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The Full Peacock Road Bike: The Delicate Balance Between Flash, Class, and Crass

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I always assumed everyone wanted to be their closest approximation to a peacock for their bike until I found a friend who wants his equivalent of the anti-peacock bike because he doesn’t appreciate “fast” colors. He likes the more subdued hues that match his cycling style.

Folks, I didn’t even know there was such a personality. I always looked at cycling through the golfer’s lens; if you can’t play good, look good playing bad. Never mind proper English (there’s none in the saying), you get the idea. With cycling it would be, “look fast… even if you’re not”.

Well, the bike is a part of “looking fast”, or “good” through the golfer’s lens, so that’s what I always went for.

When I saw what would end up being my Venge on the main display atop the back wall of the cash register, I was struck by the beautiful paint job on the bike, the aero frame with its “everything is a foil” design… let’s just say the bike fit my cycling personality. It fits that even more today, after numerous upgrades.

Getting to the point in the Title of this post, getting the balance between stately road bike and full-blown peacock without going over the line into full-blown gaudy is a bit subjective and the line is thin.

Here are a few things that could take you well over the edge if you’re not careful (and I only know this because I’ve tried most of them:

  1. Shift and brake cable housings are typically black. Extreme caution should be used when switching to colored cable housings – if your bike lacks color, you can absolutely gain some here, but colored housings are very hard to pull off well. Look at it this way, the last thing you want the eyes drawn to is the housing for the cables. You’re up against that.
  2. Bar tape. This is another of those “tread lightly” items that, if pulled off properly, can add a finishing touch to an awesome bike. If taken too far, as I did with my Trek 5200 when it was red, colored bar tape makes a bike pop too much… see below. The bar tape looks better when it matches the saddle.
  3. Brakes. I picked up a set of caliper brakes from FSA for my Venge that match the bike (and the shade of red) perfectly. I took a big chance on this, but pulled it off well. The trick here is I didn’t change the color of the bar tape or the cable housings. That would have been a bridge too far.
  4. Pedals. I’ve got black pedals on the Trek and Red on the Venge. I tried the red pedals on the rain bike and… it looks “forced”. There’s not enough red on the Trek to fight through the black, so having red pedals on the bike just looked… off.

The big one is going to be the bottle cages. Now, everyone goes to the bottle cages for a little flash, but one must be exceedingly cautious about taking the cages too far. I’ve gone to great lengths to get the cages where I liked them on both the Specialized and the 5200. I went with one red cage for the Trek, rather than two, because I really liked the red cage against the red “Trek” lettering on the downtube:

Having another red cage would, in my humble opinion, just bring too much splash to the party. Again, I love splash, but too much can make a mess. With the Venge, I went a little lighter and more flashy – because that bike, not being a classic like my Trek, can take it:

Originally, I’d picked up those cages for the Trek – the black and red Blackburn cages were going to stay on the Venge. When I installed the new space-age design to the classic Trek’s frame, it looked completely off. With the black to red fade and the newer design of the cage itself, it just looked wrong. The cages that are now on the Venge didn’t last a day on the Trek.

Now, the cages can get rather expensive in a hurry if we’re not careful. Cages are the one thing I really messed up on in the last ten years. I’d be willing to bet I’ve got at least $400 into cages, half of which are sitting back in my bike shed, never to be used again. Either the reds didn’t match, or I didn’t like how bottles slid out of them, or I just didn’t like the way I’d gone with them (design didn’t match the bike I wanted to put them on). The point is, it will save you money to really think about what it is you want your cages to do for your bike. Make sure they complement the bike or you’ll end up tossing them.

To wrap this up, peacock bike or not, be thoughtful about what you’re trying to achieve when customizing your bike. Go for bold, definitely, just not Elton John flashy.


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