Thursday, August 09, 2007

New bike dreaming

I have been thinking a lot about getting a new bike, or more specifically an everyday (city/commuter) bike for long commutes. I realise that a perfect bike, like many desirable things is an impossible ideal. The quest for the perfect bike is pointless, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I've got bugger all disposible income. However, if I can indulge in some fantasies, I’m hoping that there might be a new bike that will make my commutes a little more joyful.

I’m currently riding a 96’ Trek 1200 road bike and a 1970s Malvern Star single speed. I also have a mountain bike that needs major repairs. The Trek is naturally fast but its not comfortable on my 20km commutes to uni. I get some lower back pain and sore shoulders when I ride it a lot. I’d also prefer not to ride in road bike shoes which are a pain with the stop-start nature of urban commuting. I could change them, but don’t want to fiddle around between road and MTB pedals every week. Currently, I ride the Trek most of the time but I’d rather keep it in good condition for Saturday crits and long Sunday training rides. The Malvern Star is a much better commuter bike, despite its age. The tyres go up to around 90psi and they're a 32c which give you nice balance between traction and speed. Even though it looks like an old piece of junk, its perfect for short rides on the flatlands between the inner-west and the city. It’s strong and comfortable with an relaxed riding position. However, the single speed (despite being somewhat fashionable) is not that good for me when I’m riding up those steep hills on the way to Macquarie Uni or if I'm riding with Ruth in the Blue Mountains. I’ve already snapped one quality steel pedal and I’d rather spin my way up hills that leverage every bit of my body weight through the 70 inch gear. Also, the coaster break does not scream confidence when I’m riding amongst the traffic. The Malvern Star is really the perfect bike for riding into the city at night as I never worry about it getting stolen, but its not a long distance commuter bike.

So, back to my ideal bike. The problem is I’m strapped for cash and so the options are somewhat limited. What I’m looking for is some balance between price, comfort, reliability, speed, strength and durability. I guess this is a pretty big wish list for someone who doesn't want to spend over $1000. Looking around many of the big bike companies I’m actually struggling to find anything that resembles my perfect bike. While there has been an explosion in the development of new hybrid/city bikes, there are very few that I’d really want. Although I’m sure that these bikes are perfect people who do short commutes, they're no good for me. Almost all of the hybrids (like the many Giant models) have heavy low quality suspension, which will slow you down and doesn’t do much in terms of comfort when compared to a good saddle. Then there are some really nice flat bar road bikes that are really quick (such as the Trek SU300, Scott Sub10) but they tend to cost quite a lot (i.e. well over $1K). Some of them are made out of carbon fibre which seems pointless to me. Why would you bother going carbon for somethings that’s meant to be a commuter workhorse? And disc brakes, no thanks! Of course, if I had lots of money they’d be no problem. But I want something that I can afford and something thats going to last a long time into the future. Doing lots of searching on the net, I think the closest thing I found is the Jamis Coda Sport. Its fairly light (around 11kg), strong and durable (Renyolds 520 double butted steel frame and fork), quick (700x28c), fairly priced ($1000) and appears to have realiable components (Shimano Deore and SRAM). This strikes me as a fairly well matched bike as least from looking at the specs. I don't know if this is the bike of my dreams but I'm willing to give it a test ride.


Hissabel said...

do they come in yellow?

Factor-c said...

its a steel frames, so its easy to do a good respray.