"I thought of that while riding my bicycle."
- Albert Einstein
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The other day at work a bicycle came to me to be repaired. Now that's no surprise as repairing and rebuilding bicycles is what I do almost all day and for 6 days of the week. This one particular bike made me think a little bit. First I'll describe the basics of this bike - it was only 2 or 3 years old and still is a top-of-the-line machine built around a titanium frame, carbon fork, and Campagnolo Record 10 speed components. Just a quick guess without looking up the numbers is that this was a $4500-$6000 bicycle. That in itself isn't unusual for where I work but the repair for this bike was. The bicycle already had a triple crank set installed and the repair called for a new carbon fiber fork, new stem, new handlebars, chain, and cassette. The fork steerer tube (the part that goes through the frame) was to be left uncut allowing for maximum range of adjustment. The stem was to be one with a 45° rise and the bars had the shallowest drops possible. The stack of spacers under the stem allowed the drops of the handlebars to pass over the top tube of the frame. Basically a very upright riding position for what was intended to be a very race-worthy bicycle. Moving to the back of the bike the cassette was to have a range of 12 to 32 teeth on the cogs. 32 teeth is about the maximum most any derailleur can handle and this makes for a very low gear ratio and a very low speed. Now it's not hilly in the least around here but that's not to say the gent doesn't travel with his bicycle. I don't know if he does or doesn't. So anyway, I did a full tear-down of the bike with a cleaning and inspection of everything and installed the parts as requested. The repair bill with parts and labour I estimated to be at least $700. Looking at the bike in its new state I thought it looked so far removed from it's previous incarnation and frankly, a bit silly. I wondered why would anyone spend this kind of money to gain the riding position the same as found on a hybrid bicycle and ride his bike a style that will never again fully utilize the performance of insanely expensive race-inspired carbon and alloy parts. Then I thought this was just a bit of machismo in me and took the bike for its test ride. It was oh-so-comfortable! and this bike didn't really want to go fast. It did want to make it easy for the rider to move the same as your best shoes make it easy to walk. Cruising along going through the gears and every other 'real life' check of the bike I can't reproduce when it's in the repair stand I now started to notice the landscape and other businesses and I wasn't nervous to turn my head to see what truck was now barreling down behind me in the industrial park. With this bike I felt like I was part of the ride and not just part of the pavement which is about all I usually see when I ride a race bike. Now all the high $ bikes I repair are a pleasure to ride one way or another but this is one I could of (no... not really) taken home with me! I really could of spent all day on this bike it was so enjoyable. Again, no not really as I'm paid by the hour! So to the customer with all the disposable income I may never meet - congrats on your new ride. I hope it brings you many hundreds or thousands of very enjoyable kilometers. I also wanted to say I'm in no way jealous of your bike however I will be watching your street for yard sale signs and I'll be there bright and early should you have one ;)