Friday Group Ride #319

Friday Group Ride #319

I am interested in where people’s conception of what a “bike” is comes from. That is to say, when you think of the bikes you want to ride, where does the image come from? Having the Tour on at home in the evenings reminds me that 10 or 15 years ago, I thought of those bikes, pro race bikes, as the archetypes for the sorts of machines I wanted to own. In retrospect, this was fairly ludicrous, since I don’t do much that resembles pro racing, but I don’t think I was the only one dreaming those dreams.

I have to confess that I have often fixated on frames that look good, disregarding their age and so their upgradability and weight. I put together a couple cool, vintage road bikes that were heavier than an anvil and limited in their ability to take modern componentry. It’s amazing how nostalgia can steer you down dark, dead ends. The bike I wanted ten years ago doesn’t need to be the bike I want now. Lesson learned.

The industry, or at least industry media, still runs regular features on the pro’s bikes. Those pieces don’t actually interest me much. There is some tech than will eventually find its way into production bikes, for sure, but mostly those bikes look like airplanes to me. And I don’t fly.

Now, mostly I’m looking at what my friends are riding. They’re smarter than I am. They are mostly leading me into new places and new ways of riding, so rather than thinking about what Miguel Indurain rode, I’m thinking about what Mike and Brad are on. Or Rob.

This week’s Group Ride asks, where are you getting ideas about the bike you want next? If you race, do you think it makes sense to covet the pro rides? If you don’t, who is showing you the way forward?

Image: Wikipedia/Darz Mol






  1. Andrew

    Well, the funny thing is that what I want (or actually just got) is pretty much what Indurain is riding!!! A classic bike, made of metal, that can handle all kinds of paved and dirt roads.

  2. Aar

    My ideas about the bike I want next comes from need. Right now, that need is a second road bike, commuting, touring or racing application. So, in this case, a typical “grand tour” or “gran fondo” geometry works for me. I really like the look of horizontal top tubes and I do not appreciate the aesthetic of compact geometry. So, I’ve gotta say that, from popular cycling culture, Eddy Merckx and Andy Hampsten, are inspiring my way forward more than any modern racer. That is, of course, in conjunction with the custom frame builder I choose to work with.

  3. Bfeltovi

    I was a Rivendell cultist for a while and I’m always interested in what Jan Heine has to say. Grant and Jan have influenced my thinking about bikes for a long while. I don’t race, but I live in the mountains, so light weight and bigger tires make sense to me. That said, right now my main bike is kind of stupid: a LOOK 695 that can barely clear 25mm tires and has no fender dropouts.

    The big manufacturers have made some sensible changes with gravel bikes and Fondo bikes and endurance bikes. One of my friends just bought an OPEN U.P. and it’s a beautiful machine. I’m still not convinced I need disc brakes though. Or carbon wheels.

    I’m looking for my next perfect bike: room for fat tires (at least 28, 33 would be better), eTap WiFli (doesn’t exist yet), fender dropouts, straight tubes (no more swoopy lines for me). Probably carbon, probably custom.

  4. Lyford

    Here, of course! Nice insights into new products, and the coverage of the handbuilt show lets me see a lot of nice work that I otherwise wouldn’t find.
    Other online sources: Bike Rumor and Bike Radar for what’s coming, and Gravel Cyclist for my current interest. I enjoy reading builder’s ruminations on their work, a current favorite being the blog at 44 Bikes which also has great photography.
    It’s nice to look at classic and historic bikes, but I have no desire to own one at present. Current race technology is interesting but I don’t want a race bike.
    Other riders and local shops are a good source of information for what works in the local conditions.

  5. Tom in Albany

    I’ll be blunt and sing your praises as well. I’ve been taking RKP’s guidance on thinking about how “I” ride and how that translates to the bike. The thoughtful reviews that appear on RKP trigger thoughts that steer what I want. I want to be fast (for me) and I don’t ever want to have to stop (I commute) for repairs. I still want the bike to make me think I’m Greg Lemond – like my Schwinn did in the ’80s.

    I’m thinking of plunging into the market again after nearly 20 years on the same Serotta. What I purchase should be informed for how and why I ride as well as something that can keep me out of the market for another 15-20 years, maybe….

  6. SHG In Austin, Tx

    Despite my garage full of custom Spooky’s and Moots frames (as well as a couple of carbon thingies), my life will not be complete until I have a light blue Gitane just like the one that Laurent Fignon rode in the tour in the very early 80’s. Needs to have campy record on it and a yellow Selle Italia seat. Nothing less will do!

    One of these days I’ll find that sucker in some craigslist add and I’m going to be all over it.

    1. Mark Young

      Go to ebay and search Gitane..

      I just saw a bunch …not exact matches of what you are looking.for, but maybe close.

  7. 32x20

    What actually drives me to purchase bikes seems to be geometry and price point…I’m a little bit of a bottom-feeder when it comes to toys.

    For instance: my last road bike purchase was when I was racing a lot of crits and I realized that while my corner speed was pretty good, I couldn’t change lines very easily mid-corner due to low BB and slack-ish steering. I went looking for something with a higher BB, less trail, and at a low price. That bike (a Salsa Podio bought secondhand from a pro) did exactly what was intended. Now, I’m no longer racing crits and a quick handling bike doesn’t make much sense on longer rides and fast descents. I’m going to sell the crit bike and buy a used carbon CX machine for the slacker geometry and fatter tires that’ll allow me to race some dirt roads (gravel?) and challenge myself on the easier singletrack. Also, disc brakes have made canti-braked CX race machines very affordable!

