Talking about bikes always makes me want to speak Italian. The words are fun to say and I love the way they sound: bicicletta, bici.
When I bought my bike about a year and a half ago, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for in a bicycle. It was the first bike I’d owned in my adult life and I barely knew one type from another. Explaining this to the helpful people at our local bike shop in San Francisco, Sarai and I ended up coming away with Trek hybrids, as a good all-purpose bike.
It was good enough for a while, until we rented road bikes up in Sonoma one weekend and discovered just how much nicer they are. Granted, the ones we rented were nice racing-style bikes, the kind we looked at briefly in the shop before seeing the price tags, and there’s no way we need something that high-end. Still, the form factor and weight of these bikes made our hybrids look like giant, clunky monstrosities. My Trek weighs in at 30lbs, mostly due to the wider wheels, thicker frame, and 18 gears, of which I used maybe three. This is a lot of bike, and it just isn’t very enjoyable to ride. Sarai felt the same way about hers.
So yesterday we took a trip over to Manifesto, a local bike shop specializing in single-speed road bikes and picked up a couple new ones.
I bought a 2008 Lager, which is SE’s mid-range road bike (the low and high-end models are “Draft” and “Premium Brew”, respectively). It’s a single-speed bike with a “flip-flop” hub, meaning that the back wheel has a regular gear on one side and a fixed gear on the other, so it can be converted to a fixie just by turning the wheel around. I’m not really into fixed-gear bikes but it might be fun to play with some time. For now, I’m happy with the freewheel, and I kind of enjoy having just the one speed. I had no idea what to do with 18 speeds on my hybrid so it’s kind of nice to not have to worry about it and just ride. I’ll pedal harder if I need to going up hills, or faster going down. This new bike is a full ten pounds lighter than the old one and cost about the same. It was nowhere near the price of the fancier road bikes we’ve drooled over in the past but riding it feels similar (to us, anyway) and is much easier than our hybrids.
Sarai got almost the same bike as me, but picked out a white 2009 model instead. I would have preferred black, but the 2008s only came in brown and the black 2009 had a lot of ugly red trim. I’m more into minimalism, so I went with the more subdued brown and spent an hour or so this morning de-branding it, removing all the stickers and badges with the brand name and such from the frame. The seat is still branded but I’ll probably replace that eventually anyway. I also swapped the bullhorn-style handlebars for traditional drop-bars.
I haven’t ridden it much yet but I love it already. I don’t ride as much as I should but I think having a bike I actually like will help with that.
Update: Manifesto put a picture of us and our bikes up on their Flickr account.