The Hard Way

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Doing things the hard way is a luxury. It says to the world that we’ve beat evolution; intelligence is no match for technology and economy is no match for indulgence. We need only step a bit outside our bubble to realize the scale of the illusion, but nevertheless it has become reality for many of us who live our lives happily and fortunately in the middle and upper classes of the developed world where survival has nothing whatsoever to do with being the fittest.

One of the things that struck me within weeks of moving to the Pacific Northwest was the frequency with which people die here; not from disease (although Ebola can go fuck itself, pardon my francais) but from tucking into the wilderness for some weekend relaxation. The PNW has some of the world’s biggest cities, but most of it is untamed wilderness – including radical weather systems, cougars, rattlesnakes, bear, The Sasquatch, and possibly ManBearPig. This place will mess you up, son; your GPS or iPhone isn’t going to be your savior.

The first-hand experience of the realities of a system provides a more intimate learning tool than does the passive observation, although in an evolutionary sense the latter is the more effective method for the survival of a species; our ancestors learned to stay away from bees by watching the guy who drew the short straw poke at a hive and die from anaphylactic shock without needing to then poke at the hive themselves. Nevertheless the tangible nature of repercussions forges an indelible bond between action and result.

It is also interesting that complexity and abstraction are inversely bound; the more complex the system, the farther the user is removed from its operation. The simplicity of the friction downtube shifter is in sharp contrast to the complexity of an electronic drivetrain. My steel bike has friction downtube shifters, a fact that makes itself especially well known while climbing. To shift requires planning and skill; I have to find a part of the climb where I can be seated, unload the chain, and shift by feeling the chain as it slides across the block and listen for the telltale silence when the chain is securely seated back onto an adjacent cog. At that point, I’m committed to that gear until the climb grants me the next opportunity to shift. On Bike #1, I can shift under full load at my whim and without consequence. The artistry of shifting is lost, though I wouldn’t go back to downtube shifters on any bike I plan to ride seriously.

I love the contrast of evolution and tradition in the modern racing bicycle, with carbon tubulars being perhaps the most fitting contrast where the most modern technology is dependent on the oldest form of affixing a tire to a rim. Gluing on a set of tubular tires is no longer a necessary skill in our sport with good clinchers being readily available. Gluing tubs takes time and careful attention, two things that are in short supply in our modern society. But to glue on a set of tires brings you closer to the machine and from where our sport has progressed. To build a set of wheels does so even more, and I imagine building a frame by hand builds the ultimate bond to our history.

We live at a time when the things that are irrelevant to survival take on their own crucial importance; we return to tradition in order to remember where we came from so we may understand where we are going. Doing things the hard way is a beautiful way to remind ourselves of the history that built the luxuries we surround ourselves with.

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170 Replies to “The Hard Way”

  1. @rfreese888

    I think there should be a rule that says ‘though shalt own a bike with down tube shifters as part of your stable’

    Hard is Beautiful

    Amen to that!

  2. @Ken Ho

    @Haldy

    I was more concerned that Frank was giving queer advice ti get revenge for the amount of shit I’ve given him over the stupid mirror rule.

    You appear to have given this more thought than I have as I had no idea you’d given me shit on Rule #66.

  3. @wilburrox

    @conrad

    I still use down tube shifters. Even on my race bike. I can shift easily whenever I want to, even on a hill, using the same skills that you would use with any other shifting system. Its not hard when you are used to it. So easy to set up, lightweight, very little maintenance required. What is not to like?

    The thing about electronic shifting…. you are screwed if the battery dies. And if you ride long enough, or forget to charge them up, it is just a matter of time.

    It only happens once. And before it totally dies your FD shifts to the little ring and stays there. You have plenty of juice to get home using the RD from where ever you are. The real kick in the ass is when you leave home with your bike in the van and the battery on the charger in the garage. That only happens once too. And, that’s fixed by using an internal down tube battery that’s charged with USB connector to the junction box.

    When you’re ready to give up the down tube shifters and get a new bike, trust me, just skip the whole index shifting/STI lever thing and go straight to button mashing Di2. 11 speed. With hydraulic brakes. And carbon wheels. Cheers.

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

  4. @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

  5. @ChrissyOne

    @rfreese888

    I think there should be a rule that says ‘though shalt own a bike with down tube shifters as part of your stable’

    That is GORGEOUS.

