Tag Archives: new bike

I love my bike, but it’s time to upgrade!

The maiden voyage of the bike I'm retiring, 10/25/09, on Ebbetts Pass
The maiden voyage of the bike I’m retiring, 10/25/09, on Ebbetts Pass. It won’t quite make it 5 years to its final ride.

Are bikes like dogs you’ve owned? Defining a period of time in your life? Maybe that’s what makes my present bike special; it represents the period of time in which my son, Kevin, went from ambitious but pudgy emerging cyclist to blazingly-fast (to me) climber. And my daughter, Becky, went from having some issues at school to honors-student at graduation and near-rockstar status at the shop. For political reasons I can’t push the shop rockstar thing too far as I’ve got a great crew overall, but she’s getting a great sense of how it all pulls together. And during that time my wife has gone from weighing quite a bit more to weighing quite a bit less! Ultimately dogs, and bikes, pass on, but are remembered together with the times you lived through with them.

Approximately 35,000 miles on my 2010 Madone 6 Project One and it’s time. Time to replace absolutely positively the best bike I’ve ever owned… and I’ve owned quite a few over the years. Not sure what more I could ask a bike to do than this one has done for me. But aside from a lot of wear & tear (a testament to the durability of Shimano Dura-Ace; I’ve replaced only a large front chainring and a few rear cassettes, in addition, of course, to quite a few chains), it’s now 3 models behind, and it’s time to enjoy the many improvements.

The new bike will not appear too much different from the old, with a very similar color scheme (black frame, green decals) and the wheels will actually move on from my prior bike to this one (Aeolus 3 carbon clinchers with less than 20,000 miles on them; they replaced earlier Bontrager XXX versions that lasted 33,000 miles through two different bikes). It will however feature a new one-piece bar/stem combination, and the latest & greatest 11-speed Dura Ace electric shifting. I’d considered going with mechanical, but after putting all those miles on the original Dura Ace electric shifting system, with nary a hitch… and never having to replace a broken cable… I’m spoiled. Staying with the program.

And now I have to wait until the middle of September. That’s right; a show owner who’s supported Trek for 25+ years has to wait in line, just like everyone else. It’s going to be really, really cool. I’ve ridden our stock floor bikes and they’re pretty darned awesome. Wonder what its first “real” ride will be?

Click on the photo for a complete description of my new bike, all the specs, everything.
Click on the photo for a complete description of my new bike, all the specs, everything.

What happens to my old bike? That’s the sad part (not really, unless you’re the type who never gets rid of their old bikes; I used to be that person). Trek has a loyalty program for all who own a carbon Trek bike; if you turn the frameset in (you get to keep the parts), you get a 20% discount on a brand new bike. Trek’s thinking is that your current bike might have a lot of wear & tear on it, has probably been through a couple of crashes, and it makes sense to get it off the road. Nobody inspects it to see that it actually was crashed, but few haven’t been. So the old frame goes back to Trek and literally gets ground up and recycled, while you get a new bike at a hefty discount. Please note this program could disappear at any time; there’s no formal written policy with a time frame. While it’s here, if you have the opportunity and need, take advantage of it!

I love my bike. I’ll probably love my next one even more.

What could my bike possibly do better? I don’t know. It’s close to 4 years old, obviously not the latest & greatest technology, but it still consistently blows me away, how well it rides, how reliable it’s been, how few flats I’ve had over the years. And on mornings like today, it has that “Twist the throttle and just go faster” feeling. OK, I do have to admit that I upgraded the wheels last year to the latest & greatest Bontrager D3 carbons, but other than that, it’s nearly the exact same bike it was when I bought it.

But it’s getting close to upgrade time. When I got my current ride, a Madone 6.9 with Dura Ace Di2 electronic shifting, I had the same feeling then, about how a new bike could possibly ride better than my prior Madone 5.9 SSL. But it sure did! Livelier, better at descending, even seemed more comfortable.

And I’m sure my new bike, likely a 7-Series Trek Madone with either mechanical or electronic DuraAce 11-speed group, is going to blow me away just like the last one.

What brings all this up? Probably the customer who came in, towards the end of the day, with a 1973-vintage Masi, great condition, paint job almost entirely intact. Got me thinking about how awesome my first racing bikes were, back in the day. And then we came down to the reason the bike was in the shop. It needed a few oddball Campy-specific parts that aren’t generally available anymore, and the discussion had to be had regarding keeping things as original as possible, using the dreadfully-awful stock derailleur cables and housings, or drastically improve the shifting using modern cabling. But modernizing it would defeat the point of owning a classic old bike.

And that point is? I’ve got a classic old bike, my 1972 Cinelli that I raced on, back in the day. A poster child for the “steel is real” crowd, and those who feel that nothing invented after lugged frame construction is worth two cents. And what do I call that bike? “The Iron Pig.” Because it’s heavy and feels as responsive as a Prius hauling concrete up a steep grade.

If it was a classic car, the difference in performance would be a source of discussion, maybe humor. But it’s a bike, and I’m the engine, and that makes it a whole different story. There’s no quick tune-up to make my engine faster, and no spare parts either. I’ve got to keep the original factory equipment running as long as possible. The only option I’ve got is to get a faster chassis with great wheels, and thankfully, every three or four years they’ve made enough improvement in them that it makes sense to upgrade. Even though my current ride is so nice.

The alternative? Ignorance is bliss. Be happy with what you’ve got, ‘cuz it’s been so good. That would be fine if everyone around me wasn’t getting faster (it’s certainly not me getting slower!), and if I didn’t know, from trying them, that $$$ will buy me a better, faster ride.

But it’s going to be a tough one for me, because I really can’t see my current Trek Madone serving duty as a “rain” or “utility” bike. It’s too nice. My 2003 Trek 5900? Different story, The differences are so significant that it makes sense to take it out in the elements and, basically, ride it like a rental. I can’t see my 2010 Madone in that role. But, I’ve been wrong before. Every 4 years or so.  –Mike–