I had a really pleasant ride to breakfast the other day with a few friends. It was 30 miles through the countryside of SW Michigan. We cajoled along about 15-16 mph and enjoyed the early morning coolness. The others, dedicated spandex hamsters, were all on CF or aluminum roadies except one custom lugged steel rider. Being a 60-70 mile ride I was on the Hillborne, it does whatever my road bike will do, but is 30 times more comfortable on long rides. It was made for it. We stopped at an unusual little country store/restaurant for "second breakfast" and some interesting conversation. Gathering outside, we were looking at some of the hammock displays on the porch, when on of them said:
"Marc, have you thought about upgrading that bike?"
I diverted the question and explained that I had thought of a new road bike many times. Since I rarely use it, I forget about it."
I wouldn't change anything on my Hillborne. Well, there is a stem shift mount that might look better, and when I wear out the bottom bracket cartridge I'll replace it with a Phil Wood so I can forget it entirely. But the guy who posed the question is well known and proud of his distinction as a techno gear snob, so I should have said: "Sure, I'm going to a 12 speed cassette with a quadruple crankset and chain, all in titanium with voice activated electronic shifters linked to a Bluetooth app on my Apple 11 prototype. I'll be able to shift constantly in 1/2 gear inch segments at the speed of thought." That would have settled things. He would have been impressed.
The fact is, the handlebars and fenders throw roadies off.
If I had used drop bars they would be thinking of a vintage rando bike and be accepting. The Bosco Bars are interpreted by the unfamiliar as "CRUISER." Eventually they have to ask because they don't understand how a HEAVY,SLOOOOOW CRUISER can be rolling at 16-18 with their crotch rockets. The question came up and a great deal of surprise was obvious when I told one of them later that the bike weighed 24.5 lbs when I built it up.
"What?" "You built that that way?"
So the weight was no longer a question and I did not have the time or inclination to explain that the handlebars were a new design, in fact mine were the first ever sold. The pedals are a new variation on the standard platform design and the frame was even a new tubing design. That would have confused them because they have been led to believe that all innovation is tied to the Tour De France. Nothing will come of comfort and usefulness.
All this was reminiscent of the first charity ride I did on it. A spandex hamster came up beside me on his CF crotch rocket and asked a few things about the bike. After a few answers he asked:
"Why would anybody want a bike like that?"
I said, " I can use it to ride a metric century in 16 or better some days,
go to work, run with a moderate paced club ride, go to the store, ride trails,
negotiate a herd of Pokemon zombies in the city park,
run over gravel and grass, or tour the Himalayas.
What can you do with that?
Besides ride back to your car,
hoping you don't break it?"
There beneath the elegant lug work and ornate paint job lies a viable machine.
That's more than most can say about their bicycle.
Sam will probably keep me at N+0 for a long time.