Automatic Endurance Training
Holy shit, have you seen the new World Tour bikes? They're like sex mixed with Molly, wrapped in dynamite! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. That's the de facto reaction this time of year as the World's top teams start meeting for "team building" camps, and reveal what they'll be wearing and what they'll be riding the following season.
One problem: pro kit is about 10 grand above what most of us can afford. So are the rest of us doomed to ride shitty bikes? Well, yes and no. Certainly there's nothing like riding a top-shelf bike, with top-shelf wheels, and top-shelf tires. The problem is, when you're riding top-shelf everything all the time, it becomes "normal," and the feel isn't what it was the first time you hopped on. And all this isn't to say you shouldn't buy nice things. If you can afford it, by all means! You worked your ass off for that money, and you SHOULD buy the raddest set up you can reasonably afford. I just want the rest of you reading this to not get down on your bikes. Like dogs, there are no bad bikes (Just kidding, I almost barbequed a Shitzu that came after me on a training ride the other day).
A couple years ago, I traded my roommate, like... six jelly beans and some scotch for his 2005 Motobecane Phantom Cross. I built it up with some bargain bin components, and some wheels that probably should have been thrown in the trash, and holy shit that thing is a slug. When I come off a fast bike from the season, and settle into some winter training on this thing, I feel like I'm riding through mud. And that feeling sticks. For about 10 days. Then it becomes "normal," and it's the best bike I've ever ridden. You develop some weird bond with a shitty bike. You picked the hodgepodge of componentry. You're not likely to see another one on the road. And when you smash some unsuspecting soul, riding a bike that should have been relegated to the scrap pile... well, there's no better feeling. It feels a part of you, and a shit bikes becomes less a training tool than a training partner. But maybe that's the romantic in me.
Anyway, here are a couple things to think about when picking a new bike (especially if it's your first one):
1) Bikes are massively better than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. So rest assured, if you can only afford the bottom-of-the-line 2017 model, it's almost definitely a better bike than what Miguel Indurain won five TdFs on in the 90s. Techonology man: It's a beautiful thing
2) The difference between the "Top-of-the-line" and a "Bargain-Bin-Bike" of the same brand is not as big as you've been lead to believe. Dura-Ace components are like magic. But 105 is also heinously good and a quarter of the price. Significant differences for 99.9% of the cyclists out there comes down to weight (and looking cool). So instead of spending 8k to shave 2kg off your bike, why not just lose 2kg off your body (which most of us can do easily), and spend that money on other things... like your spouse who you haven't seen in 3 weeks because you've been locked in the basement on the trainer.
3) As a follow up to that last bit: If you have "X" amount of money to spend, then go a model down from what you can afford. The worst thing you can do is blow all your money on a bitchin' bike, then not be able to afford a proper fit. A good fit will run you up to 300 bucks, and it is worth every penny. Being in a good position on your bike is critical to not hating everyone and everything in your life. A good bike with a bad position is a shit time. A bad bike with a good position is a helluvalotta fun.
4) Speaking of spending money elsewhere, if you're concerned about going fast, you should look into getting a coach *ahem I might know a couple*. Ever been smashed on a group ride by someone riding a bucket of bolts? That's because that person knows how to train. I've named my Motobecane the "MotobeSHAME" because of how many lives it's ruined. It's also broken an 8.5 mile TT course record (at 29.6mph) with a pair of clip-on aerobars (hard brag). So speed is in the legs, not the bike.
New bikes are great. But if you can't afford one, don't get down on your current setup. You can be fast on anything. Love what you've got and go train hard! And if you need a little help with the training part, hit us up on Facebook, or send us an email.