Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Scandal! Fleet Shakeup At The Cycle World Headquarters!

I recently let on (in an actual quasi-public forum, i.e. one that -- unlike this one -- has more than four regular readers) that I was selling a bike. And not just any bike: My beloved, much-raved-about Bruce Gordon, which has graced the test fleet here at The Cycle for a solid decade.

The response was a strange mix of endearing and disturbing. It was like I'd started giving away all my worldly possessions. So, for the dear friends who now have me on Cyclist Suicide Watch, I thought it best to lay out the what-and-why of that decision here.

First, the what: The Bruce has moved on to a new and (I hope) happy home, and has been replaced by a 2011 Raleigh Clubman that looks a little something like this here:

(Thanks to the guys at Skunk River Cycles for hooking me up -- and no, they didn't give me a deal in exchange for the plug. They just earned it by doing a good job. But that's another post.)

So why, given my incessant, lovestruck ramblings about ol' Bruce, did I cast it out into the cold and take in this shiny green interloper? Well, first, I was just flat-out smitten with the thing. Classic British Racing Green? Check. All silver parts? Check. Painted-to-match fenders? Check. Swanky leather (and faux leather) accents? Check. Weird (some would say discordant, but po-tay-to/po-tah-to) mix of classic aesthetic touches with modernity (sloping top tube, threadless steerer) that for inexplicable reasons appeals to me in a big, bad way? Check. Oh, and did I mention my obsession with sidepull brakes and their lack of sticking-out bits and cable hanger doo-dads? (some would call it a fetish, but let's not go there...)

So okay, the not-entirely-rational part of the new bike bug bit hard. But did it make sense? Well, in the last decade or so of my adult cycling life, my non-tandem riding has broken down into two simple categories: Pootling around town and going on long pavement-only country jaunts. The Gordon was meant to be the One Bike to Rule Them All, filling both duties, and it did so admirably. But c'mon... me? One bike? So along comes a motley cast of who-knows-how-many, all vying for some other niche of do-it-all-ness, all overlapping in one way or another. At night, I could hear them out there, arguing in the garage over who got to go to work with me the next day. It was sad.

My answer (at least for now -- with apologies to my wife, who probably just did a spit take) was to pick two very distinct specialists. Not specialized to the point of being utterly useless outside one very distinct discipline. Just two bikes tailored specifically to the two types of riding I do 99.9999% of the time. 'Round town riding in normal shoes? Grab the folding bike. Pretending to be fast? Strap on the shiny silver click-in shoes and grab the green machine. Now if I happen to get a wild hair to head off down the road after work, the folder will do that just fine. Or if I see an interesting stretch of gravel while I'm pretend-pacelining the Raleigh, I can swing it (carefully) on 700x28s and still have fender clearance to keep the sandstone schmutz off my bum.

Okay, my navel feels sufficiently gazed, and my concerned friends are (I hope) satisfied. I'll probably spend my off-season blogspace cataloging the bike from stem to stern and waxing poetic on each component. You've been warned.


Scott Loveless said...

I had a touring frame once that didn't have cantilever posts. Dual-pivot Tektros got the nod, and man did I love 'em. Sidepulls are the bee's knees.

Also, I assume you'll be sourcing some down tube shifters. Brifters are sinful in the eyes of BOB.

Steve Fuller said...

Congrats on the new steed. Hopefully the Gordon has a (new) home just as good as the previous one. We (the royal we, that is) need to get you out on some gravel sometime so you can see how the other half lives. You can ride the Raleigh here and leave it indoors while you take one of my rides out for a beating. I've got a lovely route to Woodward and back that will do nicely. :) That or gravelo to Woodward and pavetrail back to town for a big loop with lunch in Woodward and you can take the Raleigh out. :)