  8. Scott G.

    I started looking at Bicycling Mag, then tried to find what people who don’t race, ride.
    Which in the 1997 was Rivendell, that led to Classic Rendezvous, and British club bikes
    of the 1950s and Chris Kvale. In 2005 I had Chris build me a road bike that would take
    Avocet 30mm slicks and Paul CP brakes. Riding at night and winter dictated bigger tires,
    now you’d call it a gravel bike.

  9. Stepen Barner

    I was a little stuck on the “heavier than an anvil” line. I’ve got a couple of 19 lb classic bikes with index shifting. They may lack 11 and 12 tooth cogs, which I don’t really need, and that may be 30% heavier than a carbon wonderbike, but the wheels are just as light out at the edge, where the weight actually means something, with their light rims and sewups, and they are much quieter than those on the $4k+ bikes others ride, which ought to mean more to cyclists than it does. I think the sound of a noisy carbon bike or of overly stiff pawl springs is the cycling equivalent of a loud exhaust on a motorcycle or a teenager’s subcompact. Sure, my newer bikes that have increased tube diameters do climb incrementally better than a steel classic, but this has little effect on the enjoyment that I get during a ride, or my ability to keep up with the group.

    But that’s not really addressing the question, other than that I think I’m all set in the road bike department and at this point I may never need to “upgrade”. Since I must ride several miles to get to pavement, and dislike driving to a start to which I could ride, every bike I have is a gravel bike, at least in terms of use. With that said, the hole in my stable (other than the lack of a fat bike, which I should really pay more attention to, but lack the room) is a dedicated dirt bike. The closest I have is a Gunnar Crosshairs, which is a nice, versatile machine, but not quite as light and snappy as a couple bikes I’ve seen friends build up, and I’ve been on a few logging road descents where the braking has been less than stellar. Some of that bike’s issues are my own fault, for dressing it up with fenders and a rack and outfitting it with cantilevers, but if I had room for another bike, I would likely be looking for something along the lines of a Trek XO frame that I could build up, or perhaps a more comfortable ti frame with a threaded BB and disk brake mounts.

  10. Jay

    The most recent addition to my collection of bikes is a handbuilt steel Spectrum. Since the fit and finish is so uniquely mine I don’t ride anything else most of the time. I still would eventually like a titanium road or gravel bike at some point in the future. I decided on a lugged steel frame because that is what I rode in my younger days. Oddly enough it was my quest for a titanium bike that brought me full circle back to steel.
    I do have some interest in the latest and best technology, but it isn’t what drives my decision making. I prefer chasing long lasting and reliable.

  11. winky

    I’m leaning towards more all-purpose bikes in steel or Ti as I get older. But I still love full-on carbon race bikes. Rivendell-style is three steps too far. I’ve read Grant’s book and he is on a different planet to me. For classic race bikes, Indurain’s Pinarellos and Fignon’s bonded Raleighs are fondly remembered. I liked Lemond’s fluorescent carbon TVTs and the Bottechia CS is of course legendary – my dream display bike.

  12. Laurie Schmidtke

    In the 5th grade I went with some other little boys on a neighborhood exploration sortie. I only remember the bicycle shop we visited, my first. The counter display was a shiny white bike with pink tires and polished metal parts. It was beautiful, delicate, graceful, light. I was told it was a road racing bicycle and I decided right there, that’s what I want and that’s what I want to do. Since then my bike of choice has been a current racing bike. My present frame was the team bike for mountain stages in the 2004 Tour.

    (Adlai was running for President then and the “pink tires” were probably natural rubber sew-ups.)

  13. Peter Leach

    The bike that I want next … probably fits into the ‘gravel’ mould. I prefer classical geometry and drop bars. I’d like wider tyres. I’m ambivalent about fender mounts (‘coz I’m not in to setting out for a ride if it’s raining). Ditto for rack mounts. I’ll probably look for disc brakes.
    I don’t race much anymore, so I don’t covet what the pros ride (my SST1.0 is ‘racy’ enough).
    I look to Darren Baum for the way forward.

  14. Cyril

    No Longer looking at the fancy bikes. My C-59 & steel IF get dusted off for nice weekend rides while most of my miles are done while commuting on my 2005 R1000 Cannondale. It is reliable and I do not worry about it falling over or getting beat up. A new 11 sp Groupo & wheelset do wonders. I do always stop at Wheelworks to chat on what is new on my ride home.

  15. nafik

    I always wanted to own the “best” handmade frame and the “best” production frame. Hence Richard Sachs 25th Aniversary (#14 out of 25 made) and Colnago C50.
    Both Campy throughout of course.
    Enough said

  16. Casey L

    I currently ride a Cervelo R3. I always, however, want to ride something better, faster, more aero, something that will push me. That is until I recently road next to a cyclist who was 21, going to community college 20 miles away and didn’t own a car, road a ~23lb 9 speed metal something which was in desperate need of a tune, pushing a 53/39 ring up one of the steeper hills around where I live… and he blew me away like I wasn’t even riding. Realized, less focus on the bike, more focus on the legs and the shape I am in. Bikes will always be there for wanting, but to push up the hill, I know where I need to start. (And in case anyone asks, waiting for Canyon bikes to be sold in the US).

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