Category Archives: Bike Shopping

For Reals This Time: A New Bike

As we get older, our birthdays take on less and less meaning. There may be the occasional bump in excitement every 5 or 10 years, but gone are the sugar fests of our youth or the stronger substances fests of a few years later. We go out to dinner, maybe have a few friends over, take a day off from work if we can swing it.

I celebrated my 36th birthday a couple months ago. To me, 36 somehow felt more significant than 35. I think it was the fact that it was 18 years after my 18th birthday (when I was finally able to vote – Yay!) Earlier that week, I had arranged to meet the owner of the Raleigh in the afternoon of my birthday so I could check it out. I woke up that morning a little bit excited that I may get a “new” bike by the end of the day. I thought it would be fun to have an old steel 3-speed to cruise around town on while I researched what kind of road bike I would get. My plan was to take more test rides and maybe buy something in 2-4 months.

Spouse had other plans.

She surprised me with a gift certificate to the LBS saying that she didn’t think I should have to miss riding a new bike in the summer. I was gobsmacked. No more setting aside a little bit of money each month, no more test riding dozens of different bikes all over town. I could get a new road bike right away. I was speechless. Spouse is quite a woman. I’d list the many ways in which she is a wonderful woman, but that would be a little embarrassing. I’ll just say this: check out what she cooked for us recently:

I'm not going to even describe this dish because it would just make you cry.

Now it was time to pick a bike! Before the arrival of the gift certificate, I was starting to feel the pressure of the “paradox of choice.” Briefly, that’s what happens when there are so many choices available, a consumer just feels unsatisfied with all of them.  Spouse helped solve this problem for me by getting the gift certificate for Small LBS#1. This shop may only carry a few brands, but I knew that I’d be able to find something I liked out of what they carried or could order. Time for more test rides!

I knew that I wanted to check out what Surly had to offer, but the LBS only had one in stock (a Steamroller that they’d built with a 3-speed fixed hub. It’s a pretty sweet bike, but not what I’m looking for right now.) Small LBS #2 had a Long Haul Trucker in a reasonable size, but I also wanted to try out a Pacer and a Crosscheck. Luckily, there’s a Surly dealer in Boston. I emailed them to check their stock, then reserved a Zipcar for half a day. Turns out, what their computer was showing as “in stock” meant “in a box” for the Pacer in my size, but I was able to check out the Crosscheck, LHT and a too-big Pacer. I was also able to compare them to aluminum bikes that would be similar to what I could get through the LBS. I did feel a little bit guilty for trying out bikes and taking the staff’s time when I knew I was not going to buy a bike there. I relieved this guilt by buying a pair of gloves. After my bike sin was absolved; my smugness level went up from “occasional recylcer” to “uses composting worms.”

There were some things I liked about the Crosscheck, but it just felt a little cumbersome compared to the aluminum bikes. If I were buying a new grocery-getter, all-around commuting bike (or a tourer), I would seriously consider it. However, I was looking for a road bike, something fun for the weekend. I’m sure I could have fun on a Crosscheck, but it would basically replicate a niche that’s already filled by my Cannondale. Also, I don’t really like the lack of options on the Surly bikes. Most manufacturers these days offer one frame with 3 or 4 different component levels. This lets you find the frame that fits you, then decide on the component level you want. Surly just keeps it simple with one level of components for each of their complete bikes. If you want something different, you have to buy just a frame and pick out the components on your own – but that starts getting more expensive than buying a complete bike with the same components.

My other choices for a road bike were from Fuji and Jamis. I tried out an aluminum Fuji (ahem, at a different LBS). It had some aspects that I liked, but it felt like a bit of a grab-bag of parts, and I didn’t really like the look of it or the feel. It may seem silly to worry about the look of one’s bike, but if you don’t like how it looks, you are less likely to ride it. The most important part of my test ride at the big LBS is that I was able to directly compare it to a touring bike. I was reminded of my post “Put your weight on it.” That tourer was probably 10 pounds heavier than the Fuji Newest 1.0, but you could really feel the difference! When I started the search for a road bike, I was certain that I wanted something with rack mounts. The Fuji fit the bill on that front, but as I continued my search, that became less and less important. I didn’t want to mount a rack to my future road bike all the time, I just wanted the option to do it at some point.

