Dressing Up a Road Bike; The Three F’s: Fashion, Function and Form
When it comes to road cycling – at least for adults – there are three main things to consider.
Road bikes, well taken care of, are usually a thing of beauty. Of those bikes that aren’t well cared for, the collection of dirt and grime will, eventually, affect performance.
Right or wrong, show up with a bike that shows you don’t care for it and others may be leery about riding with you. You may think that is arrogant or in bad taste, but that’s because you’re not well-versed in road cycling in a group of people.
Well cared for bikes ride better and last longer. Those who care for their bikes will tend to notice when parts are deteriorating and change them before they cause a breakdown. Breakdowns at 30-40 feet (10-13 meters) per second are bad and can cause a serious accident. It’s not arrogance, it’s more like self-preservation and that’ll take care of function. If you’re going to ride by yourself, don’t sweat how you treat your bike. If you want to ride with others, take care of it (them) – or you’ll probably find yourself riding alone anyway.
UPDATE: I should also add, the function of the bicycle vastly outweighs the fashion. Pretty parts that don’t function only matter to the poseur. This point is important to remember. Function first, fashion thereafter.
Form is very simple: We get our bikes fitted to us by a professional because we spend a ridiculous amount of time on our bikes and if we’re going to ride them well and comfortably, set-up is incredibly important. Eventually, with enough studying and practice, we can even learn enough to fit our own bikes.
That leaves fashion, and I’m big on that.
The first, most important component of cycling fashion is looking competent and comfortable on the bike – see “Form” and get your bike fitted, and follow that up with practice. Beyond that, it gets personal. Color scheme, saddle color, bar tape color, even cable housing color.
For those who care, there are several “Rules” one can use as a guide to make one’s bike look “pro”, published by the Velominati – and they’re a great place to start though many are put off by the fact that the Rules exist in the first place. As someone who didn’t follow any of the Rules in the beginning, then came to find some value in them, I’ll simply offer my experience. You do what pleases you. I maintain that everyone should do what makes them happy; what makes you look at your bike and smile is most important.
Originally, when I chose my initial “favorite color scheme for a bike”, I went with red, white and blue. I loved the USA color scheme in a bike for two reasons:
- Rednecks love the Stars and Stripes. Seen on the road with a red, white and blue bike and full kit, I get a break from people who would normally buzz a cyclist in their vehicle for the sport of it.
- The Stars and Stripes is an AWESOME middle finger to a tiny but loud minority of jerks who tend to hate America from within.
The problem is, as cool as that color scheme is, it’s kind of a one-trick pony…. and it wore on me after a bit. Then I bought my Specialized and I decided to take the Trek back to classic black bar tape – and switch to red and black for both the bikes.
Red on black has proven a more versatile color scheme – and much easier to buy kit for:
Either go with the rules or don’t… or better yet, go with most of the rules and add a little flare. Whatever makes you happy, just remember the golden rule:
Even if you don’t feel fast, at least look fast.