    I wish it was mine!! on the N+1 list.

  6. @ChrissyOne

    @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

    Hear hear! On a recent charity ride, my companion and I were rolling merrily along when all of a sudden his rear mech stopped working. We tinkered with it to get it into an easier gear and he struggled to the next rest stop. There, the tech support put in a new cable and voila! he/we were able to complete the ride in fine style and he got his first century under his belt. The problem was a simple one and easily remedied on the day. Had it been something like a haywire battery issue, I think his day would have been over. (There was no way he was doing another 82 miles on the one gear he had).

    I am not technically/mechanically gifted, but I love how I can look at my bikes and see exactly how things work – and even fix much of it myself. This creates a special relationship between me and my bikes – I have touched, cleaned, installed, tweaked every part of it. Looking at something like the laptop I’m working on right now leaves me cold.

  7. @ChrissyOne

    @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

    Darned good point there!

  8. @rfreese888

    I think there should be a rule that says ‘though shalt own a bike with down tube shifters as part of your stable’

    Hard is Beautiful

    I’ll buy into that.  Stunning bike too.

  9. @frank

    @frank

    @Ken Ho

    @Haldy

    I was more concerned that Frank was giving queer advice ti get revenge for the amount of shit I’ve given him over the stupid mirror rule.

    You appear to have given this more thought than I have as I had no idea you’d given me shit on Rule #66.

    Probably.   You get a billion e-mails to read and remember.  I only have to remember my own.  I also have a somewhat Sheldonian memory and lots of time on my hands.

    I got a lot of crap a little while ago for posting some quick pics of my beloved Bianchi with lots of lights, bidons, and a mirror, but that’s how she is set up to RIDE.  The irony struck me last week when you posted pics of your bike with reflective tape stuck all over it.  But if it works for you, that’s cool with me.

  10. @ChrissyOne

    @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

    Nice Kent Brockman reference slipped in there.

    For me the issue with electronic is that a bike is by definition a human powered vehicle.

    When you introduce a battery you are no longer relying on human power alone.

    Whatever it looks like Wilburrox you are not riding a bike in my view.

  11. @ChrissyOne

    @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

    Ah yes, I recall the dulcet tones that emanated from your drivetrain on the Hurricane Ridge Cogal from that Walmart cable. I could even hear them over my own clicking bottom bracket.

  12. @Gianni

    What are we arguing about? Why friction shifters are great? Is a Bianchi a Bianchi if it is not celeste?

    I have no idea but that certainly wasn’t what the article was about. As @ChrisO pointed out, though, the article is worthless anyway and thats just the way we like it.

    And who can be blamed for jumping to conclusions when I put up a picture of of a red bianch with dt shifters and a unicrown fork.

    By the way, all you red bianchi unicrown fork haters: I love this bike and how it rides, so stop calling my baby ugly! Beauty is more than skin deep unless I decide otherwise randomly and with authority (volume).

  13. @Buck Rogers

    @rfreese888

    I think there should be a rule that says ‘though shalt own a bike with down tube shifters as part of your stable’

    Hard is Beautiful

    Amen to that!

    Buck, I really wish you knew how to use a computer well enough to not only upload a thumbnail of that beauty! Which bars are those? I love the look of that shape. I have the Merckx bend ttt bars on mine but I’m not crazy about the shape.

  14. @wiscot

    I am not technically/mechanically gifted, but I love how I can look at my bikes and see exactly how things work – and even fix much of it myself. This creates a special relationship between me and my bikes – I have touched, cleaned, installed, tweaked every part of it. Looking at something like the laptop I’m working on right now leaves me cold.

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!

    @ChrisO

    For me the issue with electronic is that a bike is by definition a human powered vehicle.

    When you introduce a battery you are no longer relying on human power alone.

    I like this viewpoint; it might most succinctly define why I am so resistant to it. Except I do use lights which use batteries, and a Garmin (sometimes) which uses one, but I suppose they are not powering the vehicle, they’re keeping its motor (me) from getting killed or recording the vehicles path trajectory.

  15. @Ken Ho

    @frank

    @frank

    @Ken Ho

    @Haldy

    I was more concerned that Frank was giving queer advice ti get revenge for the amount of shit I’ve given him over the stupid mirror rule.

