I did my Christmas shopping for my wife (and I) Tuesday morning. I picked up two thermal long-sleeve jerseys for her and they both match her road bike.
I also did some “me” shopping at the same time… and I decided to put new brakes on the Venge. As you’ll see, they’re perfect.
Like I said, perfect. Note the stem on my bike: FSA carbon-wrapped aluminum… PERFECT. Typically the brakes above retail for $150-$180. I picked them up for $50. Gotta love Nashbar! I picked up my wife’s thermal jerseys, my brakes and a pair of LG bibs for less than the retail price of the brakes. Talk about stretching a Dollar!
My wife will be getting a bonus gift, too. My wife’s Alias came with an inferior set of brakes. We’ve struggled with them, on and off, ever since she brought the bike home… She’ll be getting the 105 brakes off of my Venge put on her bike (a HUGE upgrade from her Axis 1.0 brakes). Her brake woes will finally be over, and for only the price of a cheap Christmas gift for me. Better, I save 64 grams going to the FSA’s and my wife will save as much upgrading to the 105’s… There’s so much winning in the swap-out it’s ridiculous!
I’d never argue against what the great Eddy Merckx once said, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades”, but I don’t mind ignoring it either, from time to time. Upgrades are awesome and fun. Oh, and the saved weight, as little as it will be, will drop the Venge into the 15 pound range. It’ll be the high 15’s, but 15 nonetheless – and that’s all good.
And that brings me to a final point… I have a job in one of the “nicest” cities in the United States of America, in terms of quality of life. While the city caters ridiculously to the hippie crowd, it also goes to great lengths to be a cyclist/pedestrian friendly town. This means their bike shops are awesome. I’ve driven by one particular shop almost every day for the last two weeks and I finally decided to see what they were all about.
I walk in the front door and what do I see? Keep in mind, this is a high-end bike shop in a very high-end city:
Yep, a Madone 9.9 Race Shop Limited Edition. Folks, let me tell you, that bike is a lot sexier in person. I didn’t touch it, either – and I didn’t dare pick it up. At a svelte 15 pounds on the nose, the super-aero super bike is a thing of beauty. To a cycling enthusiast, well let’s just say it’s special. They also run about $13,000 normally (it’s on sale right now, according to Trek’s website, for a mere $10,500 – the 9.0, a paltry $4,000 weighs slightly more than 17 pounds for the price conscious).
On leaving the shop I called my buddy, Mike to talk to him about my experience. While I am definitely a Specialized guy, I have a warm place in my heart for Trek (the lengths I’ve gone so I could take my 5200 beyond its former glory should be enough of evidence of this). My buddy, Mike is a full-fledged Trek guy, though. He’s got a 5200 for his back-up bike and a Seven Series Di2. When we got into the price of the bike, he asked rightly, “But would that be any better than what you already have?”
Actually, he was right. It wouldn’t. And my bike is even more limited than the Race Shop Limited Trek. Of all the Specialized Venge’s on this planet, there’s only one exactly like mine. The color-matched Blackburn cages and pedals, the S-Works crank and handlebar, the FSA carbon-wrapped stem… and my Venge is actually paid off.
Life is funny. I walked out of that shop dragging a mop behind me to slop up the drool (figuratively, of course) and I ended up even more grateful for what I’ve got in the first place. That’s what friends are for.