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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Why isn't good enough good enough?

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on this whole bike upgrading thing. Let me put my question in perspective.

    In the summer of 05 I started biking again, with a new low-end low-cost mountain bike, and put about 800 miles on that bike on the knobbies, never straying from the road, until someone suggested slicks. Did that, and now have about 2,000 miles on that bike.

    I realized somewhere in the midst of all that that I was probably going to spend most of my cycling time on the road, but when I tried out a few road bikes, they were always too uncomfortable. Then I found on Craigslist a used Giant Cypress SX, and figured for about $200 how could I lose?

    This bike has been excellent for me. I've swapped out the saddle, installed new brakes and tires, raised the stem, got a rack for the back, a computer, and now some bar ends. It's given me a good ride, and I've got about 1,600 miles on it so far. This 2004 model is an excellent economical flat bar road bike. In 2005 and beyond, they changed it to a comfort bike and I wouldn't buy any of the subsequent models.

    Anyway...as many of you know, I've been searching, in an on-again/off-again manner, for a better bike, and have tested most of the well known brands entry level road bikes. They are not as uncomfortable as they used to be, and I can probably use a bike with drop bars provided it's still set up with the bars about even with the saddle, and so on.

    But here's what I think stops me when I go looking. If I'm completely honest with myself, my current bike (the Cypress SX) is good enough for my purposes. I ride mostly shorter rides (10-25) miles, in urban neighborhoods with lots of traffic signals and stop signs and such, 3-4 times a week, for fun and good exercise. I haven't been able to understand how a new bike will substantially improve on my experience.

    I can appreciate how a more expensive and newer bike can have better components, having tried them, but honestly -- the low end trigger shifters seem to do the job easily, the bike, while slow, is fast enough for me (I probably average 12-15 mph on my rides). I don't climb many hills so I can see how a different bike might make that easier, but my brain keeps coming back to "good enough is good enough!"

    Yet I haunt the bike shops and browse Craigslist still. I don't understand this! When I tried out the Cypress SX, I could tell immediately the performance boost I'd get with it to do the kind of riding I do, compared with the heavier mountain bike. But when I test ride the affordable road bikes, the improvement seems much less substantial. Yes, they are smoother and lighter and more limber, but I guess they're not THAT much better or I would have pulled the trigger. (Yes, there was a time when it was a financial question, but that's not so true anymore.)

    So what I wonder about is why, if what I have is good enough, dependable enough, fast enough, and certainly paid for enough, why if that's true, do I keep looking at new bikes. And what's it going to take for me to find another bike that lifts the whole experience so much that I gotta have it -- like what happened when I tried out the SX? I came close to that feeling only a couple of times -- and if I remember right, they were both bikes made of carbon. (My wallet just hiccuped).

    Okay, enough musings for one morning. I know, I know. N+1 = the right number of bikes. I just don't see why, in my case.
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  2. #2
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    Gary - you have found the secret to Nirvana - don't want more than you already have. I have a F900 Cannondale - wonderful bike, LOTS of kilometers on it. I could buy another bike, but I fear my current bike would have me bumped off or something....

    And, all that time spent looking at bikes would be better spent riding, doncha think?

  3. #3
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Good questions DG. Earlier today, I happened upon a thread that asked "What kind of bike do you get for $5000?" There were lots of viewpoints, but one I found interesting is (paraphrased) that you can buy a Timex (which is what I've got) or you can buy a Rolex. Both keep time pretty accurately, but the Rolex gives you a certain amount of styling and/or satisfaction you can't find in any other way. Thread here:What does a $5000 plus bike ride like

