Mental Bike Shopping

I’ve been doing a bit of mental bike shopping recently.

What I mean is, I’m in the market for a new bike. Or, more accurately, I’m in the market for a new bike frame to fit some beautiful Campagnolo components to. This is a perfectly reasonable position for a mildly obsessed cyclist to find themselves in, but I’m not sure how I reached this point.

Making the leap from owning two bikes that I’m perfectly happy with – a winter bike and a good bike – is not straightforward. At the risk of over analysing this, there must have been a point where I went from being happy with my lot and reluctant to part with a significant amount of cash on an upgrade, to where I am now…

…mental bike shopping.

Ridley Fenix (Image: piair - Flickr CC)
Ridley Fenix
(Image: piair – Flickr CC)

I’m not sure how others make these kind of decisions, but me? I resist, and resist, and resist, and then something – a financial windfall, some barely noticeable tacit approval from the wife, a couple of glasses of wine too many – trips a little switch in my head. Once I’m convinced that a new bike frame is the ideal use for my hard-earned cash the decision is signed, sealed and set in stone.

But then comes the real indecision.

Ironically the thought of mental bike shopping is actually, surprisingly, better than the reality of mental bike shopping. Although I suppose, to be accurate, both the thought of it and the reality of it are, well…the thought of it.

Are you still with me?

The point I’m rather clumsily trying to get at is that once you’ve committed yourself to a new bike and you start to trawl the Internet with budget in mind, the world is suddenly your oyster. Give me two or three options on any subject and I’ll make a decision as quickly as the next man. Give me a whole Internet full of bike frames to peruse and before you can say Specialized S-Works I’m confused and wracked with indecision.

Buying a really good bike is a once-in-a-decade decision – get this wrong and I’ll find myself riding the wrong bike for the best years of my life.

No pressure then.

A big part of me wants a sleek and stylish piece of Italian art – a Colnago, a Pinarello, or a DeRosa, for example – but I have nagging doubts about the wisdom of this. I’m no slouch but neither am I a sprightly twenty-something with energy (and flexibility) to burn. Buy something too racy and I might end up self-conscious and conspicuous on a bike that’s too quick for me.

And with chronic back trouble. DeRosa Glorycycles - Flickr

The sensible move might be to go for something a little less racy and more suited to long days in the saddle over bumpy roads (but still a quick bike, by anyone’s standards). In this department the Ridley Fenix C is a current favourite. Built by a Belgian bike company with cobbled roads in mind the Fenix would surely be a good option.

But if someone rode past on a DeRosa Merak I know I would suffer pangs of jealousy.

Can I live with that? Should I live with that? Am I being over-dramatic?

Maybe, probably, and yes.

Now that winter is almost upon us I have some time to mull this over of course – whatever bike I end up building won’t see the tarmac until the first sunny day of next spring. I’ll try not to bore you all with the months of mental anguish I’m about to put myself through about the simple purchase of a simple bike.

Having said that, if anyone out there has any pearls of wisdom in this department, feel free to share.

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11 comments

  1. I have a good one… I have never been considered flexible but I manage quite well on my Venge, There’s something about the geometry with that top tube that makes an otherwise uncomfortable looking drop from saddle to bar, heavenly. Whatever you pick, test ride a Venge and see what you think (something with the Fact 10r carbon, the 11r is ultra stiff). They’re also coming out with a shock absorber seat post for the bike (they’re testing a prototype now) for added comfort over the long haul. Good luck brother and whatever you choose, enjoy!

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    • Thanks, i have to say the pics of your Venge do make it look a good option – stylish and racy looking but without being too flashy! If the ride is as good as you say it’s certainly worth thinking about, cheers

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  2. I think your choice is as much an emotional one as it is an objective one. Ridley are just like Stella Artois in the sense that they enjoy a much higher brand stature abroad than they do in their home country. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. It’s quite amusing to see how Americans get all gooey when they see a Chinese-made Ridley… If your heart is set on a De Rosa, I think you should get a De Rosa, provided they have a model that suits your riding requirements. Everything else would be a compromise, and as you already said it yourself, you will feel a pang of jealousy every time you see a De Rosa if you are riding a second choice. This is neither here nor there, but I have to say that when I went to a bike show in Belgium last year, De Rosa stood out as a rather sexy thing whilst I thought the rest of the show was underwhelming. If the current assortment shown on the De Rosa site is an indication, the Merak may have been discontinued, so you may be able to grab a bargain from a retailer still sitting on some inventory? As you say, once in a decade, so make it count!

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    • Thanks Chikashi, sound advice. You’re right of course about Ridley, and the misplaced reverence for a Chinese made bike, and DeRosa’s do look sexy. A couple of suppliers over here are doing a good deal on the Merak and i have Campag groupset and wheels to go with it – that’s very tempting right now. Thanks for the reminder to engage heart as well as head – cheers.

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      • My comment about Ridley was a bit harsh, I admit, but it was only to call attention to the point you were already making yourself about the Merak. I hope you see that no offence was intended! So what groupset and wheelset?

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      • Of course not, i understand what you’re getting at and i appreciate your thoughts. Chorus groupset, Zonda wheels, record titanium pedals (extravagent touch there). Looking forward to building up a rather nice bike. My local shop is a Wilier dealer so i’m test riding a Wilier GTR as soon as we get a dry day, but i have to say the DeRosa is the current favourite.

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  3. Already halfway there then! Have you started using the ProFit pedals yet? If not, I think you’ll like them. I have the Chorus version and think they’re fantastic. The cleats are not the most durable, however. Since I don’t know how long cleats (I use the ones with a float, not fixed) will be available on the market, I bought a few extra pairs already. Have fun with the build!

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  4. Funny, as much as I know and love road cycling and road cycling gear, my mental shopping tends to veer off to new and different versus the classic and beautiful. Not that I wouldn’t love any of the bikes you mentioned, but I wonder about the next road disc brake bike that would make me fearless descending a mountain route in the rain or that fully programmable electronic shifting gruppo, that would make the right decisions that I often seen to make wrong. But I’m with you in terms of shopping: mental bike shopping sure beats the physical kind, and its a lot less expensive too!

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