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Dressing Up a Road Bike;  The Three F’s:  Fashion, Function and Form

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When it comes to road cycling – at least for adults – there are three main things to consider.

Function

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

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.

Fashion

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


10 Comments

  1. unironedman says:

    Red, white and blue over here means a somewhat different country, and there are probably a few folk around these parts that would also take exception to that combination. There’s a sound logic to sticking with good old-fashioned black 😉

  2. Brent says:

    Yeah, the Velominati “rules” are slightly helpful. But some people take those and turn them into a license to be a jerk, to tell other people what to do or how to ride. Fortunately, those people don’t last long in my bike club but a little closer to Manhattan with some of the more racing-minded folks, it can be irritating.

    One friend of mine, who’s really fast, rides with a saddle bag for his spares, which is against Velominati rule #29. He doesn’t like his CO2 inflator bouncing around in a jersey pocket, which is understandable. And yet, every so often, some Velominati joker who can’t ride in a pace line and is slower than my friend dares to point that out to him.

    The great thing is that when you follow your own inner guide on accessorizing, you’ll end up with a bike that looks great and that also addresses the key aspects of safety, reliability and some combination of comfort/performance.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I should have included a “fully dressed” photo of my Trek… with its saddle bag. I hate carrying my stuff in my back pocket too. Now, when it comes to my Specialized, I don’t care… I’m not putting a bag on that bike, but your main point is solid. Almost everyone I know has a seat bag on their bike, come to think of it.

    • bgddyjim says:

      What am I talking about! Two of the photos of my Trek in the post have the saddle bag on it. 😀

  3. Archetype says:

    LOL! I too subscribe to the “if you’re not fast…look fast!” Comes from the moto days! I always liked too color coordinate and mind the details.
    My road bike has all red accents against the matte black frame. Right down to the red anodized presta caps! 😀

    Now…. about that ‘hate ‘merica thing… I guess you could lump in there on the surface. But I don’t hate my country at all. I HATE its government. I disdain it more than I even let on.

    I love the different regions and it’s mostly hard working people. Those whos ancestors have immigrated AND assimilated and made this land what it used it to be (great) The varied cultures, the scenery, the pride (though dwindling…)

    I love the mountains, the plains and the sea. I’ve been across the states from Vermont to Cali (including all of the east coast) and most of the mid-west. This country has a good amount to offer, but it is declining to what it had once offered. Yes, foreign people still risk their lives to get here from third-world nations to make a better life. But comparing America to N. Korea or Honduras or any other third-world nation is absurd. It’s a deflective tactic to not argue what has been happening and continues to happen here.

    Our freedoms and liberties are dwindling. 24/7 surveillance; from your email, phone to your TV. The mass invasion of our privacy is becoming an apathetic star. It’s ridiculous. The Patriot Act is nothing but a tyrannical piece of bought legislation. No-knock raids? Murdering innocent citizens because LE were at the wrong house? Oop’s, our bad say’s the Fourth-Reich… oh well and you CANNOT sue because of the Patriot Act!

    I appreciate the opportunities that were once available (not so much anymore) And surprisingly, (not) America isn’t the only place where freedom exists, though I had almost been convinced of that by so many under-educated folks back in the day. When I was a young ‘statist’ very uninformed. Not traveled.

    Once you begin to travel you understand that most of the negativity about other lands is mostly bullshite. I get pissed why we do not solve so many problems here, But I know why, it’s because of our corrupted criminal governments. (local boroughs to the federal level) We are over-taxed and under-served.

    Our infrastructure is deplorable for one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Our homelessness (especially of veterans is absolutely disgusting) the poverty rate is increasing while banksters are becoming wealthier off of a Corportist system, NOT a capitalistic system by any stretch. We no longer have a voice, we are losing our land to the Global wealthy of the wealthiest.
    It’s beyond frustrating, it’s maddening and I am SO f***king pissed off about it Jim.

    I’ll stop there my friend.

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