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  1. #1
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    What makes your bike work for you?

    Been test riding a few bikes recently. I am up for N+1 next year and this will be my last bike for a while. Problem is--I don't really know what I want.

    Into road now and have a couple of good bikes in the Giant TCR-C and the Boreas Ignis and this is what I am basing this posting on. The Boreas is almost perfect. May be Aluminium but some how it is resilient. Has the right amount of give in the frame to give a compliant ride but stiff enough so that it does not lose power through flexing. Groupset is a mix of 105 and Ultegra and weighs in at 16 1/2 lbs in ride trim with Pump- full bottle and wedge. It works for me but is a little too aggressive a ride position for rides over a metric. Has a Compact 50/34 and 12/27 cassette and will manage all the hills in my area.

    But longer or hillier rides than the metric and the TCR comes into play. C.F. Frame and mainly 105 with a triple 50/39/30 and 12/25 cassette. That is one very stiff frame but a hand-built set of wheels and it has a bit of comfort for the longer rides. This bike goes up hills and I know that is down to the engine but literally- you start a hill and it is done. Boreas and I have to work on the stiffer ones. Bit heavier at just over 17lbs but I don't feel the extra weight.

    That N+1 is still being researched and I do realise that it will take a bit of time and possibly a few part changes to sort the bike for me. I know the size I want and the grade of components I would like. I like to have the bars a bit lower than the saddle and that can be sorted on the fit. Components and I may go down to Tiagra if cost limits the purchase but would prefer 105 as a minimum. Wheels and if the bike is cheap enough then a decent set of hand built's may be bought- or even go up to the Ultegras that are lighter and not much more.

    I am experienced enough a rider to know what is going to work for me- and when I sit on the saddle and have done a decent test ride I will know it

    But what is it that makes bikes work for you?
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  2. #2
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Besides fit, which you already have sorted out, I want it smooth and quiet (which implies a lack of excess friction, and good quality components), I want it to be stiff yet not transmit vibration, and I want it light.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    My legs?

    Seriously, I have 4 bikes, 2 of which get the vast majority of miles. The two which get the most miles are both custom built steel frames.

    I have been doing a challenging charity ride for several years now - it covers 450 hilly miles in 4 1/2 days. The first few times I did it, I rolled into the finish as one hurting puppy. For my first custom frame, I told the frame builder that I wanted a frame which would be comfortable for long days in the saddle at a pretty good clip. I wanted a fast bike, but was willing to sacrifice some speed for comfort (a tradeoff which becomes more important with each year I put behind me). The first year I had that bike I rode from Montreal to Boston, and when arriving in Boston, felt like I could have gotten back on the bike and ridden back up to Montreal - it was great.

    My second custom bike was done when I decided to give up my car, and make the bicycle my primary mode of transport to/from work. I had a purpose built commuter designed for me, and have never regretted it.

    Fit is by far the most important parameter, and you can't do better than a frame that has been designed and built for you. As time goes by, you can upgrade components, wheels etc, but the frame is the foundation for everything else.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Spike, HMMM, I have to wonder if you're thinking about a style of bike you don't already have?

    Brad

  5. #5
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    Boy am I way, way out of synch with you pros. You say a bike "doesn't work for you" unless it has certain components. I wonder if you jumped on a bike with all the component labels removed if you truly would be able to tell the difference? I say that because when I was bike shopping I got tired of the LBS telling me the difference between different setups was "better materials". Come to find out the "better materials" were required because lower weight meant less material so stronger needed to be used. Mind you a few ounces one way or the other, to this person, seemed to be mostly a mental thing for all but the most competitive cyclist. Never mind those ounces can, for most people, be obtained by better physical fitness.

    So, what works for me? Any bike upon which I feel comfortable and with which I can have fun. Which specific bike that is can only be determined by riding the machine. I suggest that should be the case for everyone except the competitive rider. I don't mean the rider who is a competitor in their own mind; but one who is truly a contender.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Boy am I way, way out of synch with you pros. You say a bike "doesn't work for you" unless it has certain components. I wonder if you jumped on a bike with all the component labels removed if you truly would be able to tell the difference?
    When I took my wife shopping for her road bike a few years back, she didn't know the difference between Sora and Dura Ace (actually, she still doesn't) but she saw a night and day difference between the Sora and Tiagra level bikes she test rode and the Ultegra-equipped one I ended up buying her. The better components felt better to her. A lot better. Not scientific but it isn't just about the labels.

