This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Old or New School?

   There is a lot to be said for technology.  Constant improvements occur which make our recreation, lives and communication better.  Bikes are no different, but there is an area where it all tends to overlap.  Bike frames are made differently and of different materials but people still seek out an cling to the higher grade lugged steel bikes.  Chad, a friend who owns Getaway Sports in Battle Creek, said that he thought every improvement in the past 20 years has been an attempt to recreate steel alloys in a new form.  Aluminum can be lighter, is definitely cheaper but is not as durable or resilient.  Titanium is lighter, resilient and durable but incredibly expensive.  Carbon fiber is lighter, really expensive, rides nicely enough but the durability issue will lead us in circles at this point in the game.  I have not made the plunge into either the titanium or carbon fiber bath for a couple of reasons; money for one and honestly, if I can't throw it to the ground with a sense of confidence, I probably shouldn't have it.   I'm not being a retro-grouch (I installed a threadless headset once, it was scary...hurt a little)they all can be beautiful and fit somebodies ride requirements.  I have found steel to fit my needs better.
   The best way to acquire a high quality steel frame is a question discussed repeatedly in conversation and on the internet.  


 Nice steel frames, lugged and tig welded, are being made and built with fresh design techniques and geometry which are an improvement over the vintage bikes.   The question that is constantly argued is whether it is worth the money to upgrade the components of an vintage lugged steel bike.  It depends upon the quality of the frame of course, but if you run across an old Trek, Raleigh or Bianchi made of Reynolds 531 or Columbus SL tubing and it fits.  Why not? That material was the industry standard for over 50 years, replacing it with a current frame of True Temper, Tange, Reynolds or Kaisai tubing will cost 4 or 5 times what the vintage frame will cost on Craigslist, and it won't be that much better. 
   When you are essentially saving a bunch on the frame, it should be easy to spend a bunch on the components, but using a used anything destroys the "wow" factor for our inner consumer.  As I found with a modern lugged steel Rivendell, the new ones are more than expensive recreations and there are noticeable differences in the design. 



 On the other hand, if you find a great vintage frame that is comfortable and fits I'd say spend away with a clean conscience.  When I think of buying a new bike these days, I come back to making a few changes to my old Trek.  I figure that buying a new frame will include some risk that it might not be as comfortable.  So I have a couple more upgrades planned for the next few weeks which will make it more suitable for it's aah,aah...maturing owner.  It still fits and feels great, but when you've had something between your legs for that long, you do get rather fond of it.

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