I can’t be alone.
In fact, I’m certain that I fit in with the majority of cyclists in at least one regard, and perhaps, more likely, in two key ways. Firstly, we all love riding bikes; probably any and all bikes. Secondly, and the main point of this blog, we can’t stop fiddling with bikes: everything has to be tweaked, customised, made your own.
The ultimate expression of this irresistible and at times expensive trait is achieved with a custom frame, but you can, of course, scratch the “fiddling” itch by choosing a frame and then gradually adding your choice of components. (A word of caution with this approach: it’s sometimes best to buy the parts before the frame. The presence of the chassis often tips the delicate balance of “component acquisition to bank balance stability” in the wrong direction….must resist…clicking the button…).
I’ve seen riders take delivery of a new frame, where the talk in the cafe has been of a build completed slowly, and with prudence, over the long winter months, only to find them at home in the shed the next week, frame in the stand and a collection of high-end componentry littering a work bench. We love it, and we can’t resist.
The other end of the spectrum (and I, dear reader, have also fallen into this trap) is to have a ‘project bike’. It could be a single-speed, a machine for commuting; it could be, as it was in my case, a “rat bike”- something you could ride to work, take out for a training ride on your own, maybe leave locked up at a pub.
It was supposed to be a workhorse, it was supposed to be built out of various leftover parts from other machines. It rapidly turned into something that crouched in the corner of the work shed with a collection of parts thrown at it that became a monster, demanding coordination and instructing me to procure new and matching parts: a Franken-bike, if you will. The upshot, of course, is the creation of a machine that can no longer be left outside a pub: one that has become too precious, too personal.
With the lessons of history supposedly learned, I unboxed with glee my new Genesis Day One, which arrived the day after it was ordered from our friends at Madison, despite it being a purchase rather than a test bike, hopefully to become a stalwart on my new commute into central London. This is far from a “rat bike”, of course; it’s a head turner, no less, despite the relative lack of expense.
The itch emerged though. Normally riding 40cm bars, those supplied with the Day One were 42cm. My brain told me I could live with this; my heart wanted to make the bike mine. And so it begins.
A phone call to the good folk at Paligap followed, enquiring if they had any slim, 38cm dropped bars kicking around for sliding through London traffic without looking like a Shoreditch cycling fashonista. Of course they did, and having only requested a simple set of Ritchey Comp Logic alloy units, I was surprised and delighted to receive a set of the lighter weight WCS Logic II. Some geeky facts for those so inclined: the 7050 triple butted aluminum saves over 60 grams over the 6061 alloy used in the Comp Logics.
Is it a weight saving I’ll notice? Nope. Is it a change to make me more comfy on the bike? Well, yes, but only a little. More importantly the itch has been scratched. The Day One is now definitely ‘mine’, and that makes it all the more special. Now, can I leave it outside a pub? Arghh!