  7. #7
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Besides fit, which you already have sorted out, I want it smooth and quiet (which implies a lack of excess friction, and good quality components), I want it to be stiff yet not transmit vibration, and I want it light.
    +1 especially the bit about not transmitting vibration

  8. #8
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    To me bikes are a lot like golf clubs. I guess that I could play a whole round with a 5 iron by using it for every shot and could ride a mountain bike about anywhere. However if I golfed, I would choose to have a club for the different shots I'll be taking and try to select the shafts, grips and heads with a cost/benefit analysis. I would also be limited by my wife as to how many clubs I have in the bag just like I am with the number of bikes hanging around in the garage and basement.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  9. #9
    tsl
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    Plays in traffic tsl's Avatar
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    What works for me is that each one of my bikes has its own personality. They (finally) all fit the same and I'm positioned the same on all four. Although they each have a primary role to fulfill, there's a good bit of overlap between them. I'll ride any of them to work (and I do), or on a club ride (and I have). While any of them would work on a century, two of them would work better than the others. Each brings a little something different to the table.

    The Portland just oozes confidence and competence. Right from the first mile of the test ride, I knew that the bike would go wherever I pointed it, without complaint or fanfare. In the ride and handling department, it's the bike equivalent to an S-class Mercedes. Handles like a sports car, rides like a sedan, feels solid as a bank vault.

    YellowBike is frisky. It reminds me of a puppy. Open the door and it shoots out. All it wants to do is run and play. That bike wears me out.

    Blue Steel is a bit of a dichotomy. It's a crit bike--handles like one, and performs like one. It's a real hoot to ride, particularly in the cut-and-thrust of city traffic. But the bike's personality is all happy and sunny. It's just as content to poke along in the single digits. And it climbs like the dickens.

    I named the Litespeed "Jeeves" because it completely disappears, then when it's needed, it's right there, having anticipated my needs. It has a reserved, understated way of communicating, much like the stereotypical English butler. It's quiet in the main, but when the road goes "BUMP!", Jeeves reports, "Pardon me sir, but there's a bump. All over now. Sorry to have bothered you." Although it has yet to bring me tea.

    So for me, it's not what components they wear (there's everything from Sora to Dura-Ace in the mix). It's not that they're all fast, or all handle well, or all ride nice. It's not their sizes (56, 57 and 58 are represented) or their geometry (that's all over the map) or their material (two are aluminum, one steel, one titanium). It's their certain intangible "personalities" that makes me like them.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  10. #10
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Interesting question, interesting replies.

    There are so many dimensions to the answer that it is hardly answerable. I'd say it must fit, which is to say the body must feel comfortable in that position and over those roads. My bikes are all steel and old, but after I'd set them up to be comfortable I measured the setup of each and discovered I'd set them up very much alike. I can ride the Gran Sport for 75 miles easily. I rode the UO8 for 25mi/round-trip commutes all summer and it made me happy.

    The bike must be able to answer its required use. To that purpose I've chosen my own gears (compact double, 2x6 for the GS, 2x5 for the UO8) and my own wheel and tire combinations, and my preferred carrying capacity of a medium-sized, soft-shell handlebar bag (and panniers on the UO8), and my choice of saddle. The commuter has generator-driven lights so I never ever worry about being caught by the dark. Neither bike is a super-lightweight but neither feels too heavy to ride (I've lightened the UO8, of course).

    It must look good so that I like seeing it. One can't ride with one's eyes closed.

    And if they feel good while I'm riding then they are just right.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  11. #11
    Man of constant sorrow Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Comfort, comfort, comfort.

    If my neck stiffens up, the ride is over, at least as far as enjoyment is concerned.

    The answer: that which name must not be mentioned.
    Possunt quia posse videntur. St. Dudel: Epic is stupid that you get away with.

  12. #12
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    For me, a new bike needs to have a unique purpose among my stable of bikes and then it must be ideally suited to perform that function in the way I want it to be done.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    What makes you bike work for you?

