Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Build me up, buttercup

There comes a time in every cyclists life when the idea of purchasing a complete bicycle becomes a thoroughly repugnant option. Accepting the manufacturer's stock combination of geometry and componentry is an affront relegated to the credulous beginner. While athletes of any sort grow increasingly numb to physical pain, the seasoned, discerning cyclist becomes hypersensitive to mechanical equipment, geometric specifications, and manufacturer's logos.

While I remain serious and dedicated, I am still an amateur lacking any real athletic intrepidity; however this does not stop me from taking up arms in the unspoken component and brand wars with my cycling peers. While I could use equipment suitable to my needs and budget, every time I get thrown off the back during a ride, I would be left questioning whether my lack of athleticism is purely due to mechanical disadvantages. If there's one thing I hate more than physical exertion, it's thinking hard. So to alleviate these conundrums I have been amassing a collection of pieces that when bolted together properly will form the entirety of a bicycle. In the industry, this process is commonly known as "building up" a bike.

This will not be some plain ole "normal" bike, a "plain" bike, a "street" bike, or a "neighborhood" bike as the oblivious and often obnoxious customers in our shop searching for sub 200$ transportation tend to call them. It will in fact be a cross bike. Cross is short for cyclocross (CX), and while "cross" and "hybrid" are synonyms in botany, they are absolutely separate distinctions of bicycles. Hybrid is a type of bicycle named such as it contains aspects from road bikes and mountian bikes, which make it perfectly useless for both types of riding yet inexplicably desirable for indigent students, soccer moms, and baby-boomers. Cross bikes also contain aspects of road and mountain, yet in substantially different allocations. Cross bikes are kind of like when two average looking people mate and create an exceptionally good-looking offspring. They look like road bikes, but with nobby tires and cantilever brakes, suitable for riding fast over grassy and gravely terrain. They are often utilized as faster city commuter bikes, winter beater bikes, or even as mountain bikes for skilled riders. However they have drop bars and cost more than 500$, and this deems them terrifying to ride and a shocking extravagance to the layperson; so while logical and useful, the concept of the cross bike is lost on most people.

In my quest to build a respectable CX bike I have collected a series of higher and lower end components that when combined will offer the impression of serious industry knowledge, budget savvy, understated sophistication, and even modesty. I will also likely look really, really good on it. Secondarily, it will be a decent ride and hopefully I'll be able to go a little bit fast-ish and have the bike hold up and such. I'm presently breaking in my Brook's Swift (sophistication) titanium (extravagance), and I put my Chris King wheel set on my road bike (industry knowledge) while the rest of my group- Shimano Ultegra (budget savvy), along with Chris King headset and Thompson post and stem (industry knowledge), Ritchey handlebars (budget), etc. sits in a box in the basement, waiting for the frame I wish to purchase- the Surly crosscheck (modesty) to make themselves useful.

With this shining level of decent-ness, soon enough I'll only have myself to blame for my inexplicable dilatory performances- I can't wait!