On the Jamis side, I tried out a few of the steel bikes in my size. I found that I really liked the geometry of the bikes. They were fairly upright, but not completely “slack.” There was just one thing I didn’t like: the level of componentry. Although I’ve been happy with my Cannondale, I felt like I wanted another step “up” in components for my first road bike. The Jamis Satellite has pretty much the same components as my Cannondale (but in “road” version as opposed to the performance/hybrid version on the C’dale). The Satellite also has Sora shifters, and I don’t really like how those feel at all. The next step up from the Satellite is the Jamis Quest, but that seemed like a larger step than I wanted to take. The Quest certainly looks like a nice bike – the stand out features include an Ultegra rear D and some fancy-schmancy looking wheels. I was tempted by this bike, I knew that it wouldn’t leave me much money left over for the various accessories I would want to get. I wish that Jamis had something in between the Quest and the Satellite, but they don’t. So I went for the….

Jamis Ventura Race

You can go to the full spec sheet if you’re interested. Here are the highlights:

Aluminum frame, carbon fork, carbon seat stays.

Shimano 105 for the Front and Rear derailleurs, brake levers, and STI shifters

50/34T crankset, 11-25T cassette

Alex AKX 2.0 wheels 24/28 spokes with Vittorio Zaffiro 700 X 23 tires in RED.

That’s right, RED TIRES! This seems to be the feature that gets the most comments from my friends. The frame is silver and white, so the red tires and cables really pop out. Let’s check the photos.

Spouse enjoyed seeing me working on my new ride, so she took a few overhead shots.

The first thing to do was remove some superfluous parts.

ich don't think so!


remove ya!

yeah, right

warning: this is a quick release lever, learn how to use it.

that's a big pie plate!

Bikes in RI are required to be sold with certain reflectors. I think most states are like this, so the manufacturers always include them. Cyclists then promptly remove them and put on lights which are far more effective. That last picture features the dreaded “pie plate” aka the spoke protector. Just for fun, after I removed the parts, I dutifully weighed them to find that I’d saved myself 100 grams! Then I installed my Planetbike headlight bracket and a Cateye Strada double wireless cyclometer. I did not weigh these items prior to installation. Also, I always ride with a saddlebag containing a tube, patchkit, tire levers and a multi-tool. Plus, I have two water bottle cages plus a small frame pump. I think that pretty much eliminates me from the weight weenie category.

That reminds, me I’ve forgotten to make my italicized list of upgrades:

Cateye Strada Double Wireless

Tektro “interrupter” brake levers

Shimano A-520 SPD pedals

Topeak Medium Aero Wedge Pack

Planet Bike 2w headlight with superflash

Banjo Brothers Waterproof Saddle Trunk

Spongy Wonder Bike Saddle

Lenzyme HP Road Drive mini Pump

The Ventura came with a San Marco Ponza Power Saddle in red and white. It looks great, but it’s a total taint crusher. (I mean, it’s a fantastic saddle, just not for me, I can’t really handle the performance it delivers – anybody want to buy it?) As previously stated, I’m a big fan of the Spongy Wonder, but I thought I’d try out a few other traditional saddles to see if saddle technology had improved much. I tried the stock saddle for 20 miles before dropping it. Small LBS #1 has the WTB saddle “test ride” program. You can leave a deposit and try out one of about 10 different saddles. Don’t like it? Bring it back and try out another. I tried 2 different types on the Jamis and didn’t really like either one as much as I like the Spongy Wonder. So I ordered a new Spongy Wonder!