    Those who actually had $5,000 bikes may have considered the purchase worth the money but didn't seem to think they had been lifted into another realm of existence--and that you hit diminishing returns fairly quickly. From a strictly practical perspective, the more expensive bike will likely be lighter and possibly more reliable, which may matter a whole lot more to a racer or hard-core roadie than it would to you or me. Speaking for myself, I rode my 20-year-old beater mountain bike in the snow today and had a grand time.
    Last edited by Blackberry; 01-22-07 at 12:50 PM.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I have generally changed my bikes about every 2 to 3 years. In 2001 I bought my Bianchi Mountain bike. This was a factory "Special" as they had put the wrong components onto a higher ranged frame. So I had a good bike but some of the components were still low grade. Over the years, as parts have failed, I have upgraded the parts to something very respectable. In fact- all I have of the original bike is the frame- The bar stem and the front derailler. I could get a more modern bike but to get the grade of bike that I would be happy with- I would be looking at around $4,000 to replace this old Bianchi that does everything that I want it to, and is built with the components of high enough quality that it is not going to let me down.

    Then in 2002 I bought the Tandem. A very good bike in the Tandem world, even though it is not up to the standard of some of the other Gold Plated US manufacturers. It was not suitable for the use that I wanted to give it but the frame was probably the best for my use that I could have bought and the bits attached to the frame would get me started on offroad tandem riding. A lot of money later and I have a tandem that will do everything that My Bianchi will do- Except I have trouble bunny hopping it- and at a far faster speed. It is built like a tank and will never let me down unless we find a tree that we cannot miss at full downhill speed. I could not repalce this Tandem unless I start the same way with a Top grade frame and built from the ground up. At todays priced- that will cost me in excess of $10,000 and would probably have the same components that I currently have. So why bother when the current Tandem is exactly what I want.

    Then last year I got the road bike. A Giant SCR 3.0. Not the same SCR as you have as this appears to be the European replacement of the OCR. Only got the base model at around $800 but this has everything on it that I want. May only have 8 spd sora gears on it. May not have any trick bits on it. May not be the best handling bike around. What it is though is a very good bike for an occasional road biker that just wants an uncomplicated bike that is going to give him a good ride.

    If you have a bike that works- you like- and doesn't owe you anything- then why change it. Upgrade it as parts fail and built a basic bike into something just a little bit special. That is what I have done on my bikes, And my bikes work for me.

    Now as we have convinced you to stay with the Cypress- About the next upgrade you are going to get for it and my suggestion is wheels. The best improvement you can do to any bike so when do you get them?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Those who actually had $5,000 bikes may have considered the purchase worth the money but didn't seem to think they had been lifted into another realm of existence--and that you hit diminishing returns fairly quickly. From a strictly practical perspective, the more expensive bike will likely be lighter and possibly more reliable, which may matter a whole lot more to a racer or hard-core roadie than it would to you or me. Speaking for myself, I rode my 20-year-old beater mountain bike in the snow today and had a grand time.
    Looking at my stable I have some really NICE bikes. But I obtained most of them used from various sources and seldom paid more than $2,000 for the most expensive. I DID pay about $3,600 for my Eddy Merckx Corsa new and with all of the latest stuff on it. It is my heaviest and also my fastest bike. But I can hardly bear to take it on the road because it cost so much. Instead I end up riding my Basso or my Look both of which cost considerably less than a grand by the time I built them up.

  6. #6
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DG
    ...So what I wonder about is why, if what I have is good enough, dependable enough, fast enough, and certainly paid for enough, why if that's true, do I keep looking at new bikes....
    It's called dreaming the "what if!" "What if, I had bike X, I would... climb higher, go faster, ride longer, you fill in the blank _______." This is good as long as it doesn't detract you from other important things in your life.
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  7. #7
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    Now as we have convinced you to stay with the Cypress- About the next upgrade you are going to get for it and my suggestion is wheels. The best improvement you can do to any bike so when do you get them?
    Okay, so what would a wheel improvement do for me, and what would you suggest? Right now, I have XERO-Light XSR-4 wheels, and Specialized Burrough 700x32 tires.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    More, better and different. It's the American way.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rule
    More, better and different. It's the American way.
    The way I have always heard it is: "If some is good, More is always better!"

