As a newbie to cycling I was first flabbergasted by the cost of a decent bicycle, my jaw dropped to my knees when I saw the price tag of the shiny Giant Rincon $350! For a bicycle? I did a double-take and then check to make sure it did not have some sort of motor or solar panel. Another thing that baffled me was the clout that a couple bike companies held, quite reminiscent of the car industry… There was the big 4: Specialized, Cannondale, Giant and Trek. There were people who harbored brand loyalties and the likes. Now after riding seriously for over 4 years ridint along on my shiny Specialized Tarmac SL2, a bike that costs more than a little over $350 I ruminate on the differences and nuances of bicycles.
Some people stay old-school endearing the feel of steel… as the saying goes “Steel is Reel”, some the durability and maturity of Titanium and many the reliability, strength, rigidity and popularity of Aluminum and Carbon. I think about all this and wonder what is the anchor…the grounds of and for this feeling? Why do people develop an affinity for something as “trivial” as how they feel when they throw a leg over a particular bicycle a feeling of nostalgia transported of a place in time, a state of mind is reborn/relived. I am of the conviction that as relevant as other bits are“ it comes down to the frame. When you look at a bicycle, surprising enough the frame is usually the last thing that jumps at the uninitiated, the graphics on the wheels, the bartape/handle bar, saddle, groupset, paint color and the many other shiny bits call out for attention but the thing that holds them together, the thing that dictates the characteristic and personality of the bike… the thing that courts and cajoles the rider to fall in love with the bicycle is the humble frame.
In life we very easily forget what our frame is, we forget our primary and true essence. It is not our body our flesh will pass away , muscles atrophy and joints become arthritic, it is not out vocation or jobs they come and go just like life, it is not even our hobbies and recreation or family or any of those things that brings us the most joy… Our frames are our souls. We are a living soul with a spirit living in a body, like our bicycles we bolt on all these fancy dazzling parts that make us shift smooth, makes us aerodynamic, it calls out and masquerades our flaws, defects to a significant extent our strengths.
I have always had respect for riders who can afford a custom bikes even more for the builders who create these incredible works of functional art. Custom bike builders sit and find out what type of riding you want to do, get you proper measurements, fit the bike to you and not vise versa, most times opting for materials with immense longevity like Steel orTitanium tubes and even fusions of the all popular carbon to the aforementioned. Custom builders pay the most attention the soul of the bike, yes components could be used to modulate the primary characteristics of the phrase but it truly all starts and ends with it. I hope you custom fit my soul for eternity.
PS: Images gleaned from http://redkiteprayer.com/2014/03/nahbs-14-part-iii/