Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Real World

I receive one of the popular cycling magazines as part of my LAB membership. This month, it consists of little more than ads masquerading as a buyer's guide. I especially liked this little gem about a new bicycle:

"...(It offers) the low-tech route to a plush ride, using tire volume (Vittoria 25mm Zaffiros) and geometry (a shorter top tube
and longer chainstays) to smooth the road."

Now, I'll admit that geometry has a profound effect on ride quality because I rode a track bike for quite a while, and the ride was punishing due to the frame's extreme angles. But the concepts of "plush ride" and "25mm tires" simply do not go together for a big guy like me! I weigh about 215 right now, and every time I get on a bike, I apply Ed's vertical crush test. Skinny tires are acceptable on my time trial bike, but for day-to-day use I like them a bit stouter. Potholes and railroad crossings puncture 25mm tires too easily. Most of my bikes are on 28mm tires.

So I'm not favorably disposed to the magazine copy. Someday, perhaps they'll do an article aimed at those of us who lust after a bike constructed of Columbus Max tubing. You know, the guys who look at a steel stem and think, "Gosh, I probably couldn't BREAK that!". They not concerned about a couple of extra grams. They avoid aluminum frames because they crack eventually, and given their weight, the frames will fail sooner rather than later.

I have a friend, a guy bigger and stronger than me, who worried that he'd break his new titanium frame. It flexes plenty on hard climbs, but he hasn't broken it yet. But I think about guys like him when an advertisment touts some light-as-a-feather component made of unobtainium. They really should give us big guys a chance to beat on them for a while, before pronouncing them good.


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