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Have Things Changed For You, Too?(13 posts)

Have Things Changed For You, Too?MikeC
Feb 15, 2002 7:11 AM
In the discussion about Pinarello frames, "Klecko Won" mentioned that some serious racers he knows regard their frames as "disposable."
That got me thinking about my early road riding experiences in the late 60's and early 70's. It seemed that every real rider we knew was poor, so we all learned to repair and recycle everything, and we modified all of our own gear, drilling-out, filing, etc. as we thought it advantageous.
But I don't remember ever getting emotionally attached to a bike.
Yeah, we all drooled over Campy stuff, but just because it came the closest to what we could conceive as the ultimate in race performance. But mostly our bikes were just utilitarian devices with weird (often annoying) quirks. They were kind of like British sports cars: one day a week they were magical and unlike anything else; the other six days they kept you dirty, bloody, and up late at night in your garage. And it's much easier to look back on them fondly than it was to live with them in the first place.
But things are different for me now. First, I don't race, so I'm not always looking for the ultimate edge. Second, I find myself appreciating elegance and quality in a way I never did before.
I think that if I were racing today and could afford it, I would probably regard my bikes as disposable, utilitarian means to an end. But my interests in cycling today lean much more toward the aesthetic.
How about you?
re: Have Things Changed For You, Too?Elefantino
Feb 15, 2002 7:37 AM
I wonder — and I do not know the answer to this — how many current-day pros can actually strip a bike and put it back together. My guess would be not many, but then I may be completely off. If I'm correct, It would be analagous to race-car drivers, many of whom in past days helped build their own cars but today rarely set foot inside the garage. (This,like anything else, is a generalization; there are numerous exceptions.)

When I raced, I didn't care a whit about what the bike looked like. In fact, my last race bike was a lime-green-and-light-purple number that was ugly as sin. It was also uncomfortable on long training rides. But I felt it was fast, so it suited me.

Now I lean toward — check that; I will only consider — comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Does that make me shallow or, worse, a "poser"? Probably. But like those who have no qualms about wearing full team kits, I don't give a damn about anyone else. It's my butt that's on the saddle.

I guess my motto would thus be "if it feels good, do it," but then that was the motto for the '80s, so I guess I'm caught in some strange time warp.

FWIW,
Mike

PS: When I return to the road in a few months or so (hopefullly sooner), I will break out my all-pink Mercatone Uno kit. Talk about aesthetics...
Feel that way about bikes AND cars...cory
Feb 15, 2002 8:14 AM
I'm an old sports car racer from the days Elefantino mentioned, when you worked on the car in the paddock and sometimes slept next to it in a pup tent. Don't see that much anymore in these days of huge budgets, huge motor homes and hotel suites. I've often wondered how many of today's top drivers/riders could take their vehicles apart and rebuild them, or even troubleshoot them competently (on the other hand, they drive/ride faster than I ever did...).
As for bikes, though, one of the reasons I bought an Atlantis was that I DON'T want a disposable bike. I'm in my 50s, so my race-winning days are over (like they ever really started...). The Atlantis fits, it's decently made, it's pretty and I can happily rumble along on it until I get too old to keep my balance.
The other reason I bought an Atlantis was that I can't afford a Rivendell, BTW.
Interesting thought.L.O. McDuff
Feb 15, 2002 10:55 AM
Your message shook loose some memories. I did not have a British car, but rather a Fiat. Same idea but the Fiat was more like one day of magic and 29 days of sheer hell.

It comes from being older and more appreciative of life and the finer things in life. In the seventies, I had three bikes: an Astra, Motobecane, and a Puch. I felt no great attachment to any particular bike on any particular day, I just wanted to ride hard and fast.

I remember hearing an interview with Pete Townsend. He said he would run into the music store, grab a guitar, and run out telling the owner "I'll pay you tomorrow". At the show that night, he'd smash a brand new Les Paul on the stage. The next day, he would go into a music store a grab another guitar... I'm sure he treats his guitars a little better now.

I also agree that the vast catalogue of technical knowledge is decreasing and not being learned by the younger set. The teenage son of a neighbor is refurbishing a Saab Sonnet (sp?). He was having a hard time trying to find a decent engine and thought he would have to pay a lot of money to find one. The eccentric gentleman living in the old farmhouse heard of his dilemna and grabbed a old non-descript engine out of his barn and gave it to the kid. It worked. Apparently, Saab used Ford Tractor engines in the Sonnet.
Indeed. The Swedes werescottfree
Feb 15, 2002 11:11 AM
big on tractor engines in cars. The old Volvo B18 was a tractor engine too. That's why the damn things were bullet-proof.