So that’s all the stuff. The question is, how does it ride? Well, I’ve never had more fun on a bike than on this one. It wasn’t too hard to get used to riding with drops, and they are great once you are out on the road. However, I have several miles of stop-and-go city riding before I can get to any sort of open road or bike path. This means I’m often up on the flat part of the handlebars. I don’t like the idea of trying to reach for the regular brake levers in an emergency stop situation, so I had the interrupter brake levers installed. It was just $30, and gives me much greater confidence while biking in the city. They are also good to have in just about any other riding situation. The only drawback (aside from weight, ha ha!) is that they make it almost impossible to attach most larger handlebar bags. Oh well, I still like them.

What else do I like about this bike? Damn near everything. I know I don’t have much of a base of comparison, but this bike has been fantastic. I couldn’t tell you the difference between laterally stiff and vertically compliant, but the ride has been plenty comfortable for the several 30 mile rides I’ve taken so far. I haven’t had the opportunity for any serious climbing yet, but I can definitely feel the ease of acceleration with the Jamis over my Cannondale. Really, I don’t have the vocabulary to give this bike a proper review. That would be like my dad reviewing the latest Luomo album. All my dad can say about that and all I can say about my bike is that both are dope.  Here’s some more pics:

oh how those red tires pop!

Maybe I should try to find a red cover for my spongy wonder. Although according to “the rules,” it should match my bar tape.

What you'll see when I'm about to pass you.

What you'll see when you are about to pass me... I mean, after I drop you.

The Cockpit. I don't usually have the headlight mounted, I just wanted to give you the full effect. The bell is necessary when riding on narrow bike paths with Sunday drivers going 6 MPH.

One more shot as it glints in the sunlight with the Beavertail Lighthouse in the background.

If you want to hear someone give it a more detailed review, Bicycling magazine gave it the full video review treatment for the 2009 model:

He's saying, "Yo, this bike is dope! All it needs are red tires and red cables and it will be off the hook!" Actually, the review is informative and rather subdued.

This review was an interesting look into the standards of a roadie. It’s a positive review, but you can tell he’s thinking, “it’s okay for an entry-level bike.” In fact, he makes an off-hand reference to it being a “heavy” bike at 20 pounds. Well, it is certainly light enough for me.

A few weeks after I bought the bike, I noticed a CBS Early show clip was linked on the front page of the Jamis website (yes, I’m still going to the Jamis website even after I bought the bike. That’s so I can look at my bike while I’m in my living room and it is down in the basement.)

They were looking at the ladies’ version, but you get the idea. I like that there’s a helmet hanging off the handlebars – almost like it’s a police bike.

So I’ve had the bike for about two months now and I’ve put about 350 miles on it. I haven’t done anything more than 40 miles in a day – I haven’t really had the opportunity. I’d hoped to pull off a century by the end of summer, but I don’t think that will happen until next spring. I should be able to swing another metric century at some point, we’ll see.

So that’s my bike. I love it. I’d keep going on and on, but I see that I am well north of 2000 words, so I’ll end with this thought: At the start of July, I only owned one bike, by the end of July, I owned three. Every morning, I get to think, “which bike shall I take to work today.” It’s like I’m a millionaire choosing between a variety of cars. Shall I take the utilitarian hatchback (the Cannondale – although what kind of millionaire would own a hatchback?) Perhaps I should roll in to work in the classic convertible (the ’68 Raleigh Sports). I don’t have to carry anything to work today, and I don’t have to stop for groceries on the way home, so maybe I’ll take the sports car (which in this scenario is, of course, the Jamis). Three bikes, together worth a little more than the price of the car I sold a year ago, but to me they are worth a million.


Pulling the Trigger

I know, it doesn’t have quite the flash of a full Alberto Contador “fingerbang.” But I immediately thought of the Spaniard when I saw the display hanger for these Specialized bike gloves. For those of you not in the know, Alberto Contador is a Spanish cyclist who won some sort of big multi-day race recently. This is his logo:

That's right, the man has a logo.

