As many of you know, one of my great pleasures in life is riding my bike. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like. I ride around our beautiful county filled with farmland and rolling hills. I do fundraising rides for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, for which many of you have generously sponsored. I have done bicycle tours of Western Ireland and Prince Edward Island.
In 2018, I will begin a bucket list ride across the country and, using that as a rationalization, I have recently bought a custom road bike. The process of having a custom-built bike made me think about our industry’s products and how they retain the core product values, even as the latest bells and whistles come along and get added and then fall away over time.
My new bike is shiny, and it has a beautiful custom paint job. But guess what? It isn’t carbon fiber or some other super high-tech material, it is steel. The steel frame and fork will make it much more comfortable to ride across the country. My cycling friends asked, “Isn’t it heavy?” When I answer that it is about 1 lb. heavier than my carbon fiber road bike, they seem shocked that I would make that choice. I tell them I can lose 1 pound of body weight to make up for that, but I can’t make a carbon fiber bike any more comfortable to ride. Sometimes the tried and true is more valuable than the latest new thing.
I never met the designer of my custom bike. Pictures, measurements, preferences, and experiences all shared by email. If I had to meet with her in person I could not have made it happen. I would not have been able to take the time to meet with her. We used all the technology we could to make the transaction happen. Those who know me best will also not be surprised to know the bike itself has a lot of technology too, including the latest Garmin tracker of all things cycling and front/rear lights that I hope will protect me from distracted drivers. But if they don’t, they have cameras to take pictures of the drivers’ cars if the bike sustains an impact.
I had a moment of panic after the bike had been built but before I had seen it. Several of my friends were also getting new bikes complete with disc brakes—something my new bike did not have. I sent a worried email to the designer, who assured me that the traditional brakes are a better option. The cost and complexity of the new systems is not outweighed by performance, she assured me. Ultimately, with some angst, I went with her recommendation. I see my friends with their disc brakes and sometimes wonder if I made the right choice. I am not sure if I will ever know one way or the other.
In the end, I trusted the expert.