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« The Ripple Effect | Main | Hand Magic »

Blogging, Bikes and Bullshit

Having a blog is in many ways like having a child. Conceiving it is the fun part; it can make you proud and bring a great deal of satisfaction. But as it grows you realize the hungry little bastard needs feeding all the time.

It is not that I have lost my desire to write here (Far from it.) it is that I am finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable subject matter to write about. I started this blog in the fall of 2005; that is seven years which is a long time as blogs go.

I have covered just about every technical aspect of the bicycle I can think of. One of the reasons I want to keep the blog going is because between 1,500 and 2,000 people come here every day to find the answer to some question about cycling or the bicycle.

Those who know me know that I hate bull shit, and there are mountains of bull shit spoken and written about the bicycle. The bicycle is such a simple machine, you push one pedal down and the other one comes up. How can you get over technical about something so simple? The modern bike with its sealed bearings, limited sizes, etc., has further simplified it.

Cycling is a joy; or at least it should be. However, it is not like golf, where you have a set of golf clubs in the garage and on occasions pull them out and go knock a ball around a golf course. Even if you play badly you will still get some measure of satisfaction.

If you own a bicycle, especially a road bike and you pull it out only once in a while; there will be no pleasure, just a whole lot of pain and suffering. Your arse will hurt, your back will hurt, and who knows what else will hurt. Cycling requires a minimum of dedication to reach a level of fitness where it becomes a joy and a pleasure.

In order to take up cycling, you need a bicycle; that is obvious. The problem is many never get past the “Ownership” stage. They fall in love with this beautiful machine and buy it; but then never dedicate the time required to ride it.

It is the reason many of the bikes I built in the 1980s come up for sale on eBay in near new, mint condition. They have never been ridden. The pleasure is derived from “Look at me, on my $10,000 bike.” Which is pretty shallow, when compared to the real joy of actually riding the bike, and it becoming a life long passion and commitment.

This year my ex-apprentice Russ Denny built me a new welded steel frame, with a carbon front fork. It is one of the best bikes I have ever owned. One reason is that it was custom built for me, designed so that I can ride in a comfortable yet efficient riding position.

I recently offered to go to my local bike shop and talk to a group of their customers. What I had in mind was to take the custom ‘dave moulton’ bike that I built in the 1980s, (Just as a showpiece.) along with my new Fuso bike and talk about some of the advantages of such a bike.

When I didn’t hear back from the bike store after a few weeks, I checked again, and was told this particular store’s clientele would not be interested, because “Quote,” “If it ain’t carbon fiber they’re not interested, in fact if it has round tubes they are not interested.”   

What the fuck does the shape of the tubes have to do with cycling? This is what I mean about bull shit. It is all about owning the latest high tech bicycle, regardless of whether that bicycle is the one best suited to that rider’s needs.

These are adults behaving like school kids, afraid not to have the latest fashions lest they be ridiculed and bullied by their peers. God forbid anyone should show up on a club ride on anything but the latest in bicycles.

This is what happens when large corporations take over an industry as they have done with the bicycle business. They build in obsolescence.

For 100 years, bicycle frames had round steel tubes, 1 1/8" down tube and seat tube, with a 1” top tube. It was good for at least 10 years before it became dated; longer if you updated the components.

Now you will be lucky if your bike will last two years. Not because it needs replacing, but because the style is outdated. Oh well…. That’s progress.



Reader Comments (47)

Dave. I have the same PROBLEM if you can call it that, when I ride one of my OldBrit bikes on the Parker trail. First of all, when I do of course all the hot shots pass me like I am going backwards. Young women really bug me, they are hell bent for breckie on there carbon thinges with aero bars etc. Then when I stop at a rest area park my 50-60yr old Hetchins with bent stays or the Bates with the bent front fork they look at the bike and say "what the heck is that?" I point out the hand cut lugs and the stays and fork try to explain the benefits etc, they smile and say "WELL HOW MUCH DOES IT WEIGH?" is it a light as my carbon wonder bike? PROGRESS? So like the old Brit cars handbuilt by skilled workmen that had took years as YOU DID to perfect there art NOW replaced by BLOODY ROBOTS! Just like to kids to day they CANT WRITE! everything is tapped in on a key pad. CANT SPELL NOT THAT I CAN! But they Google a word to see how to spell it. Adding machines! I learnt in school the times table that to this day I can for the most part remember. So whats the answer Dave? My son Paul is Airboss of a aircraft carrier they just took on board a UNMANED ROBOT controlled PLANE! have film of it taking off and landing ON a aircraft carrier! Joy sticks did the flying. Oh well at our age we DO have OUR memorys of times long gone to never be seen again

