Saturday, April 07, 2007


I'm thinking about getting a new bike. It's a tough decision because I don't NEED a new bike. My old bike works well and feels pretty darned comfortable riding.


I was out and about yesterday, and rather than grade, I went to the three basic bike shops in town and sat on all sorts of bikes. Then I went home, changed into long johns and biking tights, and went and tried out a bunch of bikes at one of the shops. All in all, it was an educational day.

I was looking mostly at Trek bikes there, though I also tried out a couple others (a LeMonde or two). I tried out the women's specific bikes and the standard bikes (the women's specific bikes, I learned, have a little shorter top bar, and slightly narrower handlebars); I tried out the Pilot (comfort model, with the handlebars a little higher) and the regular street set up. I tried them in different sizes.

It was almost scary getting on them because they felt so fast, just starting off, very fast. Happily, the shops are all right near the bike path through town, so I could take a fair test ride without too much hassle. And wow, all of them felt so smooth, I can't even describe it.

(I've only driven sporty cars a couple times, once an '83 Mustang on the freeway. Anyway, that's the closest I can compare: my bike's like driving a Valiant and these bikes are like driving a Mustang. The Valiant worked perfectly well and was a pleasure to drive, but the Mustang was a world apart in terms of fun.)

I have to think hard about this, because, again, I don't NEED a new bike. But a new bike would add to my fun.

And then which kind? I tried 54 and 56 cm bikes, and want to try a 52 cm bike (though they didn't have any on the floor that day).

There's a lot to think about. Sizes, styles, components and such.

I learned a LOT. I couldn't figure out what was weird about a couple of the bikes, so I got on my old bike and within a few seconds, I realized that the handlebars were narrower. The bike shop guy measured different ones, and indeed, they were. It's amazing how much difference a couple centimeters can make in handlebar width. I never even realized drop handlebars came in different widths.

It took me a while to get the hang of shifting with the gears on the brake pedal things, but I ruled out one kind of shift because you have to have your hands up rather than on the drops, and I tend to ride on the drops.

On one of the standard bikes, my fingers could barely reach to pull the brakes. Turns out the distance you need to reach to the brake levers is bigger on standard bikes than on women's designed bikes. Who knew? I also liked having a second set of brake levers up on the upper part of the handlebars; my old bike has those, except on older bikes they're very different.

Over the past year or so, I've had a bike shop change a couple things on my old bike. Specifically, they put on a strategically designed seat (for women) and added an adjustable higher stem for the handlebars. And when I took my bike in, it turns out the way I have it set up is pretty much the geometry that the comfort bikes have. That was interesting to see, and made me feel a little less self-conscious about the changes I had made for my whussiness.

I'm impatient with the weather. It would have been a lot more fun to try out these bikes in weather over 30F. I suspect that part of my wanting to try out bikes comes from my frustration with the coldness around here. I just want to get outside and go! But it's so danged cold!

I went to look at bikes on the way home from my travel vaccination appointment. It was sort of irritating, so I went to look at bikes as a sort of reward. Maybe I was just nuts from the vaccines? Maybe there should be a warning on them: may inspire stupid shopping?

So I'm stuck trying to decide. Bike? I'd enjoy it, for sure. I enjoy riding now, and I certainly wouldn't enjoy it less with an even cooler bike.

On the other hand, if I already average 15 mph, does going a little faster make it more dangerous? Does it add to my fitness level? Add to or reduce my birding fun? (Because no ride's complete without some birds, right?)

At my age, it's unlikely I'll get another bike. That's weird to say, but in 20 years, I doubt I'll be biking. Maybe I have 10-15 years of biking on a bike like this? (This is weird, and makes me feel old.)

Am I just being a stupid consumer? If I sent the same money to the local food bank, I could feed a family of four for a month, probably. I could pay down my mortgage and shorten it by 6 months to a year.

I take forever to make these sorts of decisions; I ponder and mull and ponder and mull.


  1. If you get it, never forget to chain through the front wheel :)

  2. Awww... (wincing on behalf of Styley)

    But isn't the mulling and pondering part of the fun? I think I enjoy thinking about buying things more than the buying itself. While you're pondering, all things are possible; once you've bought, you're committed.

  3. Think of it this way....if you buy a new bike, you can donate your old one to a charity such as Goodwill. You'd be passing on all the fun you had on the bike to someone who really wants (and probably) needs it.