15 november 1997
the road bike cometh
in this column over the years, months, hours (delete as applicable)
there have been screeds and screeds typed and printed regarding
what we have now decided to call the 'playbike' (see last issue)
and this has been, admittedly a form of playing to the gallery.
this was, indeed, the populist option and guaranteed that my reader
could, from time to time, feel 'cool' even though there was no
real justification for this feeling.
however, in a daring and devil may care attitude, I am now happy
to come out of the closet and scribble the odd word or two about
road bikes. now, while most of you will already know the distinction,
my reader has probably limited experience of such things and I
should take time to explain. yes indeed, pretty much all velocipedes
could be said to be 'road bikes' since tarmac is the most common
surface under tyre but we shall here make the distinction that
a 'road bike' is generally regarded, by those of us with limited
interests, to be the descendent of ye olde ten speed racer and
sporting dropped handlebars at the front. the other notable departure
from the playbikes is the distinctive narrowness of the tyres,
commonly 19 - 25mm.
currently the top of the range of this ilk sport 18 gears - two
rings up front and nine in the rear. do we need so many gears?
of course we do. how could anyone survive on less? these machines
typically weigh between 18 and 22 pounds, move at an alarmingly
fast rate and are much more fun than the mountain bike magazines
would have you believe. If you are beginning to tire (pun intended)
of slurping along on tarmac with big knobbly tyres, grab the first
road bike that fits your bank balance and watch scores of tour
de france videos. how can you fail?
think of the health and dietary benefits that will ensue. the
average tour de france rider consumes between 5000 and 8000 calories
per day and still loses weight. then there are the sartorial attributes
- everybody suits a yellow jersey and there's a little red polka
dot number for those special occasions.
maybe then, when people mention campagnolo in conversation (I
always do), you will immediately be able to discuss the merits
of ergo power versus downtube synchro levers and whether dura
ace can be reasonably expected to have the same quality and caché
as c record. In fact, if this last sentence means absolutely nothing
whatsoever, you have become a sadly detached individual and are
in dire need of at least a copy of cycling weekly. or is that
ask santa for a colnago.