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Little bit of anger in today's post, eh Dave? Not to worry. I will say that I , for one, would love to have heard you make such a pitch at any of the LBS(s) here in the Boulder area. Too bad for SC. They blew it!
I've certainly spent money on bikes and am very pleased with both road bikes - Ti and CF. And my new in 2012 CF mountain bike. My previous mtb lasted me 12 years. My previous road bike, well I still have it: a 1987 Trek 520 touring monster. Whether it's writing or speaking it is always well to know your audience. There is an audience out there for you Dave; this blog proves that. Keep up the good work!

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

I do not place all the blame the dealer. This same dealer had previously told me that he did not even have to sell this well known brand that he stocked, customers have already made up their mind before walking in the store. So if someone walks in a bike store ready to spend $10,000 the store owner would be crazy to try to talk him into something else.

December 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

It's just consumer culture that's all. It's not confined to bicycle culture or even American culture. Age is also ruled out as my father just purchased a crabon something-or-other and rides it once a year, while I ride his old 1970s steel frame almost everyday. This disposable mentality is just a sad, sad by-product of capitalism being pushed as far as it can go.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEverett

Dave, did your proposed talk involve an A/B comparison of the two bikes (the Fuso and the Moulton)? I would be very interested in your perceptions of how the "modern" steel bike compares to a "classic" steel bike, both in structure and riding characteristics (perhaps a point-by-point comparison). I recently purchased a Gunnar, which replaced an late 80s Romic steel bike. I do feel the Gunnar is superior bike, but can't quite articulate how it's different. Perhaps this could be a blog topic? You'd have an appreciative audience here!

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Dave I love visiting your blog. I hope you continue writing. As for me, I just replaced my aluminum round tubes bike of 8 years, with another aluminum round tube bike. I don't know anyone that replaces a bike every 2 years, that is just a crazy way to waste $$.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Ah, well, Dave... I'd have loved to hear that talk, even though 90% (if I'm charitable to myself) would have gone right over my head. I have two road bikes; one that is mostly carbon and a compact double, the other a triple mostly not carbon with (gasp!) round tubes. I enjoy the heck out of both of them, and learn a bit about the differences trading them off on alternate rides. But, the bike I seem to be riding the most these days is a years and years and years old mountain bike with knobby tires because it seems to have the best geometry for having a long-legged sighthound leashed to my waist trotting alongside. We see and note every squirrel, every coyote, every large raptor, and on occasion a deer. We pace the runners, pass the joggers, talk to the dog walkers, and enjoy being outside. I'm certainly not getting any faster, but Tinker and I just love being out on the trail together. The beauty of a bicycle is it can match virtually every mood, every terrain, and serve many, many purposes. Maybe those folks with those $10K bikes they never ride need a different bike (and a dog).

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

I've seen this attitude in a lot of aspects of life....where ownership of the item is more important than the usage of the item. In the bike world, there are some people who do look down on people who ride classic or vintage bikes - to them, you cannot be a 'serious' rider if you're not riding a carbon fibre bike.

There are a couple of guys at work who are somewhat like that. They keep talking about how light their bikes are, and how fast they can go on them. They shake their heads at the bikes I ride in to work on every day (all steel frames). It's only when they realize that I ride more miles in a week than they do in a season that they get quiet.

