Bikes are the big scary question mark right now. Not only do we have bikes in need of repairs (me) and an overhaul (Russ), but we’re also going to need recumbents to ride half time so we can vary our physical positions, body stresses and sit spots to stay healthy and riding. I’m not really sure what we’re going to be able to do about it either. The photo above is the stock that was available when I took my bike in for repairs a few months back, and I’m still hearing cyclists talk about waiting several months for ordered bikes. There are certain maintenance things we’ll need to be doing constantly. For instance, tires will last between 1,500 and 2,500 miles without damage. That’s 7-10 weeks at the rate we will be riding when we’re up and running in full project mode. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market. Because we will be using the bikes constantly, that search will likely be constant so that equipment never causes us down time. We will likely make several repair or replace decisions, and it is harder to find bikes that are compatible for riding together, especially with our above average height requirements.
To back track for a minute, our bikes are Giant brand. We like them because Giant is considered a pretty good quality in the lower price ranges, but a lot of brands make good bikes, and fortunately, we’d happy with any of them too. Our bikes are good bikes when in repair, way above department store quality, but they are at the bottom end of what bike shops offer and serious cyclists expect. We like them, but going down in quality is not an option.
I have two bikes. One is a hybrid that I was riding the first time I trained for a century. Later, I bought a road bike, to keep up with Russ on his road bike, and I took the hybrid to my mother’s so I’d have something to ride back home. We didn’t have a rack that carried it well at highway speeds.
Recently I was without the road bike for almost a year and I brought the hybrid back. Riding it again felt like an old friend and early photographs of this project may have either bike. I need the faster bike though. Speed is increasingly important the more mileage a rider does. Distance riding isn’t just about stamina, it’s also about number of hours in the saddle. So, I sucked it up and made the appointment. Shop repairs where I bought the bike are by appointment through the pandemic.
I’ve spent about three quarters of the original purchase price on the road bike in the last 6 months and now I’m riding it again. It was much closer to the repair or replace mark than I realized. I’ve broken spokes recently and it may need new wheels soon. That could be due to the rough riding surfaces when the trail was full of storm litter, or it could be that the wear parts have worn. I’m it exclusively since the repairs. One thing I noticed when I got the road bike back is that it was quieter. I noted that keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn would be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep it faster too :).
Russ’ bike, was looking at a repair or replace decision before he crashed it. I really think that decision would have been replace if they had any stock, or on the way at the time. I’m keeping an eye out for 2nd hand availability. I don’t know enough about bike brands and models to know which bikes/models might be better, but, Bicycle Blue Book helps me to know what the right price should be. Bikes in shops that have bikes still are running 100% of “suggested retail” and so are many of the bikes available second hand. There have always been people who asked full retail for their second hand bikes. Right now there are more of those than usual. The one trike I found that was a significant discount off of retail was an arm peddle, which is cool and would help me make up for not having access to the Y, but it’s not practical for this project. I might never work up to the speed and mileage I need in one of those. And when I find the right kind of bike, some have condition issues. It’s easy to accidentally get a bike that needs a lot of repairs, and the shops don’t cut you any deals on repairs if you didn’t buy the bike from them. I’m afraid that the combination of Russ’ height (he’s 6’6″), current market availabilities, and our need to be on bikes that perform well and similarly enough for us to ride together will push us higher in price ranges.
Choosing a recumbent is daunting, and not just a little. I’ve ridden a two wheel second hand recumbent in a shop parking lot to see if I could, but I don’t know how to choose one. There are good guides, but many recumbents are order online propositions and we’re talking about the difference between book knowledge and experience. When I buy a regular bike, first, I have experience riding one and second, I’m at a shop where I can test ride it in the parking lot. They’re too expensive to experiment. I need to get it right on the first try. I joined some facebook groups to see what I could figure out, but they were different enough in focus as to be unhelpful.
We narrowed it down a little. We thought about tandems from time to time, but finding one of those in the right size is likely to mean custom, and I’ve always been a little afraid I’d be a slacker (without intending to) on a tandem. A tandem could be fun for a lark on some other occasion, but when I consider that one of us might need to go for help or the car, that settles it. I’m sold on separate bikes for the recumbent piece of the project as well. Sticking with separate bikes/recumbents also leaves us open to put cameras on each bike, potentially doubling our videos without doubling travel cost or time.
So, bike or trike? I like to maintain core muscles and all things being equal would choose a two wheel recumbent, but I think the three contact points of a medium to long wheelbase trike will offer greater camera stability, but the most important stability issue might be in the ability to mount a camera at the center of gravity. What I mean by that is the midpoint between all three wheels. Needing less camera image stabilization is a huge factor in producing good video and that is a primary concern.
I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. I”d like for us to ride road bikes in one direction, store them, and ride a recumbents in the other direction. That way, we won’t need automobile back up and will get good spacing on video from each set up. I haven’t decided if I want to try to set up cameras at the same height for both bikes, or if I want to have two different perspectives. Any helmet cams or chest cams will clearly be at different heights. But those things will sort once we see what we have to work with.
The bikes need to be strong, fast, quiet, stable, safe and comfortable. We’ll need panniers for the road bikes be able to carry our weight in batteries… no, not quite, but we will need a bunch. We’ll figure it out as we go.