This post is going to be a little gooey. Not gooey as in a “Hey, here’s a recipe for marshmallow and mozerella kabobs I just whipped up.” Gooey as in I’m going to be pretty much shamelessly gushy about some bike-related stuff.
So you may want to put on some gloves or something.
We Live In The Future
It’s been the strangest winter. Instead of sweating on rollers, we’re out on the pavement (and sometimes even out on mountain bikes). It’s the November that never ended.
I’m not complaining, mind you. Far from it. Really, really far from it. (You’ll see what I mean in a second.)
So last weekend The Hammer, The IT Guy, and I were out doing a nice half-century ride (for locals: From Alpine out to Cedar Fort and back). We were on the return trip, each taking 1-mile pulls. I was taking my turn pulling for a mile, enjoying the ride and everyone’s company, when the thought struck me:
We live in the future.
What I meant was that, in a lot of the ways that are important to me — in other words, in terms of bike gear — stuff is so amazingly advanced and well-engineered and attractively designed and light and reliable that it might as well be Star Trek.
As I faded right (the shoulder of the road coming back from Cedar Fort is huge; three riders can ride abreast) and dropped back to let The IT Guy take his turn pulling, I yelled my epiphany to The Hammer.
“We live in the future!” I yelled.
“What?” She replied, which is pretty much the most commonly-used word in on-bike conversations.
“We live in the future!” I yelled, more loudly.
“I heard what you said the first time,” yelled The Hammer. “I just didn’t know what you’re talking about!”
“I’ll explain later,” I yelled back, and dropped onto her wheel. And I thought some more about how incredible bike gear is now.
Think about the bike itself. If you like carbon, you have an outrageous number of frame choices, all of them outrageously light (and many of them ridiculously strong). If you like steel, your options are better than ever before, especially as handbuilt bikes seem to be surging in popularity.
My road bike’s Shimano Di2 drivetrain hasn’t needed to be adjusted in more than a year, and I charge the battery maybe every five months. And that’s just Shimano. Amazingly, there are now three companies turning out fantastic drivetrains. The awesomeness of your choices is incredible.
Without really even trying now, you can build a 16-pound bike. If you try a little bit, you can build one that weighs under fifteen pounds.
That’s fifteen pounds. For a bike you ride all the time.
Of course, if you’re going to ride a mountain bike, the bike’s going to weigh a few pounds more. As in, it could weigh up to 25 pounds if it’s a cross country racer. Or it could weigh a ton if it’s a downhill machine, but in that case it’s going to be able to absorb hits you wouldn’t even have expected a motorcycle to tackle ten years ago.
Oh, and if you want to go all minimalist — rigid single speed — you can, without difficulty, build a mountain bike that weighs 17 pounds.
And then there are the wheels.
Thanks to tubeless tech, I hardly ever flat — road or mountain. And with some geniuses figuring out that larger, wider wheels are better for pretty much everything, my riding experience is now just unbelievably good.
And how about bike computers? Remember when there was a little wire that snaked along your stem, down the fork, and then kinda-sorta aligned with a magnet and then rewarded you with…your speed? And remember how you never had to replace batteries in your bike computers because bike computers never lasted more than the batteries they came with?
Now there are GPSs. My Garmin 500 is just remarkable, giving me all the information I could ever want (and more).
But that’s not all. Bike helmets have gotten measurably better. And so have clothes. And shoes. And pedals. And glasses. Everything, really.
It’s all so amazingly good now.
And so I wanted to say “Thanks.” Thanks to Ibis and Gary Fisher and Specialized and Orbea and Shimano and SRAM and Stans and Oakley and Garmin and Time and Giro and Twin Six and Pearl Izumi and Bontrager and Smartwool and Honey Stinger and CarboRocket and Action Wipes.
And thanks to the dozens — hundreds? — of other companies out there that I haven’t mentioned, because I can’t remember right now or I haven’t tried your stuff. You’re designing and building unbelievably good stuff that is so good I think back to just a few years back and laugh at how much better bikes and bike gear have become.
You guys in the bike industry work hard. And you make great stuff. Stuff that’s better than I would have ever even thought possible. Stuff that’s so good I can’t imagine it ever being better.
Cyclists have never had it so good. Really, we wouldn’t have even dreamed of having it so good.
So again, to you people who invent and design and manufacture: thanks. I love riding, and you’re a big part of why.