Anyway, I try not to bother with what other people are doing. I like riding my bike, and I do so whenever I can (which is pretty much every day). If my bikes are too heavy for them, well it's good that it's me that has to ride them, in that case. :)

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

Why wouldn't these people buy the new plastic wonderbikes? They buy new cars before their current ones are even 10 years old. They've been brainwashed into believing only the latest models are good enough and safe enough. I'm not one of them. My newest car is 20 years old and my newest bike 30 years old. There's absolutely nothing in today's offerings in cars or bikes that turns me on. (Well, okay, if I had Crumpy's money, I'd also get a carbon play-toy.)

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B


I agree with the others here. These plastic bikes have little appeal to me. I ride a '76 Bianchi, an '84 Serotta/Murray and a '99 Serotta Ti, all wonderful bikes. To me, a carbon bike has no soul.
BUT, on the subject of the blog, I understand the "feed the beast" element. I wonder if you'd ever consider a Q-and-A format in which readers helped generate content. Many of us would love to pick your brain, hear your wonderful stories, and generally commune on bikes, art and life..
I echo so many others in how much I appreciate what you write.


December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTed

On a recent club ride I zipped up a steep hill past a young man 20 years my junior (and likely 30 lbs lighter than me) on his all carbon fiber aero bike with the latest SRAM Red parts, and carbon fiber deep rim tubular wheels with pricey continental sew-ups. Back at the shop, he looked at my 30 year old steel Trek training bike with ROUND Reynolds steel frame tubing, friction down-tube shifters, super record deraillers, non-aero brake levers and 28mm clincher tires and said "I guess your bike is more aerodynamic than it looks! (I almost fell over laughing)

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Its all about money! Kids to day seem to have just about everything they want. Go by any high school and look in the parking lot. Millions of $s in BMWs Porsches Mercs you name it. I get passed most days by a 13yr old gal riding a CERVELLO! In the dark ages that you Dave and I rode and raced, you rode your bike loaded to the gills with every piece of kit you could put on it. Come race day we stripped the bike down put on the sprints that we had carried on our bike to the start and off we went. To day people ride a bike the way they would race it. They dont have to have an old bike to train on they can or there parents can, afford to buy them the latest thing there is to ride every day. BUT Dave there is a market now for STEEL IS REAL AGAIN I see in the mags steel bikes now weighing 17lns or so. So all is not lost. My carbon Concorde is nice to ride and is a big help after 40 so miles every day then having to ride from 5200f to 6450f in three miles upto my house. BUT my Reynolds 725 Steel Mercian is a very close second. Of course it also does have a triple front. Even my 1951 Bates BAR climbs fine.But then my age is taking a toll.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

What the h344, 'tis the season to try and love one's fellow travelers, right?

What I had in mind was to take the custom ‘dave moulton’ bike that I built in the 1980s, (Just as a showpiece.) along with my new Fuso bike and talk about some of the advantages of such a bike.

You know, I was only half kidding when I said maybe those folk needed a different bike. I can imagine some of those folk might be too intimidated to ride these $10K bikes. Conspicuous consumption; someone wrote a tract a long time ago about tangible goods as status indicators.

I mean if you have not too much skill, and a very hot bike, it'd be apparent pretty quickly that your skill was outmatched by your equipment.

Funny story. The trail on which I ride has a discontinuous piece where they are running a culvert underneath the concrete. So, they've had concrete barricades up to slow folks down, you ride down a stony, sandy, dirt dip, up to the other side through two more awkwardly placed concrete barricades to reach the trail on the other side.

Spousal unit and I were riding a pair of Electra Townies (things are as long as a bus) when a rider in full kit, on a hot bike came up behind us bellowing ON YOUR LEFT!! He clearly meant for us to get the flock out of his way, quick.

I had to chuckle when he unclipped and dismounted at the first barricade to walk his bike through the rough section. Me and the spousal unit were able to navigate the barricades and the rough stuff on our Townies and we passed him at the bottom of the dip as we rode through. He wasn't quite as noisy when he passed us the second time.