    You appear to have given this more thought than I have as I had no idea you’d given me shit on Rule #66.

    Probably. You get a billion e-mails to read and remember. I only have to remember my own. I also have a somewhat Sheldonian memory and lots of time on my hands.

    A mentor of mine gave me the best advice I’ve ever been given: it’s never as good as it seems, and it’s never as bad as it seems. Meaning, of course, no one is thinking about you as much as you are, and whatever you did will neither come across as stellar as you view it or (thankfully) as badly as you view it.

    Words to live by. Thanks Timmmaahh!

    I got a lot of crap a little while ago for posting some quick pics of my beloved Bianchi with lots of lights, bidons, and a mirror, but that’s how she is set up to RIDE. The irony struck me last week when you posted pics of your bike with reflective tape stuck all over it. But if it works for you, that’s cool with me.

    Ah, my Reflective Bike of Authority, the Nine Bike. The genius there is you can’t tell the tape is there unless a light shines on it. Its genius if I may accuse myself of not being an idiot.

  16. Ah, my Reflective Bike of Authority, the Nine Bike. The genius there is you can’t tell the tape is there unless a light shines on it. Its genius if I may accuse myself of not being an idiot.

    Recently I was working with a small group of people and the, much like this moment, inspired trotting out “ts a fine line between stupid and clever.” crickets. oof. that time at least i was the eldest in the room (another painful realization…). but then the second time it happened was just sad.

  17. @frank

    @Gianni

    What are we arguing about? Why friction shifters are great? Is a Bianchi a Bianchi if it is not celeste?

    I have no idea but that certainly wasn’t what the article was about. As @ChrisO pointed out, though, the article is worthless anyway and thats just the way we like it.

    And who can be blamed for jumping to conclusions when I put up a picture of of a red bianch with dt shifters and a unicrown fork.

    By the way, all you red bianchi unicrown fork haters: I love this bike and how it rides, so stop calling my baby ugly! Beauty is more than skin deep unless I decide otherwise randomly and with authority (volume).

    Wait…I thought this article was about how Frank was trying to get KenHo to sniff a bunch of Acetone as revenge for giving him crap about a Rule #66 violation…

  18. @frank

    The genius there is you can’t tell the tape is there unless a light shines on it. Its genius if I may accuse myself of not being an idiot.

    Truly genius. And brilliant.

  19. @frank

    No doubt.  I’, not narcissistic enough to think you were laying awake at night plotting my downfall.

    HOever, I have a lot of mental down time, and get bored more easily than you can imagine.  I don’t sp mud suffer form ADD as I do Attention Paying Disorder.

  20. @ChrisO

    @ChrissyOne

    @frank

    The thought of plugging my bike into a usb socket makes my die a little insid.

    Me too. But here’s my biggest concern””the future.

    In 20 years, if my mechanical shifting system needs fixin’, I will be able to buy a cable (anywhere, even as I have found, WalMart), replace said cable, clean and lube everything else, and voila! Shifting happiness returns.

    But with electronics””let’s say some part of said electronics goes belly up. Stranger things have happened in rain-soaked Washington state. Now I have to find a replacement part that is compatible with that specific electronic system. Sooner or later the battery will die too. I’m reasonably certain that Shimano will still be around in 20 years. But it might be a bit of a chore to track down the precise part I need to make my bike not useless. I’m reminded of when ProFlex bikes, a long, long time ago, had electronic suspension adjustments on their mountain bikes. I just did a bit of Googling and I can barely find any information at all on said systems, much less actual parts for them. Meanwhile, my 20+ year old Grip-shifters on my 20+ year old mountain bike need only the occasional cable replacement, which costs a few dollars.

    I’m no luddite””I welcome our new technological overlords. You people will all be using disc brakes and (eventually) real suspension systems on road bikes. Some day. Yes you will. I promise. But then, hydraulic fluid is easy to come by.
    I’m not so certain about 5-way junction boxes.

    Nice Kent Brockman reference slipped in there.

    For me the issue with electronic is that a bike is by definition a human powered vehicle.

    When you introduce a battery you are no longer relying on human power alone.

    Whatever it looks like Wilburrox you are not riding a bike in my view.

