I’ve heard a lot of arguments against buying a full carbon dream machine. I’ve heard that they’re not that big a deal or that they’re impractical. I’ve even heard the claim that the mid-range high-end bikes ($2,500-$4,000) aren’t worth the cost compared to a well equipped low-end aluminum bike, that unless you’re going to go whole hog and drop $8,000-$10,000, you’re wasting your money.
On one level, I get it. When I started writing I used to advocate going cheap because I didn’t have the money to go big(ger). I made due with the absolute best I could afford and was quite happy with that. I made due with cheap shorts, cheap jerseys and cheap bikes – and I was exceedingly happy, if sore and saddle-bit. In other words, I didn’t need a shiny new superbike to be happy cycling and once I showed that I had some ability I was accepted into the club without prejudice. A lot of people start out like I did.
That side of the argument is lacking though. Would you try to convince someone that because they can’t afford a Lamborghini, they should opt for a Ford Focus over a Mustang GT 500? That would be preposterous, don’t you think?
My story has changed. You could say as my income has improved, my thoughts on cycling’s finery have evolved. I have one of the coolest bikes at any event I ride in. It’s become a regular occurrence to get a compliment or five when I’m riding with folks I’ve never met. My bike has one of the hottest paint schemes I’ve ever seen on a bicycle, bright red on black, flat. It is awesome.
If that wasn’t awesome enough, and for any mid-life crisis hobby it is, the bike is comfortable as silk boxers. It’s like riding on butter compared to my older race bikes and it’s not even fair to look at the improvement in comfort between it and my aluminum bike.
It’s perfectly tuned and meticulously maintained. And it still, after thousands of hard miles, looks showroom new and it makes me smile every time I ride it.
While an enthusiast like me can’t expect to gain much speed from my awesome bike, it is vastly more comfortable and fun to ride and that does mean I can ride it a little faster than my old aluminum steed and I can ride that high-end bike a lot farther than the low-end aluminum bike.
Cycling will always be more about how a person rides their bike than about the bike itself and while no self-respecting cyclist would look down on someone who rides well but can’t (or doesn’t want to) afford a nicer bike, facts are facts folks: Cool bikes are just plain cool.
And if riding a cool bike makes one smile, then it’s worth every penny.