It struck me as odd that he couldn't navigate that "inconvenience" on his road bike. If I can do it on my less fancy road bikes, it surprises me that with all his high tech, he couldn't. But, then, bike handling skill is different than the bike itself, and is something you have to learn. Which means you have to spend a little time *on the bike.*

So, it occurs to me that some of these folk trading these hot bikes every couple of years aren't (maybe) even cyclists, per se. The bike indicates something different; status, income, presence, position... and, maybe - just maybe - they're actually too intimated by the blessed things to, uh, ride them much.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

Dave, I love your blog. I love round steel tubes too. I "rescued" a 10 year old Surly Cross Check about a year ago. It rides great and that thing will last forever. Wish I could afford a fancy custom bike. Maybe some day. It'll be steel for sure. The Cross Check will do me til then.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

I have two road bikes. The oldest is 35 years old. It's steel. A Schwinn 10 speed. Bought it new, forked over $15 a week till I paid it off and could take it home. I love it and still use it. My newest bike is steel. A Surly LHT. I love it and intend to keep riding it till I fall off and can't get back up again. I don't care about the fashionistas or what they say about me. I love to ride. I love basic. I love durability. CF isn't durable.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.T.

This is a neurotypical trend "look at my stuff!" that knows no boundaries (it's not just bicycles) and perhaps evolved from mating display urges but it is played on by marketeers to boost sales which encourage conspicuous consumption (- and the boosts the economy if its calculated that way). Like a lot of things that are obvious once you recognize them, you wonder why others can't see it also. My favourite expression is that a lot of people go into debt to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like. A bit of knowledge is the best antidote for marketing bullshit. No Logo by Naomi Klein deals with branding, I suspect there is a little bit of magical thinking involved here too.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

Dave, there are more of us out there than you know. Keep up the good work, and I hope you realise that some of us seek more than the instant gratification of the latest gee-gaw. I'm not anti-progress by any means, but I won't be dictated towards in terms of what I should buy and when I should buy it. To me, the emotional and aesthetic pull of a good bike is important, but that's equal only to the joy of actually riding it.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOli Brooke-White

Second Tom's recommendation-request.

Two years ago I put together a steel frame bike for a close friend who recently started cycling as a XMAS present. He loves it and for another one of his homes he needed another ride. No great surprise, his local bike shop got him to buy a CF.

Now he wants to learn about bike maintenance and bought a stand for where the CF bike is located, but the CF doesn't fit! There must be a simple solution for this, right?

Keep writing and please share your comments on how the FUSO compares to the Denny, thanks Dave.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

It strikes me that the shop may be concerned that you talking about bike design will irritate their suppliers.

Folks wishing to know about the effects of varying bike geometry are not likely to be making an spur of the moment purchases!

Ask yourself, if you were a shop owner, would you lend support to anyone who might come into your shop and tell all your customers that the bikes on the rack were the wrong shape?

I like your blog and I like to hear your opinions on frame design and all sorts of other areas cycling related. Even if frame design has not moved forward much, the art of selling certainly has!

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPBA

I agree, the new carbon bikes have no soul. A lot of ads on the bike make it look ugly. I really enjoy my two steel road bikes, one is my commuter. Its paint job is beautiful but you need to look really close to see its made by Seven Cycles. It gets more admiration than any other bike I've owned. The other bike is a little flasher because of the colors but Peter Mooney's name is only on the downtube not on every other surface.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErik Husby

Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bicycle Works says the same thing in the latest Bike Show podcast. The Gospel According to St Grant. Worth a listen at - http://thebikeshow.net/the-gospel-according-to-st-grant/

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick

I think PBA makes a good point.

Unfortunately the growth in popularity of the sport and pass time means that it attracts the Johnny Come Lately poser types to whom the importance of having the best machine is more important than the act of cycling. At the risk of sounding like the old fart that I am, the days of people getting into cycling in their youth, riding bikes for the pure joy that it brings and the desire to own the best contemporary equipment to enhance that experience, are long gone. The bike "industry" (it's not just a business anymore) needs access to the share of wallet available from the man in the street who will jump on the latest sporting band wagon be it Cycling, Golf, Running, Squash (remember that?), Tennis etc.. It will be interesting to see if LA's fall will have as detrimental effect on the popularity of the sport as his meteoric rise had on its popularity in the last decade.