    There is a story I was told by a Dutch associate years ago. Now the Dutch have a reputation for being "frugal" to put it politely. This person told me that in the U.S. he was surprised when looking at a perscription's directions that the predominant item was the "NOT TO EXCEED" clause on the label. In Holland he told me they have specific instructions on what dossage is required to have any effect!
    Sort of off thread, but related.

  10. #10
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Okay, so what would a wheel improvement do for me, and what would you suggest? Right now, I have XERO-Light XSR-4 wheels, and Specialized Burrough 700x32 tires.
    So now we start on the next round of what should I get?


    Cant Help you Gary As I do not have the experience on road bikes but as I am up for new wheels on the Giant= I am looking for Suggestions from the rest of the forum for a 700 wheel with a top rate rim, enough spokes and a hub that will last for the next 4 years. And must not cost an arm -Or- a leg. Good wheels at sensible prices- What suggestions?
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  11. #11
    Senior Member vger285's Avatar
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    It's in the blood, everybody wants the next best thing,sounds like you got your bike at the sweet spot! Your always gonna go to the LBS and check out the new stuff, Then don't think about upgrading, just go out and go upgrade(Eddy Merckx) and enjoy your ride, you got the best of both worlds!!

  12. #12
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    DG

    Why mess around with it. Remember "Better is the enemy of Good Enough". Do longer rides, maybe some supported rides. My daughter lives in SD and sometimes goes on group rides. With more distance you may (or may not) decide you want something different.

    Joe

  13. #13
    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    He's right, it's the American Way. Bigger, Better, More Expensive. I guess it's the same reason some guy needs a Lexus to drive 6 miles to work and back, or why do people who don't know the meaning of "Depth of Field" buy a digital SLR to shoot family snapshots. When you think about it most people could get by with a Toyota Corolla and a Canon "Point and Shoot".

    But back to your question. I'm with you. I bought a Trek 1200c when I started riding. It's a great bike for me and I don't plan on buying another, ever. It suites my needs just fine. I also bought an inexpensive Gary Fisher, same story, good enough.

    I'm pretty sure your Cypress is exactly right for the kind of riding you enjoy, so why change except to look better. Heck seeing as you don't do many hills, new lighter wheels may even be unjustified.

    Now of course if I was 28 with a great body and trying to impress the chicks that's a whole nother story.
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  14. #14
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Gary,

    It seems to me that you have a bike that is very well suited to your usage and you find it comfortable to ride. I could someone in your position switching to a road bike, after all you are riding on roads and they are somwhat more efficient on them than your present bike. But only if they were comfortable for you. For if they aren't, then you probably wouldn't ride them as much as your present bike. And that wouldn't make any sense.

    It may be that you are already at optimal - that is, you have the most optimal compromise bike for your personal needs and usage.

    I can understand you continuing to look for a good deal on a used road bike, just to see if you could adapt to it, and if not, dump it for about what you paid for it. I was thinking the same thing until I decided that I hated riding a road bike so much, that it didn't make any sense to get one. (Although I admit that if I stumble on a great deal ... like a nice Schwinn from Goodwill for $15, I might still pop for one.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
    Now of course if I was 28 with a great body and trying to impress the chicks that's a whole nother story.
    Now you understand DG'S dilema. while not 28, he is in a position to "try" and impress the chicks. So he half needs a better bike

  16. #16
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    [quote=DigitalGee]Why isn't good enough good enough? [endquote]

    But it IS...

    If your ride is sweet enough, just ride it. As a familiar saying goes about persons in committed relationships looking at members of the opposite gender:"Just because I've already ordered, doesn't mean I can't look at the menu..."

    It is human nature and a by-product of our material culture, that we are always curious about some other latest/newest/more expensive/fancier THANG.