He uses this logo because he is often seen giving this salute to any photographer present:

If you look closely, you’ll note that on his hat, there is an image of a hand giving the same salute.

I bought the gloves above(s) first of all, because there is an issue with my old gloves. As you can see, they sport a nice retro-style (this style is known as “roman,” I believe.)

In addition to their stylez, these gloves also sport some nice gel padding. Bike gloves can always be sort of hit-or-miss. The gel might seem good in the store, but it could completely deteriorate on the road. These gloves held up quite well to my daily commute and occasional longer trip. The mesh backs did get a little stretched out, but that’s to be expected. What I did not expect was this:

Kinda hard to tell from this picture, but the gloves gave me an intense tan line. I had big dark ovals on the back of each hand where the gloves are open to the sun. You can kind of see the contrast with my watch tan line a little further up my wrist.

To explain the second reason I bought new gloves, I must first make a bicycle confession. I visited a bike shop and took several of their bikes on test rides when I had no intention of buying a bike there. The shop in question is in a neighboring city and it carries a brand that I could order from my LBS, but said LBS is too small to keep them in stock. So I called around and found a store that had them in my size. I set aside some time on a Saturday, reserved a Zipcar, and headed out. I did feel a little bad about it, wasting the employee’s time and all. So I bought a pair of gloves to assuage my guilt and get rid of my tan lines. I would have bought some other accessories, but they didn’t have anything else I needed right then.  It turns out that the bike in question was a little too much on the retro-grouchy end of the scale than what I want right now. The new gloves are pretty sweet though. By the end of the summer, I should have lilly white mitts, dark arms, and a hard line where my jersey sleeves end.

Other stuff I did as I wrapped up my bike-purchase decision:

Gearing chart for the Cannondale (current ride)

Gearing chart for choice #1

Gearing chart for choice #2

I even made one of these:

Frame Geometry Chart

The gear charts were a little silly. I just wanted to see how the gearing compared to what I’m used to. Basically, the high-end of the bike I chose is a little higher than my Cannondale, and the low end is not quite as low. Pretty much what I expected. The geometry chart was a little more interesting. What I learned from that is, all other things being equal – a longer head tube makes for a more upright, relaxed ride. I guess I could have probably read that somewhere, but it was interesting to try out the different bikes, then look at their numbers.

I was intent on studying the numbers because the bike I settled on was not in stock at my LBS, nor any LBS in a reasonable driving distance. Said LBS had a bike in stock with almost identical geometry numbers that I liked the feel of, so I went off of that. Why not just get that bike? Well, I kind of wanted a step up as far as components went. I’m still not ready to reveal what I bought. I want to ride it a little more before I give my full opinion.

Put your weight on it

My recent post regarding shopping for bikes elicited quite a few comments which pleased me to no end – thanks everyone for your tips and advice. I still have a long way to go and many more bikes to try out before buying my next bike.

A topic that often comes up when talking about bikes is weight. To paraphrase from the good book of Sheldon Brown: A 20 pound bike is not 33% lighter than a 30 pound bike. A 20 pound bike + 150 pound cyclist is 5% lighter than a 30 pound bike + 150 pound cyclist. Or something like that. I couldn’t find the quote right away and I’m feeling google-lazy [this is a new term I’m trying to popularize – it means “I could probably find the answer to this question in 10 seconds by using google, but it could take up to 10 minutes and I’m too lazy to do that right now.” An appropriate response to someone’s google-laziness is to hit them with a link from]  Let’s keep Sheldon’s wisdom in mind, as I relate today’s events.

It was a scorcher out there. Yesterday’s high was 94 and today wasn’t any better. However, I spent much of yesterday indoors, and I wanted to spend a little bit of time in the saddle today. Nothing too crazy, I just wanted to get out and ride a little to see how I could handle riding in the heat. We were a little low on some staple items that can best be purchased at Trader Joe’s. It’s about 11 miles away, so off I went with a shopping list and both panniers.

