Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Buy A New Bicycle OR Upgrade A Good One You Already Own???

"It's depressing when a butterfly passes you going up hill." -B.M.

A choice between two good things can be, and often is, difficult.  In looking back at my decision to upgrade my Vitus and my Cannondale bicycles, I can look at the costs associated with doing that and ask myself why didn't I just buy two new bicycles.  The first obstacle would be my wife, rightly so.  Owning two very good bicycles that would be even better bicycles when upgraded, I would have had a hard time convincing Eileen to let me spend about $7,000 or more to upgrade to some stupendously great new bikes.  She would have been a hard sell.  Well, maybe if I convinced her that she could also buy a new fiddle?  Naw, wouldn't fly.  And I don't know that buying the newer bikes would have been a better deal.  Bikes, as a rule, don't gain in value as they age.  They lose their value even faster than driving a new car off the dealer's lot.  Sure, some are valuable for many reasons, but most don't have what it takes to gain in value.

Knowing that the old bike rejuvenated or purchasing a new one would leave me in the same place I was in, owning two good bikes, I opted to upgrade.  Sure, I could've gone for a hand built, custom bike, but those cost even more.  Gordon, Waterford, et al, can do a semi-custom built bike for less and I'm certain they're sweet bikes.  BUT...and it's a costly but, are they really, in the long run, better and more comfortable, overall, than a production bike?  Or more comfortable than the one (or more) that you may already own?  There are those who swear by custom built bikes.  My thinking is that they're swayed by the fact that it's "custom" and, because of that influence, they truly believe the bike is better.  Perhaps, if you're a racer or someone who spends an inordinate amount of time on a bicycle, you can readily tell the difference.  Hey, I was raised on cheap, high fat hamburger...first time my Mom bought some good, low fat hamburger meat and tried to serve it to my brothers and I, we all spoke up for the cheap stuff.  Why?  Because that's what we were used to.  Perhaps a poor analogy, but the bikes I have are decent and I'm used to them and, to be honest, they both feel even better riding them now than they did before I upgraded them.  Go figure.

Two years plus ago, I got a smokin' deal on a Shimano Ultegra groupo (that normally sells for about $1400+) out of Northern Ireland that I could not turn down...$730...for everything except new wheels.  To not exclude the local bike shop, I bought Ultegra wheels from them and had them put the new components on the Vitus.  What a difference in performance!  I thought I was riding a brand new bike.  Over the past two years, I upgraded the components and other parts of my Cannondale ST-800 touring bike and got a new powder coat paint job done on the Cannondale.  I took the stem from the Cannondale and put it on the Vitus which then gave me a slightly more upright position on the Vitus that I really like much better.  On the Cannondale, I installed a new Nitto Dirt Drop stem
Nitto Dirt Drop Stem
that really gave me a significant rise in my position on the bike.  I liked it.  Additionally, I put new Shimano Deore LX cranks
Shimano Deore LX crankset
with a 26-36-48 chainring on the Cannondale and a 11-34t cassette on the rear.  Again, what a difference!  Climbing was even easier with this setup.  Additionally, I had new wheels built using Phil Wood hubs
Phil Wood Touring Hubs
and Velocity Dyad rims.  Strong wheelset capable of handling any touring that I'll do.
Velocity Dyad Rim
As an extra upgrade, I also bought Brooks leather handlebar tape.
Brooks Leather Handlebar Tape
Much better than the padded, synthetic material that most bar tape is made of.  As soon as the tape on my Vitus wears out, I'll replace it with the Brooks leather tape.  My Cannondale now looks and feels like a new bike from the ground up.  Sort of like when you got new sneakers as a kid...you knew that you could run faster in those new sneakers, didn't you?  Same thing with an upgrade...and, in this case, it's most likely true and not just your imagination.

Everything else that was on the Cannondale and the Vitus was reused.  Anything that was left over, I gave to the Community Bike Works for them to use with kids in the community who learn to build and repair bikes plus learn how to ride their bikes properly from Dave Baker, who manages the Community Bike Works.

So, upgrade or buy a new bike?  Tough choice.  I had a lot of emotional attachment to my Vitus and Cannondale bikes, so upgrading was the easier choice.  I'd purchased them brand new and was the sole owner.  Know these bikes like the back of my hand, y'know?  Do I still drool over those custom, hand built bikes?  Hell, yes.  But, when I'm on one of my bikes out on the road, I like the way it feels.  And I usually get asked about my "antique" bikes, too.  Sweet.

Now, a tune to get the hell out of here.  It's Friday and I have to do my houseboy chores...dust, vacuum, mop the floors, etc., else the wife might throw me out to the dogs.  Gotta earn my keep..!  The Rolling Stones doing "Can't Get No Satisfaction".  One of the top 10 instantly recognized guitar riffs in the world (thanks to my nephew, John).