Growing up in the UK in the 60's I always wanted cycling to throw off the Cinderella affliction. Beware of what you wish for !

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW

An idea for some future post would be to look at the classic place to place rides in the UK, like Lands End - John o'Groats, London- Brighton, Edinburgh - London both as iconic rides and from a roads record assoc (RRA) fastest.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW

I bet a more urban shop would fall all over themselves in delight to have you...if they had enough room in their cramped little space full of bikes (as tends to be the case)

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick

In the latest Bicycle Quarterly, Jan Heine and his associate tested two bikes: a custom steel randonneur bike with generator, fenders, front rack & handlebar bag, and downtube shifters, versus a custom Ti Lynsky with Ui2 electronic shifting. They were surprised they were able to ride the randonneur frame, 7 lb heavier, up a 3-minute hill as fast as the Lynsky. They concluded their increased familiarity with their randonneur bike offset the increased 3-4% power requirement of 7 extra lb (out of close to 200).

The moral of the story: a comfortable, well-fitting bike can be a lot more important than a weight difference of maybe 1-2 lb between carbon and light steel. Body weight varies by more than that even over a typical ride, let alone day-to-day.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdjconnel

Everett nailed it: Consumer culture.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlemmwinks

I think you have to blame the shop in question here as much as the customers. They have put their lot in with manufacturers and their massive marketing campaigns to drive buyers in a certain direction. Relatively new riders rely on their local shop and the glossy rags to educate them on what is important in a bike. Are you shocked that they aren't in a big rush to pop that little bubble. (I also suspect they are vastly under estimating the number of their regular customers who would be highly interested in this kind of talk and would reward the shop with more regular business if they were the kind of place that had this sort of thing going on.)

In general though, I also think you may be suffering somewhat from being in the road racing world. As I'm sure you know, there's an explosion of interest going on in steel frames, custom builds, comparison of various geometries/design methodologies, etc. It seems to focus somewhat more on the transport, touring, other non-racing world's at the moment. But certainly not exclusively.

I can name five shops within a couple miles of me that would die to have you come in to give a talk, even if they never planned to carry the type of bikes you'd be showing. But as other's have said, I think the cities are a few years ahead of your average suburban bike shop at the moment.

p.s. Please don't stop writing!

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaxUtility

No one yet has mentioned the minus of a CF bike. Dennis across the street about mid 40s age very strong rider, Six mths ago he got a new Serotta CF super duper. We where riding in a group up Vail pass Co. they let me go ahead due to my age! I heard a loud shout and looked back to see Dennis lying on the side of the road still clipped in. we all went to his aid, His Serotta was totaled! looked like the rear gear hanger or the chai stay had snapped, the rear gear went into his carbon rim wheel and folded in half! Now Serotta would NOT replace anything under the warantee said it was the fault of the Duraace rear gear shifting in to the wheel when trying to get a low gear for the climb.So Dennis was stuck with a bill for over $2k plus no bike for two plus months! Now of course this could happen with a steel frame, But the repair costs would have been half MAYBE? My son who races crits will NOT ride Carbon at all crash and you write if off!

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Carbon fiber is just a fancy word for plastic. Tupperware. Give me metal.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarge

I hope you continue posting. It's due to you that I was reminded how much I missed steel. After a few months of searching I located a 1980's steel frame that someone just gave to me. I thought long and hard about the build. Retro or modern. I do love modern tight gear range shifting so built it out with Shimano 6700 drive train. I considered this an affordable marriage of deeply discounted parts from Nashbar and a sweet find of a FREE vintage NOSBasso Gap Italian racing frame. It not only rides better than my modern Cervelo but shifts better than the bikes I owned and rode in the 1970's-80's.

I've also had the sweet satisfaction of knowing that a dropped chain would not eat my chainstay or a minor accident blow up my frame. I've witnessed some seemingly minor incidences render a carbon frame useless.