As I made my way through the hot-as-an-oven west side, I passed the White Electric Coffeeshop, where I noticed one of the bike mechanics from Small LBS #1*. I overheard him say to his companion, “man it’s too hot to ride a bike today.” That’s right, I’m more hardcore than a bike mechanic. DEAL WITH IT! He was right, but once I reached the Washington Secondary Bike Path it seemed almost 10 degrees cooler than the streets. I’ve complained about how the path is straight, flat and a little boring, with all potential views blocked by trees. Well, I wasn’t complaining about the tree cover today as I’m sure it was one of the main reasons for the cooler temperature. I’d given the bike a thorough cleaning yesterday (aside from firework-viewing, it was the only time I spent outside), so things were running very smoothly and I kept a decent pace despite the heat. With a little shade and a 15-18 mph breeze, 94 degrees didn’t seem so bad!

I reached TJ’s and loaded up on the usual goodies. Really loaded up. I even bought a big ol’ jug of maple syrup. I carefully arranged all of the goodies and headed back on the trail. I was much, much slower. I was working as hard as before, but I was in a lower gear than on the way there and my speedometer confirmed that I was significantly slower. I was still moving along and everything felt stable, but I was slow. It may not be fashionable to say it in some cycling circles, but I like to be fast.

Here’s everything I bought at TJ’s:

Trader Joe's Haul. Next thing you know, I'll be posting videos of stuff I buy just like a teenage girl.

Note the scale in the background – that’s right, I weighed everything. IN GRAMS.

Then I converted it to American – it was over 15 pounds! So, now I know – 15 pounds slows me down significantly. It wasn’t unpleasant to ride with 15 extra pounds (at least for 10 miles), but it was slower, and I can’t really imagine doing it on a 60 plus mile ride. As a side note, I really think I need to get a new rack. My panniers were starting to bend under the weight and they got dangerously close to my spokes on a few bumps. I tried to take a picture while I was rolling, but no luck, I only got this:

I guess I could have stopped and taken a picture, but then I would have lost my 12 mph breeze. I need to find a rack with a little more steel in the back to hold those panniers out.

So, now I know what 15 pounds of extra weight feels like. With that in mind, I headed to Big LBS #1 for a little bike shopping. I walked in and said that I wanted to talk about road bikes. The young man’s first question was, “How important to you is the ability to have a rack and fenders on your bike?” Me: “Pretty important, I also want to look at touring bikes.” So we talked about what I expect to do with the bike, etc. Unfortunately, there are very few road bikes these days that have eyelets for racks and/or fenders. In fact, in this large LBS that has (I’m guessing) well over 100 bikes on the floor, they only had 1 real “touring” bike, a Raleigh Sojourn. It was probably a size too large for me, but I took it for a short spin. It seems to be a pretty well-equipped bike with a decent level of components including disc brakes, Tiagra front, Deore rear, Dura-ace bar end shifters, a Brooks saddle. It even comes standard with fenders and a rack. But man, the thing was heavy. And too big for me (and I don’t really want the added expense and lack of serviceability of disc brakes). The guy and I talked about cyclocross bikes which often have fender and rack eyelets (go figure), but they didn’t have any in an appropriate size. We looked around some more and found a Fuji Newest 1.0 that was in my size. It has a higher level of components than my current ride and it has rack eyelets. I gave it a quick spin and the difference between the Fuji and the Raleigh was immediately noticeable. It was fast, and the geometry seemed about right for me (with a 54 cm frame). It has an adjustable stem, STI shifters, 105 rear deraileur, yadda yadda. What can I say, I kinda liked how it rode. Only a longer test ride will tell. So, for now it looks like it’s on the short list.

