Thursday, November 29, 2007

BSNYC Thursday Fun Quiz #4

It can be difficult to tell today's misshapen carbon wonder-bikes apart. Consequently, it can be even more difficult to tell the reviews of these bikes apart. Like the bicycles they describe, these reviews contain lots of material but somehow carry very little weight. Today's quiz contains twelve quotes, compiled from two different reviews: Bicyling on the Specialized Tarmac SL2, and Cyclingnews on the Trek Madone 5.2. Simply read each quote and click on the review from which you think it comes. If you're correct, you'll see Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Tour of California. If you're incorrect, you'll see something life-changingly profound (involving Arnold Schwarzenegger). I've also included a special bonus question at the end, as well as the links to the original reviews. (Please don't read them until after you've finished the quiz!) Thanks, and good luck.

"However, that same no-frills race tool design also offered increasingly fading showroom appeal...and its purpose-built appearance was looking increasingly dated amidst a sea of more progressively designed competition."


"The hyper-wide bottom bracket shell, grossly oversized down tube, and asymmetric chain stays of the [deleted] clearly pay dividends as drivetrain response is exceedingly efficient..."


"The[deleted] has a huge down tube and bottom-bracket area, and an integrated BB design with bearings that reside in the frame that allow exceptional power transmission, but the ride isn't close to harsh."


"At low speeds or high, this bike goes where you point it..."


"I'll be blunt--this is one of the best bikes I've ever ridden."


"...like a perfect, high-performance extension of my body that was at the same time reasonably forgiving."


"It surges forward from a standstill and in all-out sprints, and eats up long stretches of pavement like I go through gummy bears."


"Any speck of conservatism has clearly been tossed out this time around, and the head tube even sports a new logo."


"The top tube is curved, like a leaf spring, to be more vertically compliant, and also wide, to resist twisting forces."


"...the aforementioned tube shaping ­allows [deleted] to build in more vertical compliance..."


"Our [deleted] was uncannily smooth with a magic carpet ride over rough pavement..."


"The mind-blowing steering is ­precise, instant, never twitchy."


SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Which review mentions "vertical compliance" more often?


The reviews:

Bicycling
Cyclingnews

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

gotcha

leroy said...

So close and yet so far.

Anonymous said...

Podium!!!

daddo.one said...

dang!

alliwannadoisbicycle said...

one of the photos wasn't working, fyi-


in other news, teh dump i took last night was laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant.


ewwwww...

Niki said...

I got 4 wrong. Is that good or bad?

Oh right, on this kind of test, no matter how well you do, you always fail.

mr.complaint said...

Do all other bicycles not go where you point them?

Anonymous said...

A yellow bunnyhug for the winner!

Steve said...

What the hell is vertical compliance? Seriously, what does it mean? I ride all the time but I've never considered calling a bike "compliant."

Anonymous said...

yeah, one link isn't working properly

volthause said...

It creeps me out when I read those reviews that someone is actually that 'excited' about those bikes. Their virtual hard-ons practically jump out of the screen and poke me in the eye.

It's like they're reviewing a blow-job....

"I'll be blunt--this is one of the best hummers I've ever recieved. In every circumstance, on all kinds of surfaces, she behaved exactly as I desired--like a perfect, high-performance extension of my cock that was at the same time reasonably forgiving."

BikeSnobNYC said...

Alliwanna & Anonymous 12:13pm,

Which one? They're all working fine for me...

--BSNYC

craig said...

Thank god for new technology. You never knew which direction my old spesh e5 would go. Kinda scary sometimes.

guero canadiense said...

The Tour de California link is the one not working.

The mildly disturbing one is fine.

Anonymous said...

the link seems to be working now. i'm sure if TREK had sourced my computer's browser, the image load would have been "impeccably smooth."

leroy said...

Only 2 wrong and I got the bonus....

But I have to confess, I read the review of the Tarmac a while ago.

I've been reading bike reviews and then answering the want ads for medical test subjects in order to finance a new bike.