    Oh come on man… dump the battery powered power meter then and ride by feel and what the race dictates… that’s just a little more pure hey? whatev…

    Still, I might well have put more miles on a down tube friction shifting 12-sp bike this past year than anyone in my town that ride bikes. So at least that counts for riding a bike I guess. The rest of the time I’m just f***ing around I suppose. That’s okay ’cause I like just f***ing around as much as the next guy. Even if it is just f***ing around with a HR pinned at 170.

  21. @frank

    @wiscot

    I am not technically/mechanically gifted, but I love how I can look at my bikes and see exactly how things work – and even fix much of it myself. This creates a special relationship between me and my bikes – I have touched, cleaned, installed, tweaked every part of it. Looking at something like the laptop I’m working on right now leaves me cold.

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!

    And another THIS!

    This relationship with a system you understand and can interact with meaningfully is such a welcome relief from the effects of our intensifying division of labor. It’s like digging a cat-hole and shitting in the woods (you aren’t really IN the woods until your first shit is done and buried). It’s like cooking and eating something you killed and butchered or grew and harvested yourself.

    No cyclist is an island–I doubt any of us is ever going to mine and produce our own metals and such and build a bike from the ground up. But, still, any slivery semblance of mastery in a world that makes us progressively more focused on one or two things and more stupid about everything else is a good thing.

  22. @frank

    @wiscot

    I am not technically/mechanically gifted, but I love how I can look at my bikes and see exactly how things work – and even fix much of it myself. This creates a special relationship between me and my bikes – I have touched, cleaned, installed, tweaked every part of it. Looking at something like the laptop I’m working on right now leaves me cold.

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!

    @ChrisO

    For me the issue with electronic is that a bike is by definition a human powered vehicle.

    When you introduce a battery you are no longer relying on human power alone.

    I like this viewpoint; it might most succinctly define why I am so resistant to it. Except I do use lights which use batteries, and a Garmin (sometimes) which uses one, but I suppose they are not powering the vehicle, they’re keeping its motor (me) from getting killed or recording the vehicles path trajectory.

    Exactly. The battery running your lights, or a cycle computer or power meter is not powering the vehicle, and they don’t make it easier for me to control it.

    The battery on Di2/EPS is connected to the drive train FFS – apart from having an actual motor how much closer does it get.

    Why does it matter? Imagine a cold Milan-San Remo when the finishers’ hands are frozen, but the rider who has been training in Belgium all winter is able to shift and sprint and the rider who stayed indoors… can now press a button to get the same electrically-powered effect.

  23. @ChrisO Not only that, they can mash a button that’s been strategically placed so as to better manage the sprint ! What I’m gonna take from this is the purely psychological effect that my drivetrain has a battery attached to it and I should be faster than everyone else. Someone earlier mentioned regenerative power. They’re on to something.

    Me, personally, I can think of one GOOD reason to not like Di2. It’s not pretty. And if I’m building a bike purely focused on aesthetics, say a steel framed beauty, I’m sure not gonna plug on a servo motor hanging off the drop out.

    I can’t wait for a good reason to post pictures of my belt drive bike ! I love that bike. Cheers

  24. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @rfreese888

    I think there should be a rule that says ‘though shalt own a bike with down tube shifters as part of your stable’

    Hard is Beautiful

    Amen to that!

    Buck, I really wish you knew how to use a computer well enough to not only upload a thumbnail of that beauty! Which bars are those? I love the look of that shape. I have the Merckx bend ttt bars on mine but I’m not crazy about the shape.

    Yeah, I am a FOOOK’IN retard when it comes to computers.  That is a pic of my 1992 Merckx with every piece legit ’92.  I put the original Rolls saddle back on and it has full DA 7400 with aero seatpost and all.  I actually had to replace the seatpost as it was too short for me but I have the original saved.  As for the handlebars, they are Cinelli Eubios with a Cenilli stem.  Fucking LOVE HER.  I get my best rides with the cycling ghosts on her.  Often Fignon, LeMan and Hampsten join me for a ride when I take her out.

    And, you would be able to see her in person if you ever came to any of my Cogals, i.e. 200-on-100 or the multiple West Point Cogals!

  25. @wilburrox

    @ChrisO Not only that, they can mash a button that’s been strategically placed so as to better manage the sprint ! What I’m gonna take from this is the purely psychological effect that my drivetrain has a battery attached to it and I should be faster than everyone else. Someone earlier mentioned regenerative power. They’re on to something.