This brings me to my last point of the evening. It’s been a little less than a year since I sold my car and started thinking more seriously about bikes. In that time, I’ve noticed that there seem to be two main schools of thought on what is “good” in cycling. There’s what is popularly known as the “retro-grouch” school as personified by Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bicycle Works. It’s tenets: Bikes should be made from steel; they should have lugs; frames must always include braze-ons and eyelets for racks and fenders in order to make the bike as useful as possible; lightweight is not good; if you are concerned about weight you should train more so you don’t notice the weight of your bike; a steel bike will last for decades while the structure of an aluminum or carbon bike will deteriorate and possibly fail catastrophically; wear wool, don’t wear lycra; (and something that really suprised me) clipless pedals are useless. Take a little time to look through the articles on the Rivendell site for more details on retro-grouchiness.

Then there is the modern bike manufacturer school: make it lighter, make it faster, every cyclist wants to ride like a racer, eylets are unnecessary on a true road bike, wheels must have as few spokes as possible, aggressive geometry is best; always wear lycra; slap some flashy graphics on that frame and give it a bitchin’ name! Take a look at any cycling magazine or the ad copy of a major bicycle manufacturer for this particular school.

Is there nothing in between these two poles? Nothing for the cyclist who wants to enjoy a nice ride in the country and be neither weighed down by a heavy bike nor bent over like a speed demon? While the retro-grouch rails against a cycling industry promoting its new-fangled technology with ridiculous ad copy, isn’t he just doing the same thing, but from a reactionary viewpoint?

So, my head continues to spin. The only way to solve it is to keep testing more bikes. I still haven’t visited Large LBS #2. I’ll try to do that soon to see what they have on offer. Meanwhile – I’m glad I wasn’t headed southbound on I-95 today:

As they say down south on Aquidneck: Newport society is divided between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have yachts.’ Or in this case, ‘use-ta-have-yachts.’

* I’ve decided to start a policy of semi-anonymizing the Local Bike Shops that I frequent. Readers in Rhode Island will be able to recognize them by my descriptions, and for those outside of the area, the name of the LBS is not really important. I’m not sure why I’m doing this – to avoid showing up in their google searches? To keep my own anonymity? Maybe it would be better to be forthright in my discussion of my dealings with these local businesses. Anyone have thoughts on this issue?

They are: Small LBS #1; Small LBS #2; Large LBS #1; Large LBS #2. The numbers have nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I frequent the #1s more than I frequent the #2s. So to speak.

Craigslist: Not Just for NSA hookups anymore

After completing my first (metric) century, I’ve feel like I’ve been bitten by the road bike bug. It’s been five years since I bought a new bike, and that seems like a reasonable amount of time to wait. Besides, think of all the money I’m saving by not owning a car, right? So, what kind of bike to get? Well, I spent an entire post on that a while ago, and now Project Cignal is sitting down in the bike rack at Recycle-a-Bike, waiting to be dismantled.

In the meantime, I’ve got bike fever. I’m always checking out other people’s rides to see what else is out there. I probably look like I’m leering at cyclists that I pass on the street, or I look like I’m scoping out bike racks for something to steal, but I’ve just got the craving for a new ride. I’ve even taken a few test rides at a few different LBSs. I’ve kept the test rides pretty short so I don’t feel like I’m leading the LBS on. Then I remembered that there’s this thing called Craigslist where people sell all of the crap they don’t want anymore.  If they live in a big city, they may even write an entertaining ad with carefully composed pictures. We’re not so lucky here in RI. I’ve found some interesting things including a Surly Pacer frameset. I kind of like the idea of Surly bikes, but I’m not sure if it would be the right bike for me. Basically, they make their bikes out of steel and put basic, no-nonsense parts on them. They’re not made for racing, they are made for people to enjoy riding. They also seem to have a very loyal following, almost like one of the hand-built American bikeframe makers (except Surlys are made in Taiwan like 75% of the bikes of the world, thus they cost a fraction of a US made bike) and I saw tons of them in Portland, each one looked like it was well taken care of and well loved (I’m totally not projecting here, right?) Since my Portland trip, I’ve seen a few of them around town. My small LBS carries them, but they basically only order one when someone wants one because they are kind of a specialty item.