    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    ... It's their certain intangible "personalities" that makes me like them.
    Nicely written, tsl. I only have two bikes, a Bridgestone RB-1 steel frame for good conditions, and a beater Cannondale mountain bike with studded tires and fenders, soon to have disc brakes. The Cannondale, bought used as a good deal because it fit, works because I am confident and comfortable on it in any weather. I bought the Bridgestone because at that time it felt good on a brief test ride and it fit. It occasionally really proves its mettle on a long ride when I come to the state where I recognize that I "become one with the bike"; certainly an intangible, but recognizeable state. Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer is reported to have said that on a good day, he could see the stitches on a pitched ball, and that's I guess my cycling equivalent of feeling one with the bike.

    I am always thinking about getting a carbon fiber bike, and I do wonder how I will recognize those intangibles on a test ride. My shop does rent CF bikes, so I will first rent one for a long one-day ride to see if they are worth the price.

  14. #14
    Still spinnin'..... Stealthammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    What works for me is that each one of my bikes has its own personality......... ........It's their certain intangible "personalities" that makes me like them.
    +1

    The Salsa Campion is stiff and very responsive, and it handles with a quickness that I really appreciate in a road bike, yet it is comfortable enough to ride for 8-10 hours without causing me discomfort.

    The Pake fixie is single-minded and simple, and there is a tranquil quality to the riding experience that is best appreciated when riding alone.

    The Serotta T-Max Commuter is just a gas to ride anywhere at anytime and it draws a crowd at every stop which makes riding it a bit of a social experience even when I am riding alone.

    The Fisher Opie inspires me to disregard any rules or limitations and to play like a kid again. By reconfiguring it, it works great as a Freeride MTB, an Urban Assault "play bike", a Trials bike, or a Winter commuter that can take on even the worst weather we encounter.

    The Redline Monocog SS 29er is a dedicated trail/woods bike that excels at the one thing it was built to do, and I can confidently "ride it hard and put it away wet", until the next ride.

    Each is like a good friend that I share very specific interests with, but none of them really share anything with any of the others, but no matter which one I get on at the beginning of a ride, each one really defines the type of ride we will be doing.
    Just your average 'high-functioning' lunatic, capable of passing as 'normal' for short periods of time.....

    “The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” - Albert Einstein

    “We all know that light travels faster than sound. That's why certain people appear bright until you hear them speak.” - Albert Einstein

  15. #15
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    My Masi Gran Criterium works for me 'cause my gf bought it for me for a 60th birthday present. I can't look at it without thinking of her.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #16
    Semper Fi qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Stapfam,
    Have you given any thought to doing a build on your choice of frames so you get the geometry you like, the correct component for each application (triple crank, compact double, road double, stem and bars......) and the details you prefer on you road bicycle. Just a thought. Merry Christmas and a bicycle riding New Year.

    Bill
    Philippians 4:13

  17. #17
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    Stapfam,
    Have you given any thought to doing a build on your choice of frames so you get the geometry you like, the correct component for each application (triple crank, compact double, road double, stem and bars......) and the details you prefer on you road bicycle. Just a thought. Merry Christmas and a bicycle riding New Year.

    Bill
    Done this on both frames. Bought as Frame and forks and built up. Boreas and I test rode the owners bike and he has the same frame size as me. Got the parts sorted to give a light bike and parts were sourced for Known quality and necessity---And I kept an eye on cost. At the time this was a $5,000 bike and it has proved itself time and time again. On the TCR- I test rode a TCR-3 and liked it-----but the shop had some lightweight TCR-C frames in stock I bought a TCR-3 bike and transferred all the parts onto the lightweight frame getting a good price for the TCR-3 frame. The bike I finished up with was not the same as the bike I test rode. The frame is stiffer and I put Mavic Aksium wheels onto it. Stiff frame- stiff wheels and my weenie weight of 150lbs and it was unridable. Eventually got it sorted by putting the hand-built wheels onto it. Then later changed it to a triple to give me an alternative for the longer hilly rides.

