Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Test Rides

Having an opportunity to ride a variety of bicycle brands when attempting to make an educated decision seems to make a lot of sense to me. As you are likely aware, I've been tooling around on the '75 Raleigh Super Course for several days now, but I thought it would be interesting to see how some newer models of similar bicycles might compare. The SC is pretty impressive for a bike that's virtually lived its life not being well cared for - a true testament to the quality of this vintage ride.

The first stop was at Boulder's own University Bicycles. This was my first experience inside this shop, and I have to say, it was quite overwhelming. They have so many different kinds of bikes that I wasn't sure where to turn. It's in a lovely spot (Just north of the crazy tourist trap, Pearl Street Mall), and the day was off to a beautiful start. Unfortunately, they didn't quite have what I was looking for. However, if you are in the market for a mountain bike, a super racer street bicycle or even possibly a cruiser, this could be a spot to try since they have so many options available. The people seemed friendly enough, and wanted to make sure everyone was properly greeted. Unfortunately for me, this is a recipe for disaster as I can only handle so much energy coming at me on any given day.

We then decided to roll down to Denver to the REI. While I tend to get a little aggravated in the REI flagship store in Denver (for many reasons), they had a smaller sized Raleigh Clubman that I wanted to test ride. So, it was either deal with the craziness of this store on a weekend day, or not have the chance to ride this possible future tourist/road bike. The picture that I was able to locate is of the 2011 model, but despite the color
change, it seems to be the same bike. While it seems to have some decent components for the approximately $1,100 USD price tag, the bike didn't ride as I'd hoped. It seemed to drag quite a bit and it felt slow. I realize some might say, "Well, pedal faster," but it really went beyond the pedaling speed. It just didn't feel good to me. I know there are many people who love this bicycle, but I was fairly disappointed in the ride. Honestly, when comparing it to the '75 Raleigh I have here at home, I thought there was no comparison. Sadly, I'd take the hooptie any day over the new Raleigh.

After the disappointing ride on the Clubman, we made our way a little deeper into Denver to one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite bike shop in Denver: Cycle Analyst. I knew that they had two models that I absolutely felt I needed to test ride. The first one was the Salsa Casseroll. While the currently available model on the Salsa website is a "double," the model I rode was the "triple" that is being phased out. It was a
pretty interesting ride and, in my opinion, was much more comfortable than the Clubman. The price tag is right around $1,700 USD, and I wasn't sure I could justify this cost for the ride. While it is an attractive looking bicycle, I wasn't completely sold on the feel of this bike. Again, I know there are a ton of reviews on this particular model and that many love it, but for me, it still didn't feel ideal. I did really like it, but was unsure I'd be willing to invest the money for this specific bicycle.

The second ride at Cycle Analyst was the Surly Long Haul Trucker. This bike has to be the most sinfully awful looking bike on the market. I'm not sure they could've made it look worse if they'd been trying. While the mid-to large sizes of this bike look okay to my eye, I don't find the small version attractive in the least.

The LHT comes in two colors in the current model: the black (as pictured above) and a sort of royal blue color. I am not fond of either of these options. Additionally, the 26 inch tires look hideous on this frame, making it look like a bike for someone who has no desire to even look remotely good on a bike. While I realize it should be function over form, I can't help but have a bit of vanity about the ride I'm rolling on. I keep thinking there must be a way to put larger wheels on it because there seems to be a ton of room between the tire and the frame. I'm sure that I'm wrong, but regardless, it just looks funny. On the up side, this bike seemed to ride like a dream. I loved, loved, loved the bar end shifters on this bicycle, and it just felt comfortable to ride. I've even mulled over the idea of having the frame painted a better color and looking into larger wheels just to avoid the severe dork factor. Plus, at less than $1,100, it's a relatively decent price for this type of touring/hauling capable sort of bicycle.

Overall, I was pleased with the results of today's visit to the various bike shops. What will become of it all? I'm still not entirely certain, but, I do know that the hooptie is really a bit large for me, and I think a smaller frame will have to come about at some point down the line if I intend to do some longer rides.

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