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the lore of lure(15 posts)

the lore of lureET
Mar 7, 2001 10:42 AM
One thing I find very interesting and valuable on this board and others are differing opinions of the same bike. I guess the same bike can feel quite different to two different people, even those similarly proportioned. Exactly why this is so is, of course, somwhat unclear.

What I find even more interesting are differing opinions of very expensive bikes by those who have owned them. Many come on to say, e.g. that the Serotta CSi is downright magical and the very best steel has to offer, others saying the same thing about Ti with the Legend Ti, or that the Litespeed Vortex is the greatest Ti in the world for one who is not too heavy, and its 6/4 does miracles. Then others retort that yeah, all these bikes are good, but nothing special, certainly nothing justifying the huge price increase. We even had the respected Anvil come on to say that there are no real benefits at all to 6/4 over well-built 3/2.5, other than to convince the drastically overpaying buyer that he has the best bit<43n bike on the planet. Others come on to say that Trek OCLV blows these away at a fraction of the cost.

Passion and bike pride aside, which side in this debate is more right? Sure, some of this is subjective (although we could remove most of this if we painted the frames before they test-rode and have the rider not study the frame before riding: he might figure out the frame material from the ride, but wouldn't be able to tell much more). And I don't mean just which bike will perform better in an all-out TT; comfort and feel matter too. But is it mostly

1. lore

2. lure

3. lore of lure

4. law of lore

5. law of lure

6. lure of lore?

re: the lore of lureEd
Mar 7, 2001 11:01 AM
I guess the only way we'll ever settle this is to go for blindfolded rides on otherwise identically equipped bikes, or bikes with no decals - and being the impartial, scientifically-minded guy that I am, I am willing to do these tests, please send me a Dura-Ace,Ksyrium equipped 54cm Vortex, C-40, USPS, Calfee, Serotta, Seven, etc. and I will give my definitive findings on how each of these bikes ride :)

I'll take...Hank
Mar 7, 2001 11:37 AM
a bike built out of ho hum garden variety tubing built custom by a top notch builder over the latest and greatest techno mass produced (and soon to be upstaged and outdated) bike any day. But then Colnagos are starting to look kind of nice to me lately... I've been having fun messing around with this color chart.
Bikes are like wineDog
Mar 7, 2001 11:44 AM
I don't know about that lore... stuff, but this is my take.

Once you spend a whole lot of time on a bike, you develop a keener sense of feel for the geometry, quality, materials, even brand of a bike frame. This is very subjective, but real.

I think it's not a whole lot different than wine. Used to be, I couldn't tell the differnce between white Gallo and red Gallo, much less the difference between Mondavi Cabernet 1998 Napa Valley Reserve and the 1999 Merlot. But, after drinking a lot of wine, paying attention, and actually going to Mondavi and getting a tour of the winery, and having the experts there demonstrate the differences, it becomes much more clear. I learned to discriminate (which can be a good thing). Heck, the wine makers can not only discern the differences between vintages, but they can tell you how high up the hill the certain grapes were grown that went into the wine. Really.

Bikes are similar, if on a much rougher scale. After a lot of experience and paying attention, you can tell the differnce. And, similar to wine, occasionally the $10 bottle in a blind test actually tastes better than the $100 bottle. Problem is, not only are both very subjective (but commonly understood to have perceptible differences), but we really can't do blind testing with bikes.

So, with bikes there will always be opinions and debates that cannot be objectively tested. So, here's what you do. You try many yourself; you research information, and finally, you listen to the opinions of people you trust (like a wine magazine test), who seem to know what they are talking about and are not wed to any brand and seem to be unbiased, and make your judgments accordingly.

So, taste away.

Bikes are like wineLazy
Mar 8, 2001 4:57 AM
I agree. Just about everything important about a bike is subjective. Bottom line is if you don't like white wine, drink red.

Objective factors: Builder, weight, equipage, material, geometry and size.

