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Old 08-11-06, 03:18 PM   #1
Time for a change.
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Location: 6 miles inland from the coast of Sussex, in the South East of England
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Quality of bikes.

A recent posting by hopedalehills got me thinking. Those of us that have been in cycling for a while have gradually upgraded our bikes till we have something respectable. Some of us have the money to get a Good bike relatively soon after starting- but then there are the others. The newbies, the tightwads and those that cannot warrant or afford the cost of a top rate bike. It is those that got me thinking about my bikes.

First of all I have the tandem and this is my serious steed. Has been upgraded for my offroad riding and has had, and still needs, wads of money thrown at it to get it suitable for my type of riding and to keep it running. We are more expensive in the UK but I estimate that to replace this bike now would cost me around $8,000. Then there is the Bianchi Mountain bike and this cost me around $1500 5 years ago. Still has money spent on it to upgrade and keep running but it will do me for a few more years yet. Then the recent aquisition, the Giant SCR 3.0 road bike. Not a model you have in the US yet but is the lowest model in the range and cost $750. All these bikes get used regularly and all are suitable for me and the use I put them to.

I have a good range of bikes that quite a few would be proud to have but I was not always in that position. When I started in 1990ish I started with a second hand bike for $80 It proved to me that I liked biking so I saved up for a better bike. Finished up with a Trek 820 and to be honest, other than the lower gearing, it was not better than the $80 one. Still kept me riding and eventually I got a Kona Explosif. Now this was a good bike and it proved itself over the next few years.

Daft thing is- I did not need the Kona until I had been in the sport for a few years. Although it was a superb bike, if I had started with this bike I would still have been walking up the hills. Legs were not strong enough. Could not have gone downhill as fast as I do, because that does take skill that takes a few offs and heart stopping moments to learn. And I would not have been able to start on the long distance rides that I prefer and train for continually, because I did not have the overrall bike fitness.

Do we need to spend a fortune on a bike nowadays to be able to enjoy cycling? If you are into a particular niche- like road racing, continually doing 100 mile rides over hilly terrain or very serious mountain biking then I would say yes. These specialist bikes can take everything you throw at them- providing you don't abuse them and will do the job better than a cheap version of the same. You still need the years of riding behind you to aquire the skill and fitness to ride them, but when you get serious about some form of riding, the expensive higher range bikes are warranted. That is why I have my Offroad Enduro machine- the Tandem, this why I have a good Mountain bike, and it is also the reason that I only have a Cheap road bike. I ride offroad as my preferred form of riding and in the Tandem I now have a top end bike. The Bianchi was a top end mountain bike when I got it although a bit dated now- the quality of it still shows through. Now back to that road riding- I do enjoy it but it will never give me the thrill of cycling on our local hills with everything that the weather can hit us with. I use the road bike as a form of exercise so why spent the kids inheritance on a bike that does not warrant it (The inheritance has already gone on the tandem). In fact- If I had not felt so Lazy- I could have got the two road bikes I already have in the shed up to scratch. Would probably have cost me about $100 but I just felt lazy when the need for a road bike came along.

In a way I envy hopedalehills. He is going to enjoy his riding as much as the rest of us, but he has had the sense to look around for a bike that suits him down to the ground- did not cost a fortune, and will probably ride aswell as my Giant. And for around 1/3rd the cost.

Well done hopedalehills.
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Old 08-11-06, 04:10 PM   #2
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It is about the ride, sometimes the bike

Excellent musings, Stapfam.

When I'm riding, it is the ride that I remember, not the bike. In our materialist culture, often it is difficult not to apply the constant urge to consume to one's chosen recreation or sport. There have been many postings in this forum & others about the experience of being dropped by, dropping, helping, ignoring other riders whose trappings have all the hallmarks of the consumate consumer. And some connection made between the quality of bike/clothing/equipment and the other person's behavior. There is actually a term given for this but I cannot remember it.

Your evolutionary approach to riding began with a modest investment and has borne fruit. It is interesting that you refer fondly back to that first $ 80 bike and I would venture to suggest that this fondness is not because it was a modest purchase but because of the experiences it brought you. Your tandem brings you a different level & quality of experience and is important enough to you that you've invested seriously in its components, quality & safety. Your MTB has received the same careful attention. Your venture in road bikes has started that same evolutionary path. Whether it becomes your first love and gets the same investment, only experience riding the roads will tell the tale. But these machines bring so much to us that it is difficult not to at least occasionally anthropomorphize, tweak, relate each bit that works, breaks, falls off, threatens or increases our pleasure. That's why I read Bike Forum, for instance, since I can learn so much about everyone else's machine(s) without having to own them all myself, something I'll probably never be able to afford.

At a certain age we learn what makes us happy & satisfied [or we miss that lesson, sadly]. If riding a poor, fair, good, excellent or superb bike provides any one of us with that happiness then more power to the one wise enough to recognize that source of pleasure.

thanks for such a thoughtful posting
They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.
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Old 08-11-06, 09:35 PM   #3
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Interesting thread Stapfam. I've been back into cycling about 2 years, but the first year I spent hacking around on an ancient Raleigh Record. I discovered Mountain Biking last year. Now I have two mountain bikes, a hardtail and a dual suspension. Total investment, about $1600. When I decided to do some road riding, for exercise, I went the garage sale route. I now have a Cannondale SR500 and a Fuji Club. Total investment, $160. I can't justify a larger investment because the Cannondale is the ideal bike for me and fits perfectly. Also, I only road bike for fun, but my true enjoyment is mountain biking. So that's where the cash goes.
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