    Me, personally, I can think of one GOOD reason to not like Di2. It’s not pretty. And if I’m building a bike purely focused on aesthetics, say a steel framed beauty, I’m sure not gonna plug on a servo motor hanging off the drop out.

    I can’t wait for a good reason to post pictures of my belt drive bike ! I love that bike. Cheers

    ^ This. The junction box is ugly. It clutters the stem. The derailleurs are lumpy. If there’s a battery on the bottom of the down tube… Don’t even get me started on that.

    That said, they’ll improve and the parts will get smaller. When they’re as clean as mechanical then I’ll be much less down on them, but the future-proofness will still be a concern.

  26. @ChrissyOne

    @wilburrox

    @ChrisO Not only that, they can mash a button that’s been strategically placed so as to better manage the sprint ! What I’m gonna take from this is the purely psychological effect that my drivetrain has a battery attached to it and I should be faster than everyone else. Someone earlier mentioned regenerative power. They’re on to something.

    Me, personally, I can think of one GOOD reason to not like Di2. It’s not pretty. And if I’m building a bike purely focused on aesthetics, say a steel framed beauty, I’m sure not gonna plug on a servo motor hanging off the drop out.

    I can’t wait for a good reason to post pictures of my belt drive bike ! I love that bike. Cheers

    ^ This. The junction box is ugly. It clutters the stem. The derailleurs are lumpy. If there’s a battery on the bottom of the down tube… Don’t even get me started on that.

    That said, they’ll improve and the parts will get smaller. When they’re as clean as mechanical then I’ll be much less down on them, but the future-proofness will still be a concern.

    The current breed with the battery in the seat tube are a lot better.  However that is step 1 in your comment – how long will you be able to get an external battery when they start to pack up?  Then you have to buy a seat tube one with the conversion kit being a drill for the extra holes required in the frame…….

  27. When I started riding my first real bicycle back in 1965 was a 1937 Belgian race-bike with three gears and a single guide wheel shifter. You had to learn clean shifting if you wanted a clean ride. It became part of the soul.

  28. @PeakInTwoYears

    @frank

    @wiscot

    I am not technically/mechanically gifted, but I love how I can look at my bikes and see exactly how things work – and even fix much of it myself. This creates a special relationship between me and my bikes – I have touched, cleaned, installed, tweaked every part of it. Looking at something like the laptop I’m working on right now leaves me cold.

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!

    And another THIS!

    This relationship with a system you understand and can interact with meaningfully is such a welcome relief from the effects of our intensifying division of labor. It’s like digging a cat-hole and shitting in the woods (you aren’t really IN the woods until your first shit is done and buried). It’s like cooking and eating something you killed and butchered or grew and harvested yourself.

    No cyclist is an island-I doubt any of us is ever going to mine and produce our own metals and such and build a bike from the ground up. But, still, any slivery semblance of mastery in a world that makes us progressively more focused on one or two things and more stupid about everything else is a good thing.

    Freaking John Donne! Awesome! I do prefer the simple, clean elegance of steel bikes with down tube shifters, but there is something undeniably sexy about a carbon bike completely tricked out… Unless the rider is slower and fatter than me, and then it just looks stupid.

  29. @Carel

    When I started riding my first real bicycle back in 1965 was a 1937 Belgian race-bike with three gears and a single guide wheel shifter. You had to learn clean shifting if you wanted a clean ride. It became part of the soul.

    Please tell me you still have this bike! And if you do, we need photos!

  30. You bikes are obviously way cooler than mine, but I do at least still have the first real bike I bought too long ago to remember when. I still commute on that bike most days which allows me to post this photo. I like the bike, I enjoy riding it but I still prefer the double tap equipped #1 bike which is why this bike only every comes out for the commute!

  31. @frank

    @Carel

    When I started riding my first real bicycle back in 1965 was a 1937 Belgian race-bike with three gears and a single guide wheel shifter. You had to learn clean shifting if you wanted a clean ride. It became part of the soul.

    Please tell me you still have this bike! And if you do, we need photos!

    I still have the frame, which carries more recent components these days and keeps rolling. The derailleur broke in the 70′ and the LBS replaced it by some cheapo Huret plastic bits. Shortly after the bike went into storage in the attic. That’s why it survived.