    BTW, I got a new bike because my old one didn't fit me very well and there wasn't anything else I could do to it to improve that situation...
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  17. #17
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    I call it Bike Lust. Sometimes you just have to have a new one.

  18. #18
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Your here in this forum. You do not ride a bike as a necessity. Obviously bikes are more than just a machine that you use to do something. Some folks covet expensive cars, some expensive wines. Those of us here just "like bikes". It could be worse, you could have 17 cats.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx
    It could be worse, you could have 17 cats.
    centexwoody
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  20. #20
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    If you're content doing the riding your doing your bike is obviously well suited for that. If you had an interest in a different type of riding-lots of much longer rides, rides with group, improving overall speed, epic centuries etc, then you might want to consider a different bike.

    I think it keeps coming back to determining what kind of riding you want to do. Once you get that figured out it helps determine the type of bike you might want.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    So now we start on the next round of what should I get?


    Cant Help you Gary As I do not have the experience on road bikes but as I am up for new wheels on the Giant= I am looking for Suggestions from the rest of the forum for a 700 wheel with a top rate rim, enough spokes and a hub that will last for the next 4 years. And must not cost an arm -Or- a leg. Good wheels at sensible prices- What suggestions?
    Mavic Open Pro rims (if clincher), 32 or 36 spokes, built on either Ultegra 9, 10 or Chorus 10 speed hubs. Based on the spoke notes on Peter White's website, I'd go with Wheelsmith spokes. You may cheapen hubs to taste. You can get cheaper and you can get lighter, but it makes a great compromise of cost, strength, durability, easy rolling, and lightness for a road bike. Plus all teh parts are home-maintainable, everything works just like it did 40 years ago, 'cep for the freewheels.

    Road "who needs 24 mm rims????" Fan

  22. #22
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe
    I think it keeps coming back to determining what kind of riding you want to do. Once you get that figured out it helps determine the type of bike you might want.
    That's been my experience. I started riding on a hybrid and most rides were on trails with the grandkids. I bought my first road bike (Trek 1800C) when I started riding longer distances with some of the club members. I decided to buy the next road bike for a couple reasons - It's a WSD and fits me better than the original and I wanted a backup road bike
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    But here's what I think stops me when I go looking. If I'm completely honest with myself, my current bike (the Cypress SX) is good enough for my purposes. I ride mostly shorter rides (10-25) miles, in urban neighborhoods with lots of traffic signals and stop signs and such, 3-4 times a week, for fun and good exercise. I haven't been able to understand how a new bike will substantially improve on my experience.
    Imagine that the only car you've ever owned was an '81 Volkswagen diesel pickup. It's a dependable vehicle that gets you from point A to point B...albeit, slowly, and with no "elan".

    Now, imagine that you got to drive a Subaru WRX, with tight all-wheel drive suspension, and turbo-charged 6-speed shifting.

    That's the difference between your Cypress SX and a good modern road bike.

    Does that mean you "need" the WRX?

    No...if you're only interested in getting from point A to point B.

    Yes...if you want to feel what it's like to "play" on a windy mountain road.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Everybody's right and all reason's above for buying or not buying are good. Perhaps, however, and that's only a perhaps, you ride your current speed and distance because that is what best suits your current bike, not your potential cycling Self. As Grant Peterson at Riv sorta says, "A good bike won't make you directly faster or stronger or have more fun, but then, it won't hold you back either."
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  25. #25
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    Perhaps I'm looking at this differently than I should, but why do mountain climbers climb mountains? Why do many young men date many women before marrying one? Why do some married people have affairs? Why do I have at least six kinds of pie that I really, really like? I think "human nature" for some is that desire to try something else. While I acknowledge that many people in western cultures are rasied in an atmosphere of consumerism (perhaps none more than those in the U.S.), I think it goes beyond that. I think there are some people who enjoy the hunt or search as it were. I love my main bike right now, and it far exceeds what I need, but I'd love to have four more.... just to be able to ride 'em.
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