Choices, choices, choices

I came off my bike just before the weekend. A few cuts and bruises (just two – my left side and my right side); the bike came off lightly as well: a few more scratches, the rack cracked (swiftly replaced on Saturday morning), and the rear wheel skewer has been all but destroyed. The wheel skewer is the quick release mechanism that attaches the wheel to the bike frame. Time to go shopping. Those of you not familiar with bike-lore may be surprised at the variety available of such a simple piece of kit.

The choice comes down to

  • Halo Skewers, lightweight, colourful costing £8.09. These look great and are lighter and better looking than the skewers I currently have
  • Zefal Lock and Roll for £17.99. These come with an inbuilt ant-theft device: they can only be removed when the bike is upside down which is not a problem for maintenance or fixing punctures but means the wheels can not be taken off when the frame is chained to a post or bike stand. Over twice the price of the basic model but come with piece of mind.
  • Ritchely Skewer Set: £62.99. Black, stylish, concealed quick release mechanism, forged allow lever and a titanium skewer. Each skewer weighs 29g compared to 70g for the Halo skewers.

You know which set I want. Admittedly shaving 70g off the weight of my bike will make no difference at all. In fact, a cheaper way of saving the same amount of weight would be to skip my regular Friday-morning sausage sandwich. But the quick release lever is asymmetric to optimise chainstay clearance. And you just can’t have too much titanium on your bike.

This is the sort of dilemma we’re faced with every day as project managers and developers. The project manager in me will often choose the simplest and least costly method of implementing a requirement whereas the developer will go for the most elegant and technically perfect implementation. The middle ground is not always the right place often resulting in a hard to maintain compromise. To make the right decision you need to have a very good understanding of the project objectives, requirements and background to those requirements.  And to be able to communicate your rationale to the developers – before they buy the titanium. Better yet is that you empower the developers to  decide by ensuring that they have the necessary understanding of the objectives and know who to talk to for further clarification and that you trust them to go for the best option.

For the sake of completeness, I bought the anti-theft skewers. If I were racing rather than commuting the titanium skewers would have been ideal. The extra piece of mind the anti-theft skewers give me is worth the price premium – as a commuter my bike is often left unattended for hours. If I didn’t leave my bike outside the office then the Halo skewers would have provided the same benefits at much less cost.

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