As to articles or things to write about --> what I needed while building this bike was knowledge on how to spread and parallel the rear dropouts, a tidbit to check the bottom bracket faces for parallel or even that modern external bearings fits quite nice&dandy on those old bottom bracket shells, not to mention finding out the hard way that modern skewers just don't provide enough clamping pressure & bite to hold a rear wheel in place on those chromed steel dropouts necessitating an e-bay purchase of vintage dura-ace skewers with d-rings for a retro look. Also, things like babying the inside of the frame with a little weigl's frame saver spray.

Not suggesting to turn your site into a vintage rebuild site, but a marriage of the old and the new. I know some diehards will be shocked at the use of modern Shimano components on a fine vintage NOS Italian racing frame, but it works, it rides beautifully and most important of all my Basso is on the roads many time a week and knocking down a ton of miles.

I leave this looong note with an observation of a local gentleman who has more money than sense. He has a >$10,000 bike with dura-ace electronic shifting and 3 grand worth of Zipp wheels on his bike. He wears only the most expensive Assos clothing kit and rides 1-2 times per month at an average speed of 15mph. Something is very wrong with that picture.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermangyolcur

As an "elite",exclusivist, proud cyclist, I think these phenomenons are good news.
Those shitty ass industries and capitalists seems to raise the wall to the sacred lot of cycling joy higher than ever.
all of steel bikes I ever owned were made of straight gauge tubing, never ridden a tubular, and currently using a sub 500$ bargain allumunium frame for commuting, randonneuring, and doing errands. However, how many people can dream of tasting the sweetness I felt every pedal stroke?

Damn I love cycling.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I just saw Alex Moulton of the The Moulton Bicycle Company passed away a couple of days ago and wondered if you had any relation or any dealings with him/them?

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Smoketoomuch

" What the fuck does the shape of the tubes have to do with cycling ? "
Brilliant !
Thanks Dave.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Dave. I did tell the Classic Rendezvous group that Alex Moulton was your Grand father and that you are going to inherit hs vast fortune! LUCKY MAN! Now what would you do with all that money at your age? NAAW Dave Just kiddin but I did tell them you are NOT related in any way.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Alex Moulton made it to 92 - an excellent run (as it were). His contributions to both the Mini-Cooper and bicycling are most noteworthy and will be historically remembered. Godspeed Alex.

Carbon Fiber is good stuff. I spent an awful lot of time atop a carbon fiber wing in an F-18 and even more time under carbon fiber rotor blades. It's hard for me to believe that carbon fiber could not be used for bicycle frames but it does have its issues - delaminating (the early F-18 wings were awful in that regard) and sudden impact failure.

My two bikes are steel and they work beautifully. The frame material wasn't as important as the fit and component selection. Someday I might even own a carbon fiber frame (gasp!). I ride to / from work five days a week and can be found traipsing in the Woodside Hills during the weekend. Summers find me about Tahoe and occasionally the Alberta Rockies.

Regarding the "Snow Cabin Charlies" who purchase incredibly expensive bikes, wear the top-of-the-line clothing, and bicycling 15 mph thrice a month; think of all the folks they're keeping employed. If they want to spend their money that way, good. Let them! We've plenty of folks like that in The Bay Area and our bicycle shops are all most appreciative.

Post edited by Dave. Alex Moulton died, not me. Don't need to be starting any rumors.

December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

Horses for courses Dave to a certain extent.

I am the proud owner of four different bikes-

Early 1990's Raleigh Chromoly rigid mountain bike- what I use to get to work in the snow or to run errands on.

2004 Cannondale R800- ex Sunday best bike but now winter training bike.

2008 (ish) Ridgeback Voyage touring bike (Reynolds 520 chromoly)- what I use to get to work when it isn't snowing or to run errands or do appointments at hospital etc.

2013 Wilier Izoard XP carbon fibre beauty. The new Sunday Best bike.

I love riding every single one of them equally. Each one of them gives me pleasure and helps me feel satisfaction when we overcome a hurdle- the Raleigh and I arriving at work through a blizzard having ridden 10 miles when folk who live a mile up the road fail to even get out of their front door, the Wilier getting me up a a climb without stopping that previously had me taking a breather, the Ridgeback and I arriving home at stupid o'clock after a 76 mile round trip to see an eye oncologist in London, the Cannondale and I beating the 50 mph barrier down an eye watering descent.