Subjective factors: Feel, fit, quality, and prestige.
you mean they get better with age?ET
Mar 8, 2001 5:41 AM
Better dig up my '78 Schwinn and blow everyone away. :-)

I understand your point, but I think we shouldn't minimize the likelihood that we can get taken for a ride, if you know what I mean. And I'm not even talking about whether the big $ improvement is worth it, but rather whether there even is any improvement. Anvil may have a point that they make it sound liekthey came up with some high-tech innovation or havesome magical property and charge a lot because they know some will buy it precisely because it costs alot, thinking it must be great. That is not a wine connoisseur but someone who got rooked. And concerning the suggestion to taste away, wine tasting can be expensive.

I guess I'm just saying that while it's nice to be happy and salivate over one's own bike (perhaps even when it doesn't merit it), it is also a breath of fresh realism when someone who seems to be a respected wine taster comes on to say that his expensive Ciocc, CSi, Whatever Ti, or whatever else isn't really any better than a bike half the price, even though this puts dent in the aura, tradition and legend of that bike.
There are many similaritiesDog
Mar 8, 2001 7:22 AM
Not all wine gets better with age, and most wine peaks at a certain age and stabilizes or actually gets worse tasting from that point.

Talk to many wine connoisseurs, and you know that they say? They are not looking for the "best" wine, but rather, they are looking for a $20 bottle of wine that tastes like a $100 bottle. In other words, they are looking for good taste/value for their money. I believe the same thing can apply to bikes.

And, like bikes, marketing or snobbish word of mouth can overhype a particular product. There are some really expensive, well-known Champagnes, for example, that taste worse than a $30 bottle of Moet, even to many experts. So, by analogy, to many a $700 Airborne frame may in fact ride just as well or better than a $2400 Litespeed. (not stating that as a fact, just an abstract example).

Nonetheless, you must always consider the source. Certainly one with a vested interest, a bike builder, a proud owner, can be biased. One can also be biased purely from lack of breadth of experience with other things, narrow-mindedness, thrift, or snobbishness. It's hard to weed out.

A fundamental difference between wine tasting and bike experience is that you can relatively easily and cheaply try many wines, and there are so many people throughout the world over thousands of years who have done so, that it almost becomes objectified - you have standardized terminology and known qualities so that a large sampling of tasters will come close in their opinions of a particular wine. There will always be differences of opinion, but the differences can be more objectively explained and justified.

Anyway, certainly pride of ownership or pride of construction affects one's opinions of bikes. No doubt. That doesn't mean, though, that all opinions are useless, whether it be of a cheap or expensive bike. Generally, if many people agree, then that likely is worthy of consideration.

eloquent wordsET
Mar 8, 2001 8:49 AM
Does everyone from California know their wines due to the homegrown vineyards, or is it just you? Well, to try to impress you with my own wine knowledge, or rather to try to sound similarly eloquent even though I know little about wines (but do you want to talk single malt Scotch?), I will give the following analogy: It is well known that the Australians have perfected a system, using high technology, which produces consistently high-quality wines at a fraction of the French prices. The Australians are kind of snubbing their nose at tradition. They haven't been in the business for hundreds of years, they are not controlled by the French (why should the French have a monopoly anyway), they don't have to make excuses that it was a rainy year, etc. You get a great bottle of wine a reasonable price. But if that's all there was, that would make life somewhat boring, and then some would yearn for the unpredictable, inimitable charm and even pot luck of a French wine. Replace "Australians" with high-tech (and possibly even lower prices) and "French" with Italian and the analogy is clear.

I accept all that. Honest, I do. Maybe it's even worth it to some to feel good about tradition regardless of a price-to-value ratio. I'm just adding that it is interesting when not just anybody, but connoisseurs, or those that appear to be, come on this board to say there's no real difference. And it's not that I accept their opinion as 100% accurate or that it would apply even to all similar riders, but that it is something to think about.
rambling thoughts...Dog
Mar 8, 2001 11:47 AM
OK, I'm rambling, but I'll run with it.