My basic problem with new bikes and new cars is precisely that: Their 'improvements' are at bottom just complications that add to cost, without appreciably improving on the fundamental design.
Ah, nostalgia!guido
Feb 15, 2002 1:19 PM
Your story about the farmer offering the kid an engine out in his barn reminds me of the 1962 Austin-Healy 3000 I had when I was young. It had a long stroke in-line 6 cylinder engine originally designed and used in London taxicabs, souped up with 3 SU carbeurators, and spoked wheels that could actually be trued with a spoke wrench. Driving it was like flying a WW I airplane. The windshield was tacked on as an afterthought. You sat in it like the Mercury 7 astronauts in their space capsules, right on the floor, 6 inchs above the road, legs straight out in front, kept warm right next to the engine. Cornering on it's huge wheels would induce enought g-forces to throw you out the door if it weren't latched, but tires never slid-out.

My last hurrah with it in the late Sixties, I drove it from Harrisburg, PA to NYC at 90-100 mph all the way, slowing to 65 on the curves marked "45," passing everyone like they were standing still. Every weekend, I'd be out in the garage tinkering with it. My father had a British friend who used to say all British sports cars were designed that way, so you could tinker with them on the weekends.

The point of this tale is: that's probably why I am now so passionate about lightweight, high performance bicycles. I can re-build all the working parts on my bikes, and keep them riding as good today as they rode when I bought them. Every time I fix up an old and neglected bike, I'm always amazed at how they come back to life. Bikes provide an imtimate relationship with a simple, straightforward device of propulsion, perhaps the finest invention from the mechanical age, which is rapidly becoming lost in the electronic age.
I should confess...MikeC
Feb 15, 2002 1:41 PM
...that I own a '56 Austin-Healey 100-6. And my mis-spent past has included a Lotus Europa, Triumph GT6, MGB...
I wish I had my dad's '56 Porche bathtubTig
Feb 15, 2002 1:47 PM
He totaled it before it was 2 years old. That was one of the most beautiful cars ever made IMO. His was a silver convertible. I'd want it for a Sunday driver. MMMmmmm...
A Porsche silver convertibleguido
Feb 16, 2002 8:01 PM
Like the one Paul Newman drove in "Harper?" Great car, worthy of imitation.
Interesting thought.peter in NVA
Feb 15, 2002 1:56 PM
Off topic but...I had a 1970 Saab 96 with a V4, which
was a Ford Tanus engine used in tractors. My Saab new was
$1900 !
Things haved changed....DINOSAUR
Feb 16, 2002 7:38 AM
I don't recall getting that emotionally attached to my road bikes in years gone by. Perhaps now because a road bike costs more than our first new car we purchased in 1969, it's hard not to treat it likes i's something special.

Interesting also~ I ran into a guy who came to our house for some pest control work and he used to race Cat 2 during the middle 90's. I knew more about bikes than he did, and that's not saying a whole lot. In a nutshell I'd say that the average recreational rider is more attached to his bike than a guy who races or is involved in the cycling business. Maybe it's because we had to put our hard earned money into these little machines. I gush over my bike because I want it to last and I don't have unlimited funds to replace parts with.

I've read that when Lemond raced he trashed his bikes. On the other hand, Merckx was an equipment freak and he once stayed up all night before a race drilling holes in his Campy Super Record components. Hmmmmm given the money, which bike would you purchase, a Lemond or a Merckx? Interesting thought...
I think it's the other wayJack S
Feb 16, 2002 8:03 AM
Old guys like me, that have built up and worked on their bikes for years and know them inside and out, take more pride and care than those that haven't (and it is obvious that there are many)... and become more attached. Bikes become like pets, old friends, part of the family. Of course costs plays are role, but more often these days people are getting a new bike, the latest and greatest, every few years and selling off their old bikes to support their habit. Part of today's disposable lifestyle. Something wrong? No sweat, take it to the LBS for a $100 overhaul (or try to figure it out with the help of a message board). Racers are a different breed, and use what works and/or what they get cheap/free. To them it is just a tool. It's a little like golf... the new breed knows little about their forefathers, and the history of the sport and reverence for the past is being lost. Tiger Woods is the exception in both ability and approach to the game- as far as I can tell there is nobody like that in cycling.
A good bike will last a long time.guido
Feb 16, 2002 8:46 PM
Which goes counter to the consumer mentality of constant want for the latest technological advance. Nothing wrong with this; it supports the industry. If the new stuff works, it lasts a long time. If it's just a pretentious new innovation that nobody really needs, it gets modified, or forgotten.

I met a group of older men back in 1987. They called themselves "The Over-the-Hill Gang." They rode out of Suitland, Md. One of them was still riding the same bike he did track racing on in the Thirties. It was a fully lugged Reynolds 531 frame, with the same geometry as a modern racing bike. He had Larry Black, College Park Bicycles, braze on a set of dropouts that you could hang a derailleur on. This guy had been riding this bike for 50 years! Bike don't give up like cars. The things that kill them are boredom, lust for the new, and finally unavailability of parts.

But, y'know, the older you get, the less you have to have the latest stuff, and the longer your friendships last, the more you're able to appreciate them for all you went through together. Bikes last long enough to acquire that status.

So I guess the moral of the story is, if you have a really kick-ass bike that you just love to ride, hang onto it!