Eight weeks ago I purchased my 2009 7.2 FX an 18-20 mile round trip commute and weekend fitness riding, based on forum research and my LBS's recommendation. This is my first bike since adolescence. I am 26 now, and although not in "shape", I am athletic. While riding almost daily, it has taken the entire eight weeks of persistent research to convince myself that my bike will not hold me back on my commute and as I develop as a cyclist.
I am happy now, but for a while I was frustrated. Do I need drop bars?!? Is my bike too heavy?!? Will the entry-grade drivetrain/wheels slow me down?!? Oh noes my folk is hi-tensile steel!!!
This forum has been instrumental in learning all I have thus far, and it is full of knowledgeable and helpful people, for which I am very appreciative. It's good to live in the internet age! However, it seems that, innocently, much of the advice given is tailored towards what is optimal...often without explaining that easier/cheaper/different/suboptimal alternatives aren't that bad (at least for the new cyclist). The 80% solution explanations are out there, but are less abundant.
I was finally able to convince myself that my 7.2 is ok, after hours and hours of forum searching, by doing some cycling physics learnin' to cap it off. It appears that speed (velocity) is primarily affected by wind resistance, followed to a lesser degree by rolling resistance, and distantly followed by other minor attributes. Weight only impacts acceleration and climbing, essentially...which are not primary considerations for me. Even if they were, at 155 pounds a 10 pound decrease of the bike (going from my 30 lb'er to an expensive 20 lb'er) is only an approximate 5% reduction in total weight. Does it really make that much of a difference when riding only 30-120 mins? On the other hand, does weight matter much at all for someone significantly heavier?
My bike is "heavy" and the flat bars keep me too upright it is said. So what! Put some 700x28's on, lower the stem (the 7.2 has 3 spacers), put some bar ends on angled aggressively, and go clipless (or at least clips). I can cruise on flats in the 18-22 mph range, have hit up to 27 mph on the flats, and have TONS of gear left. My bike isn't holding me back, my body is. I begin my daily peddling commute in the next 2-4 weeks, and expect to be a much different rider in a year or so.
Is the 7.2 the perfect bike for me for the next 10 years? Of course not. Would my wife have allowed me to spend $1000-$1500 on a more ideal one without prior knowledge that I would become obsessed with the sport? Of course not (neither would I). Could I have gotten more bang for the buck with a used gem? Sure. Are those easy and timely to find, in the right size? Nope. In a year or two, I am sure I will sell this or upgrade the snot out of it. I have already extensively researched that future procurement and can't wait
My aim with this post is not to incite any flat bars vs drops debates, to tell anyone they're wrong, or the like. I also do not expect that I am 100% right, and there are of course different strokes for different folks. I just wanted to relay the experience of my first couple months of cycling, researching, upgrading, and performance for those in a similar boat. Now if I have mis-characterized anything or you disagree with any of my points, by all means have at it! I still have much to learn In the meantime, I can't wait to start commuting!