You're on to something that's quite significant for some. We sometimes love imperfection. If someone created the "perfect" wine, consistent in every bottle, etc., many people would not really like it. We enjoy the mystery, the art, the imperfection of some things. As with wine, don't we similarly enjoy seeing a fine hand welding job, vs. a "perfect" machine weld? For me, I enjoy the fine hand weld more than the perfection of the smoothed Cannondale welds, for example. I like to see craftsmanship. Quite often, we reject perfection in favor of seeing the human craftsmanship in the object, and that's frequently shown through imperfection (e.g., a painting vs. a photograph). That's why we value the "hand made" label on things.

Now, you mention that some say there is "no real difference." If you are speaking strictly of performance, probably not. You put Lance Armstrong on an Airborne, Trek, Bianchi, or Colnago, it won't matter. The "real" difference often is something else. It's the art of the thing, whether that be aesthetic or feel. I don't want the "perfect" bike. We enjoy the art, too, and so the subjective will always matter.

However, we must remember that there are millions of cyclists, and that their perspectives and uses of their bikes will be as varied. A 40 year old recreational rider does not see bikes the same at all as the inner city bike messenger, the 22 year old Cat 2, or pro Tour de France racer. So, when someone says there is "no difference," that statment in a vaccuum is meaningless. Difference for whom?

No. Coherent ones. Agree wholeheartedly. (nm)ET
Mar 8, 2001 11:55 AM
re: the lore of lureTiger
Mar 7, 2001 1:06 PM
It is interesting when people ask,"what's the best bike?" because much of that depends on the person, what purpose they want a bike for, what kind of rider they are, what size they are, and what looks good to them. Kind of like the wives we choose. One person likes blondes, another brunettes.

And most of us are lured in by the advertisement. Every company needs to sell a product, so they advertise their tubing, geometry, material, etc. as the best. They must constantly come up with something new so that we will continue to buy a new bike. Some new ideas are good, some make little or no difference.
Quantum RaceSpoke Wrench
Mar 8, 2001 6:47 AM
The Klein Quantum Race is a pretty frequently reviewed bike. Different reviews that I have read give totally opposite opinions of its subjective ride qualities. I kind of think this is an excellent example of people finding in a bike whatever they expected to find.
Check the reviews on this board ...bianchi boy
Mar 8, 2001 9:43 AM
One thing you will notice is that almost everyone rates their particular bike very highly. Almost all of the different bike brands are rated 4's and 5's. You could interpret that several ways. One, most of the bikes are about the same quality and there's not that much difference between them. Two, most people have limited experience riding different brands and so have no real basis for comparison. Three, as Doug pointed out, people develop a more refined sense of taste with experience -- so, in general, those reviewing less expensive bikes are probably less experienced bikers and what they ride seems great to them. More experienced bikers move up to better bikes and are also pleased with their rides.

The reviews seem to be more meaningful with less expensive products, like components such as saddles and tires. In those examples, people can more readily distinguish differences because they can afford to try different brands and models. Or the parts wear out and they buy different brands of tires or whatever. For what it's worth, I have found the roadbikereviews for helpful for products such as saddles and tires, although you have to take the reviews with a grain of salt and realize that different people have different preferences. Last time I bought a saddle, I read all of the reviews and finally settled on a Selle Italia TransAm Max, which is the best saddle I've owned. It has gotten consistently good reviews here, although some reviewers don't like it.
and one more possibilityET
Mar 8, 2001 10:58 AM
Those inclined to post reviews of their bike are more likely to be those who love their bike.
and even one more...Dog
Mar 8, 2001 12:34 PM
People who take the time to write reviews just love riding. Period. The experience itself, regardless of the bike, is so wonderful that we see the bike through rose colored glasses.

Besides, how bad can a bike be? If it doesn't fall apart on you, it's generally at the 99.9% goodness scale, as it's your ticket to, well, ride!

Riding is good. Bikes make it possible. Ergo, bikes are good.