Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winter Time Bike-Dreaming and Drooling

If you happen to have been reading here for awhile, you may be aware of a winter time trend that seems to take place in our household. Each winter, we almost always become fixated on a certain bicycle (sometimes, several bicycles), and generally end up purchasing at least one of these. This winter, I haven't been obsessed with a certain bike, but rather with finding a lightweight, faster road bike.

After last summer ended, I realized how much I was enjoying the longer rides and finding that I might appreciate having a lighter weight option. I test rode a friends' carbon bike to see if that could be a good option, and ultimately decided that, at least for the time being, I am quite satisfied with the ride on steel. But, there are much lighter weight steel bikes than I was riding, and so the search began... quietly, in those free moments that don't happen very often.

Then, just as I was deciding I would leave things be, I suddenly came upon a slew of possibilities. A Yeti road bike presented itself and it took quite a bit to resist. It was a last run of the road bikes the company once made, but I didn't want an aluminum bike because I've had issues with them in the past. Then, a 17 year old Waterford with new components wandered in front of me, and I really had a difficult time walking away. It's hard for me to resist something that is priced to sell and that was certainly in sync with my aesthetic taste. However, I stood strong and said, "No," because I knew that it was similar (though lighter weight) than what I have in the bike arsenal. Next, I came upon a Seven titanium road bike in the perfect size, and I almost had to be physically restrained. One just doesn't find this sort of bike with a price tag under several thousand dollars, so when I saw it priced well below what it should be, it was difficult to say no... and yet, I did. Partially because even at its severely discounted price it still wasn't in the current budget, but also because I was convinced I would be able to get through this season without buying a bike.
A current Yeti road bike for sale locally (here, if anyone has interest)
I was so proud of myself for leaving all the bikes alone and knowing that those I currently have are perfectly fine for the riding I am doing. The Hillborne gets me around everywhere - long or short distances - and the Homer is well suited to most any road ride I am participating in. Even knowing that I have no intentions of competing in bike races, there was still a part of me longing for a lighter weight option. When I tested out the Specialized Ruby mentioned above, there was no denying that climbing was certainly easier on the body. I have big plans for this summer's riding and while the distances are easily covered on either of the bikes I own, hills would be a lot easier to ascend on a different bike.

Just as I was making my peace with riding what I have, another bike began taunting me. I showed a photo of the bike to my "pusher" (aka Sam) and said it looked interesting. He agreed. He followed up by stating that it had some "interesting components" and that it might be "a great option" for my summer plans. Hmm. "You're not helping me," I retorted, but I was determined to stand strong. I pushed it out my mind, but occasionally found myself staring at the photo. After catching me one day glancing at the picture Sam stated, "You know, we could just go and look at the bike." I, however, did not want to be involved with it because I know me and I know what happens when I get around a bike I'm eyeing. I was not going to be responsible for another bike purchase. Instead, I found myself saying things like, "It probably rides just like what I have," or "It can't be that great," trying to convince myself more than anything that I didn't need this bike.
I love the idea of this bike handle, but the bike has to be light enough to pick up one handed
(and as a side-note, I would be holding it on the other side because the crank would tear me up, I'm sure)
Then, one day, Sam had enough of my shenanigans and decided to just go and test ride it himself. I remained confident that he would come home empty-handed. After all, he is the strong one. I even said before he left, "Please don't do anything rash... if it isn't right, it isn't right, and trying to make it work isn't going to help anything." Off he went to see this bike, and a couple of hours later I received a message that he "had my bike" with him. Ugh. I was both excited and sick about this idea. I don't ever think it's a good idea to have someone else test a bike for another person, let alone actually buy it. It just can't end well. People have different ideas about what feels good/right/etcetera, and even though Sam is quite versed in what I find comfortable, I still don't like the idea of someone else determining what a good ride is for me.

When I first saw the bike I thought, "It's GIGANTIC! How am I ever going to ride that?" But, as I got closer, I realized it was about the same height as my Hillborne with a slightly shorter top tube, and when I stood over it, the clearance was fine. I got to hear the story at this point about the guy who'd purchased this custom bicycle for his wife about 8 years ago, which she rode twice. From that point, it sat in the garage getting moved around until he finally had enough and said he was going to sell it. She was just disinterested in cycling of any kind. Again, my theory is proven - don't buy bikes for other people unless they've had a chance to ride it themselves. I could see the writing on the wall... as well as the fate of this bike in our household. The main difference being, we'd spent approximately 20% of the original cost of this bike, while the original purchaser was left with the lion's share of the expense. I couldn't help but feel bad for him, especially because I have been that person (far too many times).

To date, I have taken the bike on a few rides, but nothing longer than about 10 miles. The weather just hasn't cooperated on the days I've had an opportunity to get out. With the thinner tires, I'm also a bit nervous around ice. Our days are heating up slowly though, so I'm sure I'll have more time with this ride soon and can provide a more extensive evaluation and personal thoughts on this bike.  My initial thought is that it really is a lot easier to pedal up hills. It's not so much that I'm faster necessarily (though I cannot verify this as the bike didn't have a functioning computer on it when I was riding and I am horrible at guessing bike speed), but that it requires less effort and I am therefore not as tired allowing me to push through tougher spots on the road.  In addition, it feels "lively" or "sporty" for lack of better terminology at the moment. It feels as though the effort being put into the pedals is evident right away, rather than feeling as though I have to really push to get up to speed. It's an interesting change from my normal rides.

The bike came to me with a Terry Butterfly Ti saddle... I have not had the best luck with Terry saddles in the past, but I'm going to give it a shot for now. I have a couple of Brooks B-17s sitting around, so there is an alternative to try out if I just can't make this one work. I also changed out the bar tape and tires (well, Sam changed the tires for me because he was nice enough to not make me do it), and removed a third water bottle cage from the handlebars. The original pedals remain, though I'm leery about using these. They are double-sided (SPD one side, flat on the other), and I'm still hesitant to use the clip pedals because of my klutziness and my frequent inability to remember that my shoe is attached to the pedal, but I'm leaving these for the time being as well (if you're interested in my past experiment with clipless pedals, you can read about it here).

The "mystery" bike is a Torelli Express. It's made of Columbus steel, has carbon seat stays, Campagnolo brakes and shifters, and a Reynolds Ouzo Comp fork. More details will follow when I have the opportunity to ride it more. I also have to apologize for not having photos of the bike in this post (it's like some sort of cruel teaser without the payoff, right?), but I promise, they will come. I am still trying to feel my way through this bike and figure out what works and what doesn't for me, and because of that, I haven't had a camera with me on any of the rides thus far. It's a bit different from what I understand the current iteration of the Express to be, but I'm sure much remains the same.

In all, I'm looking forward to testing out this bike on a longer ride, and getting the full picture of what a truly lighter bike can do.. If you have thoughts or things I should try out, please feel free to leave comments.

4 comments:

  1. Oh! Congrats on the new addition. I'm looking forward to hearing more and seeing if it will work for you. :o) Oh! What color is it? Happy riding! BTW, it's supposed to be 70 by Friday, excellent riding weather...and I am so jealous! ;o)

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    1. You will be well soon and out riding before you know it. :O) I'm actually looking forward to slower rides for some reason this year (even though I have my head set on doing some faster/longer distances).

      The new bike is yellow(ish). Sam keeps telling me that it's more mustard than yellow - so I'll say it's somewhere in between the two. I was excited though because I always want yellow bikee, and it just kind of happened to be one that would work. :O)

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  2. I guess the bike is so fast, that it's hard for me to tell how yellow it is!

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  3. Sounds great! Looking forward to hearing more about how it rides and how you like it!

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