I dropped by the small LBS to see if I was crazy to buy a frameset and then hire them to put together a bike. (In bike parlance, this is known as “building” or “building up a bike.” It sounds way cooler than “assembling” which is more or less what it is.) Basically, I want a road bike or a sport bike or possibly a touring bike (still not sure of the difference there), something with drop handlebars, but not a super-aggressive racing bike. I want this next bike to be significantly better than my current Roadmaster. But what the hell do I mean by that? What will I get from spending $1,500 on components that I wouldn’t get from spending $1,000? How about just spending $1,000 on a complete bike? You always get a better deal when you buy a complete bike from a shop, because the manufacturer has done so much of the work (and buys the components at a volume discount). But it may not be exactly how I want it (I know I’d have to get a different saddle, for example). Would I notice the difference between a Shimano 105 and my current Shimano Tiagra? Hell if I know. And then there’s bike geometry! So many thousands of little differences: this bike has a longer head tube, but the bottom bracket is higher, while the other bike has a sloping top tube and no toe clearance. I think I’m running into the paradox of choice: i.e. too many choices leave the consumer feeling unsatisfied no matter the choice made.

Speaking of unsatisfied, back to our old friend: Craigslist. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at the quality of bike that I’ve seen in just a a couple weeks of keeping an eye on the postings. Sure there’s tons of crap BMX bikes, shitty full-suspension mountain bikes, and more big-box store BSOs than I’d care to admit exist in this world; but within that, there’s a few gems. Or at least, bikes that sold new for $1,500 or more.

Like this Specialized Roubaix, a full carbon fiber frame & fork with Shimano Ultegra & 105 components. I’m guessing it retailed anywhere from $2,000 to $2,500 plus an extra $150 for the pedals. Here’s my favorite part of the posting, “LOW MILES!!! Only been riden [sic] in a few group rides, approx. 100-120 miles and has never been riden hard.” This guy dropped maybe $2,500 on a bike so he could ride it in group rides. Now, in all fairness, maybe he has another bike that he rides on a regular basis or something. But really, why would you do that? I’d read about people who decide they want to start biking, so they drop a ton of cash in order to get the fanciest bike they can, only to let it sit and collect dust in the garage. But I didn’t think there would be so many of them!

How about this post. I’ll save you the link, here’s the full text: “2008 cervelo P2C – $2200 Bike barely used with Dura Ace components. Bottle cages and aero cages included. 51cm.” What the hell? How do you buy a bike with one of the most high-end component groups available – and then never ride it?

I’m tired of linking, so here’s a few select quotes from my perusal of the bike listing:

This bike has only 15miles on it [on a Fuji road bike]

Custume Bike4 sale

i have a 2009 stolen pattywagon frame no parts i only rode this frame twice lookin for 250 also have a 07 fit trail 2 its not in the best condition i thought i had parts to fix it but i dont sellin it 100 bucks

this bike used to be my everyday bike but since ive got a car i have no use for it i gave up bmx and into dirtbiking so any reasonable offer wont be denied 200 obo

Girls first bike Very nice. Shwinn Helmut included

Okay, enough with making fun of peoples’ spelling errors. Here’s one more. “It only has about 250 miles on it. The bike has Shimano 105 front derailer, 105 crank set, and 105 shifters. The rear derailleur is Shimano Ultegra sl and the brakes are Tektro R520 Dual Pivot.” $750.  Hmmm…. I wonder if I could take the components from this bike and put them on a different frame….

Shit. Now I’m just talking crazy. What sort of rabbit hole have I fallen through?

I’m also starting to think: There sure are a lot of semi-expensive, barely ridden road bikes for sale on the craigslist. Are there that many idiots out there, or is there just something inherently uncomfortable about these bikes?

You know what I don’t see? Basic steel touring and sport bikes. Maybe I’m onto something here. Or maybe there are just a lot of idiots in the world.