Folk that look down their nose at stuff that isn't 'State of the Art' and blingy need a bit of a slap!

Love 'n Stuff
fuzzy from the UK

December 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfuzzy

Great Article!!!

December 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaunchpad McQuack

I just read this post. A little belatedly, mostly because I've been very sorrily following the events of Friday, and breaking down in tears at the most awkward moments.
The bicycle has been my escape from reality for a few years now. Sure, I had a bike (single speed ESKA) when I was growing up in Greece, and I vividly remember the rides with my dad to the local fields (on hard packed dirt roads) to get the produce and the milk for the week. I also remember falling off on one of those rides, and my dad with all the concern in his eyes, but very sternly at the same time, telling me to dust myself off and get back on, because we had to get home.
Fast-forward to my senior year in college, when I would borrow my buddy's bike to go out with my friends for a long ride (all of 15 miles), doing it in shorts and tennis shoes, and marvelling at the imagined comfort the rest of my friends were in, riding in their lycra padded shorts. One of them had come across a barn stuffed with bicycles rescued from a burned-out shop. He managed to get a deal for me: $300 dollars for a lugged steel Miyata. Alas, $300 dollars for a bike was a luxury then, so I didn't spend the money...onward to the time I got my first job after graduation, living in one of the most cycle-friendly and active locale in SoCal. To the LBS I went, and I did spend that $300 dollars on a lugged steel TREK, with Ishiwata steel. Decent components, but no indexed shifting of the 6-speed freewheel. That was extra, and could not afford it. I loved that bike. I held onto it until very recently, when I gave it to my older brother in order to get him back into cycling. It was upgraded through the years to a 7-speed (WOW) indexed, Shimano 105 componentry.
So when in 2000 (or so) I came into a small monetary windfall, I searched long and hard, and found a right-size-for-me Italian frame (yes, still lugged steel); it was a Bottecchia, and I remember Greg LeMond riding one to win the Tour. I know his bike was only a re-badged custom creation, but still...I built up that frame myself. WITH CAMPY!!!! Could life really get any better?
After riding that for ten years or so (and aging, and discovering pain and discomfort in the lower back that unfortunately showed up in my almost 50-yr old body), I really graduated to a dream machine, which is sort of a mid-life crisis and my ability to spend some disposable income: a custom-made-for-me titanium bicycle, which truly fits like a glove. Not a brand new glove, but an old, weathered, perfectly formed to my shape glove. Sure, it's not Italian, nor does it have Campy on it (I went with SRAM), but it is sooooo much fun to ride...
And just like you, I usually get the '...so, how much does it weigh?'; and the 'you know, carbon is such a superior material, that's why everyone in the pro peloton rides it'...yes, I know the properties of carbon. I am, after all, a Mechanical Engineer, who knows his sh!t.
Dave, I never had the pleasure of riding one of your frames. I do, however, absolutely love my bike (the current one and the old ones, too) for what they do (and did) for me. Give me the freedom to smell the flowers on my early morning rides, without the scent of automobile exhaust and noise ruining it. I've enjoyed the flow of the endorphins after cresting that hill that I've never crested before. I've enjoyed the camaraderie with my cycling buddies, most of whom do double centuries while I struggle to finish a 60-miler, hauling my sorry big, fat a$$ up the previously mentioned hill...I only wish more people rode for the sheer enjoyment, freedom, and lessening of the dependence on big oil, and all the ills that brings with it.
Sorry for being long-winded; I enjoy reading your posts, so keep them coming. And keep the rubber side down!

December 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterP Vasiliou

Ignore those pudknockers. Nowadays, cycling has become a way to show off you bank account. I've been riding and racing the same steel bike for the last 10 years. It's a more modern frame that the traditional old school frame, with a 1-1/4 top and down tubes, but it's still all round tubes, with a traditional bottom bracket shell and head tube.