  32. @ #135 The pictures in fact do no longer reflect the way she looks. I’ve changed the cranks since and added bar-end gear levers that were lingering in the bits and parts box.

  33. @Carel

    @ #135 The pictures in fact do no longer reflect the way she looks. I’ve changed the cranks since and added bar-end gear levers that were lingering in the bits and parts box.

    Good for you to hang onto it – I’ll bet you’ve never regretted it! Man, look at all those clips! That’s old school right there.

    Huret derailleurs? There’s a name that you don’t (fortunately) hear much any more. I think Simplex and Ofmega both made plastic derailleurs back in the day to – shite they were.

  34. Same levers, running syncro with 7 speed. Set up properly, and with a bit of finesse, the shifting is as smooth as my bro-set. And the friction front never drops the chain.

  35. @Geraint

    @Teocalli Just came across that myself and was about to post it here. I’d be interested to try it.

    Something tells me you just lined up for a flogging by mini-pump.

  36. @Teocalli you’re probably right, it does seem to have stimulated some reaction elsewhere.

    I only said I’d be interested to try it, not that I wanted to fit it to all my bikes. I prefer to be open minded and try stuff, then I can dismiss it based on experience rather than dogma.

  37. @Gibstone

     I’m on a 1990 RB-1 with Superbe Pro and also Mavic wheels.

    Oh for fucks sake, that is a dream of a bike right there. Karen Henderson was my first true crush.

  38. @ChrisO

    @Teocalli As he says… “of most interest to people doing triathlon and TTs. ”

    No further comment needed.

    I’m still confused as to why doing 180km nose to the wind as a warm-up for a marathon run is so disparaged around here, but since I used to do it, maybe I have a biased perspective.

    Anyway, I’m still a lover of a manual transmission with a clutch, and don’t want anything to do with a CVT in a car, so this is of no interest to me, even in a tri setting.  However, if I was looking at a new tri bike, it would mosdef have Di2 with bar end and bullhorn shifters.  If I still had my P3, I would be retro-fitting it too.  Long course tri is so demanding that even the effort of changing gears becomes significant after a while.

    As I’ve noted before, the beauty of a bicycle is in it’s simplicity.  The safety bicycle, as we know it, is the essence of beautiful simplicity, and history is replete with examples of failure to improve it through added complexity.  This will be another.  It’s not that it doesn’t work, but it’s simply a solution to a problem that does not exist.

  39. @frank

    @Gibstone

    I’m on a 1990 RB-1 with Superbe Pro and also Mavic wheels.

    Oh for fucks sake, that is a dream of a bike right there. Karen Henderson was my first true crush.

    For your viewing pleasure.  Although I don’t look as good as good as Karen.

  40. @Ken Ho

    @ChrisO

    @Teocalli As he says… “of most interest to people doing triathlon and TTs. ”

    No further comment needed.

     Long course tri is so demanding that even the effort of changing gears becomes significant after a while.

    And this is why electronics are wrong.

    Just to show I put my money where my mouth is – I’m in the process of buying a Giant Trinity TT bike which I can get near cost price through our team sponsor, who is the Giant and Shimano distributor.

    I’ve ordered the Advanced 1 with mechanical Ultegra not the 0 with Di2.

    I already feel criminal just at the thought of using fishing tackle.

  41. @ChrisO

    @Ken Ho

    @ChrisO

    @Teocalli As he says… “of most interest to people doing triathlon and TTs. ”

    No further comment needed.

    Long course tri is so demanding that even the effort of changing gears becomes significant after a while.

    And this is why electronics are wrong.

    Just to show I put my money where my mouth is – I’m in the process of buying a Giant Trinity TT bike which I can get near cost price through our team sponsor, who is the Giant and Shimano distributor.

    I’ve ordered the Advanced 1 with mechanical Ultegra not the 0 with Di2.

    I already feel criminal just at the thought of using fishing tackle.

    good god, changing gear is part of being a cyclist, if we have an ‘auto’ doing that for us, we are losing part of the joy, I said before I don’t mind it in other applications, MTB, CX, Fatbike etc , but being able to change gear while fucked and redlining on the limit is all part of what we do, the heathens are at the gates, don’t buy that shit, it only encourages ’em.

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