    But like most- test rides prove whether a bike is going to work for me. There are certain criteria I look for before buying and top tube length is one of them. Frame size is not that important as They vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Providing the TT is around 535mm- then I am in the right region. The other I look for is seat tube angle. I have a marginally short thigh so I look for a 74deg seat tube angle. That will put put me in the right position over the pedals and an in-line seat post helps aswell--instead of the laid back version. The other thing I look at is wheels. Or rather I don't bother too much. I do not like OM wheels so will get a decent wheel in place- or use the OM wheels for Foul/ winter riding.

    Material and I am the exception to the rule. Maybe I have a hard ass- or too many years of mountain biking- but C.F.Does nothing for me. That lightweight Aluminium on Boreas I find comfortable. But test rides do prove the rule that most C.F. is stiff but compliant. It's just that Boreas suits me better. Then the components--Groupset and it is what you can afford to run to.--- But handlebars. They all vary in shape- and size and cost and weight. That is only one component so it can take a lot of time to find the bits to fit you.

    But that N+1 I want--I am looking at 3 bikes--A Cheap Pinarelo with Tiagra groupset--A Whyte bike CX bike. Whyte make top grade Mountain bikes and the cross is a new venture for them

    http://www.whytebikes.com/2012/bike_...dNo=W-1-037-12

    And finally the Giant TCX--Or a 29er--Or an MTB.

    Almost sold on the Whyte bike but test ride still to get.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  18. #18
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Besides fit, which you already have sorted out, I want it smooth and quiet (which implies a lack of excess friction, and good quality components), I want it to be stiff yet not transmit vibration, and I want it light.
    +1 In addition, I like a bike to be unique - such as a watch can be. All watches provide the time of day but some offer much more in terms of features, style and prestige. I like working on and cleaning my bikes. When I go for a ride, I like the chain to sparkle and the drive train to run silent. Many times, it is during the cleaning, pre-ride inspection and tuning of the bike when I really appreciate the finer components and their fit and finish.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  19. #19
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I use my steel Rodriguez fixie for just about EVERYTHING - commuting, errands, long rides, short rides, travelling. I've ridden it on the Burnaby indoor velodrome in its track configuration, and I rode it in Paris-Brest-Paris last August. Just about at the end of this year, I'm very close to putting 20,000 km just on this bike.

    What makes it work for me:
    1. It's sized properly - correct seat tube and top tube lengths and proper stem length and saddle height, determined by 40 years of riding.
    2. It's made of True Temper OX - I like to feel the bike vibrate underneath me; it keeps me fresh over longer distances.
    3. I ride it with a fixed gear most of the time. This keeps my legs fresher over longer distances.
    4. It was built with S&S Couplers - I can travel with it at minimal additional cost. On some airlines (Westjet) it's still free.
    5. It's a standard platform so I can continuously change and upgrade components without having to bother with proprietary components. I use two basic configurations: in winter, it's aluminum bars and seatpost, with Centaur-level brakes and older wheels. In summer, it's carbon fiber bars and seatpost, with Chorus-level brakes and lighter wheels for special occasions. The Chorus brakes will likely be upgraded to Record at some point, and then the Chorus stuff will join the winter configuration. I expect the Cane Creek 110 headset to last 110 years, as promised, and I'm seeing how long the F1 ceramic BB will go.

    I guess I'm just a contrarian; I find the notion of N+1 just plain silly & materialistic. For just riding around (no competition), most bikes will handle anything. And if it doesn't, then using that bike for that purpose will make you a stronger and more skillful rider.

    L.

  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Bike Friday Pocket Llama, disc brakes, rohloff hub, Trekking bars,

    IG hub so wearing my rain cape I don't have to look at the drivetrain,

    to know what gear ratio is Next.


    low top tube, so even when my hip is acting up,

    I don't have to swing my right leg over the saddle to get on.

    [It was an issue in the spring.. weight bearing on the left one]

    Hub Dynamo as its dark, early .
    this being winter solstice , that will slowly improve, now.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Since I've had 2 serious accidents this year, Mrs. Grouch refuses to ride the Screamer with me ever again. That leaves 2 choices: 1. give up tandemming or 2. buy new hardware.

    I have an opportunity to acquire a pre-owned Greenspeed recumbent, tadpole, tandem trike, complete with a custom trailer to haul it, at a favorable price. It's tempting but would create a variety of new problems to solve (like where to store it). Another option is to acquire 2 recumbent delta trikes that link together. The logic side of my brain likes the idea of linked deltas but they just sound heavy, slow, and grandfatherish to me.

