Sunday, January 25, 2009

shopping or dreaming ?

We have an understanding in this household that when it comes to bikes, it's best that if a new one arrives then one must go. This is somewhat self imposed when the quiver got a little out of control a few years back. I had a grand vision of a private collection of vintage mountain bikes. We had a big 'ol barn in Maine and I did my best to fill it to the brim with a decent collection of all things rare,crusty and old. We had made a conscience decision to downsize drastically when moving out West in order to live the "simple" life. The choice was made to liquidate the stash. ( I still have a couple of keepers in the basement that I will NEVER part with ) but for the most part I try to live by this rule.

As of late, I am craving a steel cross frame. My current ride, the Jamis Supernova is a rocket, there's no getting around that, it's sitting at a very respectable 17.2 lbs and fits me nicely. The picks to nit are the finish details on this bike. A piece of tape to pretty up the juncture between the carbon and Aluminum...not so cool, eyelets for racks and fenders, on a race bike ? Lame. They flattened the top tube in the exact wrong position, which has been corrected on the 08 bikes. But still, I miss the ride of steel, all buttery and soft, there are no shortages of rough, choppy courses here on the front range and I think I could deal with a little more weight for a softer ride.

My first cross bike was a neon yellow steel Pinarello with a wicked short top tube and crazy high bottom bracket, we never quite hit it off and we soon parted. As my interest in jumping into a race started, I contacted a long time friend from back East, Christopher Igleheart, who was residing up in Portland, OR at the time. Chris had spent years at Fat City Cycles in Somerville, Mass. and was responsible for many of the unique boxed crown forks that were a signature look on many of the high end dirt bikes and also featured on the Slim Chance road frames. He built me up a super nice frame from Reynolds 853 tubing and even laid down a bead with my initials on the BB cup. The Igleheart lasted me years with the only downside being the frame was a little too road oriented, it had a limited amount of clearance for mud and the standover clearance was nill. Next up was an Independent Fabrication Planet X. This frame was a dream, superb handling skills, beautiful construction and attention to detail. At the time I think this was the frame that all others were measured against. I parted ways with this frame a few years back when it became evident that it was looking a bit tired with it's 1" headtube and matching steel fork, a victim of the steady advance of technology.
I held a position with Raleigh bicycles as a rep for the Northeast and being a company man, I spent some time on a Raleigh bike designed by Tim Rutledge who was a legendary crosser from the Northwest and responsible for designing the Redline bikes. This is where I came accustomed to the feel of a lightweight Aluminum rig with a little bit of cush offered up by the carbon stays in the rear. My next hairbrained scheme was to run disc brakes for a season on a Lemond Poprad, the added control and power that discs offered was impressive but a massive weight penalty with a bike that weighed in at 22lbs !

So as I stand here today, I'm not really sure what path to take. I'm definitely thinking long and hard about some steel from Boston again. I'm not a fan of a full Aluminum/Scandium rig, I just can't get around the look of a big 'ol chunk of CNC chainstay yoke sticking off the back of the BB shell, my back hurts just looking at it. Carbon sure is light and ride quality is buttery but longevity ? I don't want something I need to throw away after 2 seasons. Maybe I'll just keep the Jamis.....I'd love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Thanks for reading, Worlds is next weekend!!!


Greg said...

Get a Rock Lobster and call it a day. grin.

Chris said...

Hey, I've got a really nice steel frame I'll sell you. Only raced twice, for a total of about 7 minutes!


Anonymous said...

IF steel or ti planet x

Chris said...

Steel for sure

BubbaCross said...

3rds on steel (IF preferred)