with the additional benefit of a July 4th that falls on a Friday. On the 2007 model, July 4th fell on a Wednesday, which meant that many riders had to return to work the very next day, without the benefit of either a recovery ride and/or hangover-nursing day.
Okay, so what about the drawbacks? Well, the first bit of bad news is that your 2007 calendar will not be compatible with 2008—unless you’ve got a couple hours to kill with a Sharpie. However, the component aftermarket has already embraced 2008, and a huge variety is already available, including cute puppy, Miss Nude Australia, and shirtless Mormon men. Secondly, that much-touted extra day is a Friday, which means it might be difficult to ride if you’ve got work duties. Finally, 2008 lacks a trimming feature. Frankly, if your 2008 is adjusted properly you won't need it, but even so engineers plan to remedy this by releasing a more expensive "Red" version later in the year.
In all, engineers have truly managed to preserve the qualities that made 2007 so great while at the same time fine-tuning the ride with welcome improvements. Say what you will, 2008 is light-years ahead of its competitors, such as the Hebrew calendar’s tired 5768, the Buddhist calendar’s ponderous 2552, and China’s kludgy Year of the Rat. Of course, I say this every year, but the fact is that 2008 may be the last year you'll ever buy.
The Bottom Line
Buy It If: You loved 2007 and want something longer.
Don’t Buy It If: You’re a retrogrouch who writes the wrong year on your checks.