Bikes Round II

We’ve had time, research and test rides since I first published my thoughts on bicycles for the project. Some things are the same, others are shifting.

Recumbents

We went to the shop Recumbent Bikes of Tennessee. On the way up to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend for a family visit. The shop had a bike in stock for each of us. Russ liked the Ice Adventure HD and I liked the Azub Tri-fly 26. The Ice was heavy duty, big and roomy with storage bags and such. Perfect for Russ. He tried 2 trikes, after the HD, he didn’t really want to try another. I didn’t like it because the hips felt elevated, the owner suggested that was mostly mostly because the feet were not as elevated as the bike I did like.

I was focused on fast trikes with less movement (a bike dealer I spoke with recently called that good continuity). The Azub Tri-Fly 26 apparently won recent speed races. It’s not that I’m trying to win a race, but I’m not as strong a rider as Russ when we’re both riding at our best, but, I still need to ride at a similar speed, and when you’re riding distance, you need to travel fast enough to get the ride done and GET OFF the saddle or, since we’re talking recumbents in this section, seat. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the bikes with less extraneous movement are faster either. I just appreciate that the science is congruent with both of those important goals.

My current vision for recumbent bike options is the same as my early vision. I’m still hoping for a version of the bikes we tested months ago in Murfreesboro.

Endurance Bikes

My vision for the endurance bicycles has morphed a bit and moved further up in price. I hate that, really. I’m pretty comfortable in that place where people who know little to nothing about how much bikes cost think you spent a lot, and serious bikers think you didn’t spend enough. I specifically said in the blog earlier that I couldn’t see myself getting a bike with electronic shifting. The first rider I heard talking about having it was clearly a gadget fan. I only love gadgets with purpose, and they better not take more time to learn than they save.

I’ve rethought my position. I read an article, a few actually, on the purpose of electronic shifting. The article said it was to free up some time, energy and mind space during critical points. The articles moved me to acceptance of electronic shifting as more than just a gadget, but on my next ride I moved even further. I was riding and shifting, listening to my gears and running over the article in my head. I was looking at the handle bars and thinking of the layout for my cameras and suddenly I was there. It wasn’t going to be noisier, an earlier point of resistance, and buttons are smaller than levers. The more space I freed, in my mind and on my bars, the better off I would be. I may not be out there to compete, but I am going to be out there seriously to accomplish something, and I see the reasons to make the change.

This article sees electronic shifting as replacing mechanical shifting altogether over time, where I see it as something for the project that I’d want to move away from afterward. I have adjusted to automatic shifting in my car and don’t remember that last time I drove a manual. The author could be right, but something about needing to plug my bike in for a ride? Where’s the spontaneity? The independence? I could change, but I see myself going back, or at least making sure I always keep a back up bike without it.

I don’t have to edit the budget again, yet. Which is good. I said I wasn’t going to. My allowance should still cover the bikes I’m thinking of…if I can get them. New bikes are still in short supply. I just visited a local Cannondale Dealer and found out that the bike on the top of my list, the Synapse, had a top to bottom redesign for this year. Almost all of the changes are better for me and the added cost of those features will be covered by things I won’t be buying in other categories. It’s nice that the fork will be wider so I can change the tires for when I want to ride gravel trails. The news was a surprise, but not an inconvenience. I haven’t tried to keep up with equipment more than necessary. In the end, I’ll be buying what’s available and in my budget, and since the pandemic turned things upside down, I’ve know it didn’t make much sense to get heavily invested in one piece of equipment over another until I have a budget and can make commitments.

Of all the changes, I’m least excited about the “always on” headlight. It will be 350 lumens, a nice middle of the road number that will be fine for trail use or road use. On trails that close at or before sunset, the only reason you need a headlight though is for when you had a flat or other emergency and you’re scurrying home late. For this bike, if the front wheel is moving, the headlight will be on, and no other light will be compatible with the neat little system hidden neatly in the frame with the battery. The biggest downside will probably turn out to be battery usage. The lights that have blinded me on the trail were probably 800 lumen lights. Hopefully it will be unseen to our cameras and not irritating to other riders. No one wants a flashlight (or a headlight) in the face. Choices are good, and the ability to have them without voiding a warranty matters.

Availability is still the big bike issue. No one in any of the stores knows when bikes that weren’t ordered a year ago will come in. And they’re not 100% sure about the ones that were.


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