Update: I drafted this post almost two weeks ago, and since then I emailed about a few of the bikes mentioned above. None of the road bike owners got back to me – probably sold by now. I did have a brief correspondence with the Surly Pacer owner, we even went so far as to arrange a day (but not a time or place) for me to check out the frame. Then he flaked out on me – not sure what is up with that. So, no frameset build-up for me… at least not yet.


One more gem from the “Bicycles” section of Craigslist:

Time for a new bike!

I’m so excited! I’ve had my Cannondale 400 for about 5 years now, and it’s been good to me.  But ever since I sold my car, I’ve started lusting after a new bike. After all, think of all of the money I’m saving by not having a car, right? What better use for that money than to get a new bike. But what kind of bike to get? My 400 does so many different things so well, it’s decent on the longer rides, can carry all the groceries I need, and it’s pretty fast. Still, I’ve got the itch to get a new bike, and I just have to satisfy it.

How about a super light-weight crabon fibre racing bike? Those things can cost anywhere from $5,000 on up, but I heard about a company called Neuvation that essentially puts together a lightweight frame with great components for around $2,000. They do it so cheaply by having essentially no marketing budget. So maybe I should get their FC7900:

The thing weighs less than 18 pounds! Imagine how fast I could speed down the East Bay Bike path on this! Well, I’d probably just scare the hell out of the out-of-shape Barrington residents as they cruise at 8 mph on their comfort bikes. Maybe not such a great idea… but maybe someday?

Well, how about a steel touring bike – something that would be comfortable for 75 plus miles, day after day that I could use for long trips. I could even go to the local frame builder, Circle-A Cycles. Just think, a bike built just for my body. No more picking something off the rack. I could even get custom color and minimal graphics like this one:

check those bar-end shifters

I’d be supporting a local craftsman, someone who is sought out for his custom work. And it looks like he makes some pretty sweet bikes. But the cost – a little steep for me right now.

How about a dedicated commuter bike. Something with internal hub gearing (great for being low-maintenance), and an up-right posture. Something like the Breezer Uptown 8 – it even has a chain guard so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting chain grease on my pants.

I could go crazy and get a big cargo-hauler like the Surly Big Dummy:

Or even crazier with the Bullitt S7 cargo bike.

Like I said before, I can fit all of the groceries I need into my panniers. About the only thing I can’t carry on my bike that I regularly like to buy, is a case of wine or a 12 pack of beer (two six packs are no problem with the panniers, but I prefer the thriftiness of buying 12 packs). So I don’t need either of those, although they look like they would be useful for people with large families. The bullitt can be equipped with a large box that goes on the platform.

How about a fixed gear or single speed? Definitely low maintenance and lightweight. And if I read one more article about how riding one is a total zen experience, I’ll puke. Before puking, maybe I should try it for myself? Something from uber-hip Mission Bicycles in SF?

Speaking of puking, how about that color combination I mean “colorway”? I’d have to use a 50 pound lock just to keep it out of the hands of the salivating RISD students.  And oh yeah, I have to climb a big hill to get home no matter where I go, so maybe it’s good to have gears.

There’s just something magical about a folding bike. I could take it on the train any time. I could even take it on a plane. It’s just so cool that you can carry around a bike folded up into a little package like this.

Dahon Curve D3

But I certainly don’t need a folder. I don’t ride the commuter rail during peak hours (when only folders are allowed), and I rarely take my bike with me as it is. Also, the local buses (which cover the entire state) allow full-sized bikes at any time – I should take advantage of that some more and explore other parts of the state.

So, I’ve ruled out all of those other bikes… for now. I may return to one of them for my third bike. In the meantime, I have finally acquired my second bike. And by “acquired” I mean it was left with me by a friend when he moved away because he didn’t want to truck it with him. Check out this sweet ride!

Purple and rust, now that’s a hip colorway! Check out the front brakes:

Those brakes look a little side goggled. It’s hard to show in a still picture, but the front wheel is completely out of true. I don’t know how my friend let the bike get in this condition.  But the bottom bracket still looks beefy:

Well, beefy and rusty. Now what do I do with it?