    I don't even pay attention to what components come on new bikes anymore. Ultegra, Sora, who cares? It's only a question of time until I get the upgrade virus again.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    My two road bikes are both set up close to the same position. One's a Pedal Force generic carbon frame with left-over components and is my rain/backup bike. The other is a Cervelo R3SL with a carefully selected mismash of components. Shimano 7800 and 7900, ritchey stem, specialized seat, dead post, easton bars. It started out as an early R3 and the frame got upgraded to a later R3SL when the original R3 broke.

    I like a race bike that is comfortable and has sharp handling. I rode a Vitus 979 for a long time and it colored how I look at a bike's ride. The Vitus was famous for being noodly especially in the larger sizes, and had a steep steering angle. I don't need a super stiff frame- I'm not very heavy or strong. But I do like long rides so comfort is important. The R3SL is less stiff than the R3 was, and I could go for a bike that was even less stiff. But the R3SL's ride is pretty good, and it's light, so I don't need to get a different frame.

    To be honest, modern bikes are good and I'm not that particular. I could get used to a wide range of race bikes as long as they fit me.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Boy am I way, way out of synch with you pros. You say a bike "doesn't work for you" unless it has certain components. I wonder if you jumped on a bike with all the component labels removed if you truly would be able to tell the difference?
    I could; the components I prefer operate a little differently, sound different in operation. (And, it's not about labels, it's about function.)

    I'm likely the odd man out here; I don't ride skinny tires -- at ALL.

    A history of back injuries requires dual suspension, and that means MTB; I prefer them, anyway, more rugged and versatile. Bike weight is irrelevant, pretty much, when the rider tops 230.

    I have a very SHORT list of Shimano parts that I will ALLOW on my bikes: front derailleurs, XTR cables, Octalink cranks, and chainrings. I run SRAM triggers.

    Disc brakes RULE.

    Because I'm so big, and ride with some aggression, I need the frame to be tough, and that means long-travel.

    I have a new project on the drawing board for February, a Santa Cruz Butcher; it will serve me well for (hopefully) the next 4-5 years. (My last bike, actually resurrected and cobbled together to last UNTIL Feb., is a Jamis Dakar XLT, with 4-1/2 years and over 16,000 hard miles on it. Heck, I went through three wheelsets!)

  24. #24
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Boy am I way, way out of synch with you pros. You say a bike "doesn't work for you" unless it has certain components. I wonder if you jumped on a bike with all the component labels removed if you truly would be able to tell the difference?
    FWIW, I could probably not easily find the functional difference between my Dura Ace and my gf's Ultegra. But, when I look at the components (especially the chain wheels) the aesthetics jump out at me. That's important to me. One of the reasons I ride Ducati's rather than Suzuki's. Sometimes in the middle of winter I will go out to my workshop with a Carlos Castaneda book, a glass of cognac, and a cigar. I'll throw an opera CD on and read. Every once in a while I'll look at my Masi with Dura Ace and smile. Have done the same with my Ducatis. It's just another way of enjoying them. Function is a wonderful thing...form is a beautiful thing....together they can be bliss.
    Last edited by bruce19; 12-22-11 at 06:02 AM.

  25. #25
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    FWIW, I could probably not easily find the functional difference between my Dura Ace and my gf's Ultegra. But, when I look at the components (especially the chain wheels) the aesthetics jump out at me. That's important to me. One of the reasons I ride Ducati's rather than Suzuki's. Sometimes in the middle of winter I will go out to my workshop with a Carlos Castaneda book, a glass of cognac, and a cigar. I'll throw an opera CD on and read. Every once in a while I'll look at my Masi with Dura Ace and smile. Have done the same with my Ducatis. It's just another way of enjoying them. Function is a wonderful thing...form is a beautiful thing....together they can be bliss.
    IMO, the Shimano cranksets suck aesthetically compared to SRAM. I have a RED crank (with Quarq) on my Madone, and a Force crankset on my Gunnar. Everything else on both of them is Shimano. Well, the Gunnar has Cane Creek brakes.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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