December 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrump

I ride a new, mid-level carbon fiber bike and I love it. (I got into cycling a few years ago...cycled as a kid but never competitively or seriously.) I love riding my bike and I love seeing other people riding bikes, regardless of the bike's age, material or style. It seems that some who are commenting here would assume that carry with me some attitude of superiority (especially if I passed them on a bike trail.) The reality is, if I see (or pass) an "old guy" (I'm in my late 30's) on an old bike I'm usually thinking, "That's so cool...I hope I'm that guy someday." In other words, on a bike I love and still riding.

I don't know...it just seemed like the implication is that if someone rides carbon it's assumed that it's only because they've been duped or are trying to keep up with the Joneses. It's not necessarily the case. (Or maybe I'm in a bit of a funky mood today...I dunno.)

And, for what it's worth, I too would love to attend a seminar like the one you describe above, Dave.

Oh yeah, and keep feeding the baby. :-)

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian makes a good point. Many of us grew up with lugged steel bikes and never had the urge to continually "upgrade" each time a new gimmick came along. But for someone younger, who goes to buy their first serious bike and all the better bikes available are carbon, it's a different story. It would be quite unusual for them to go out of their way and look for someone to build them a custom steel bike. How many people would order a restored 1960s muscle car as their first serious car?

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

I went back and read my post again. It would seem that I bagged on all the carbon frame riders (like Brian pointed out), by not expressly writing that this is NOT the only responses I get to my bike. I know plenty of people who ride carbon because it's what they wanted, what was available to them, and what fit their riding style/profile. No problems there.
It's the 'wanna-be racer' types that I refer to. The sort of person depicted in the 'Sh!t cyclists say' parody video...

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterP Vasiliou

Thanks for clarifying, P Vasiliou.

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

I have exactly two bikes that don't have round tubes. I have one bike with a carbon fork and aluminum frame. My favorite "road" bike is a 1970's Dawes Galaxy set up as a Clubman with a 4 speed IGH. I have ridden more modern bikes but they don't do a thing for me and my style of riding.

Unfortunately people are convinced that if they spend buckets of money it will automatically make them, better looking, faster, more desirable...or whatever the advertisers want you to think. They are weak minded and unable to think for themselves, and could care less about the history and design. From my observations all they care about is how expensive it was and how light it is for bragging rights.

I honestly believe that if you want to be "fast" on a bike, work on the engine first, then worry about the equipment. Once you pass a certain price point it is a exercise in diminishing returns.

I will be riding my old outdated round tube steel bikes until I no longer can due to physical infirmities. I had one great grandfather that was still riding in the wilds of Wisconsin well into his 80's. He died at age 87 when he fell off of the garage roof while putting up storm windows. I hope to live as well and as long.


December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter2whls3spds

Late to this one. Need to read stuff like this from time to time. At 64, it feels a little lonely being passed by the CF peletons, mostly 30 years younger. Credentials of commuting in the 70s with an MSR hemispherical yellow basin on my head, along with 10 others (estimated), in Sydney, (a big burgh), count for nought, really.
Great blog entry, Dave.
Hope the link isn't too long, for any who want a quick squizz at a steel beauty, my regular ride, hand-built by Keith Davis, Canberra, '87.


December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul (Australia)

It's clear that some education would be helpful. I occasionally go on group rides organized by a local shop (that concentrates on modern CF bikes) and keep up with the "medium" group just fine on my old steel bikes. One woman looked at my Hetchins and asked if it was carbon fiber. ??@#$??

December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Road toad sob story abbreviated version: my excellent bike was stolen, my back-up bike proved more than worthy. For what? For getting down into the valley to work, and back up the hills, home. Me? My routine changed. Double sessions 5 days a week I got fitter and better than ever, under 45 miles. So much so that the local college team would slow enough to let me hang with their pack up the hills, and so much so that I was able to catch the guys my age. On my 1973/4 Raleigh Competition. With rear rack and panniers, 1 1/8 @ 27". Yes, I had an upper limit of range, but within that limit, that old nag carried me without a hitch. Spin matters. Steel is real. "Late for an argument!" I'd say: "Don't follow me!" to my peers, salute, smile, then find the 52 to lead then out for the last few miles. Home.

December 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Leonard
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