I'm going to need a stiff, yet compliant, carbon frame to absorb the lingering tics caused by one of the tests involving electric prods.

I came out of the test looking like that photo db uses with his posts.

Scott said...

Unfortuantely I'd just recently read both reviews so the quiz wasn't much of a challenge. I was wondering if you were going to pick apart cyclingnews' review of the Madone, though. That review managed to inadvertently point out everything wrong with the road bike market, especially with the first quote featured in your quiz. I'm glad you delivered!

Anonymous said...

I did really well on the quiz but I think that was more due to being able to tell the difference between how each publication tends to write.

I'm not going to comment beyond one talks about gummy bears, the other tends to write like Elaine on Seinfeld - in flowery prose, metered verse, and $5 words.

bikesgonewild said...

...hey, whats going on here...oddly enough, all those quotes transpose & work exactly the same for my 'orbea' / 'lemond' comparison...

...how could that be ???...

Anonymous said...

http://atlanta.craigslist.org/bik/493108117.html here's a bike to add to the pistadex

Art said...

How fitting that you posted this on the same day that you made the Velonews.com site of the day. Or week, or month, or however often they're updating that.

Colin R said...

If no one else is gonna give volhause some props, I will. +1 for the BJ review!

Sprocketboy said...

I bought my Tarmac E5, a design from Way Back in 2004, last year and since then I have been amazed by all the bicycles that appear to have been cloned from it: Merckx, Orbea, Trek, Wilier. Everone is getting on the Ol' Vetical Compliance Express methinks. That said, the Tarmac is really an amazing ride.

Anonymous said...

The Madone sounds like the cure of all of America's ills. We should start the church of the Madone, led by our patron, Lance, patron saint of dubious accomplishments.

"Ye, let thee go forth not with EPO upon the mountain, and date not but young has-beens in rehab."

This blog is vertically compliant.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, this is simple... You've got a Trekialized... or maybe it's a Willieized... or a Specillier

MZ

quaffimodo said...

I'll be blunt.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you've sold out again SNOB!! Site of the day at Velonews... Time to zip up the Lake's and peddle your wares in the big leagues.

erik k said...

I just cant explain it but after I read this post the disco ball in my office started spinning and then arnold schwarzenegger appeared and did this!. after which he proceeded to start dancing and screaming "Your all wrong just buy the Canondale, MADE IN AMERICA BABY!"

Strayhorn said...

Anonymous at 12:34

I had that same result - but, I've worked as an editor for a couple decades now and I've gotten used to reading bad writing. Pegging passages to a certain writer is something of a hobby.

On the other hand, I did find this video evidence which we can add to the pile of stuff which may eventually reveal the true identity of our own BSNYC:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVEWMDLrZmw

Anonymous said...

"At low speeds or high, this bike goes where you point it..."

Hmmm. Gotta get Trekialized: I usually point my current bike toward the front of the race, but somehow it always goes to the back.

e* said...

I'll go ahead and acknowledge that this sort of misses the point of the post (which was hilarious as usual), but...

I just got a new Madone 5.5 Pro -- it's our new team bike. And damned if the thing isn't *fantastic*.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you -- soulless, mass produced, weird tube shapes, everything that's wrong with everything from The Great Trek Bicycle Making Corporation -- but if you just want a bike that goes very fast and is an absolute joy to ride all day long, you could do a whole lot worse.

As much as I get a kick out of every bike review ever published claiming lateral stiffness yet vertical compliance, it truly is a worthy goal, and when it works out, it's almost miraculous. Having a bike that takes the edge off road vibration and chatter, while still managing to be explosively fast, is pretty damn cool. Don't knock it til you try it!

jza said...

Reminds me of a girl I used to date. Now she had some vertical compliance, if you know what I mean.

Kevan said...

Just after the gummy bears line in the Cyclingnews review is this gem:

"...the perfectly neutral handling personality of the original has also been faithfully retained, and even sharpened thanks to the more rigid front end."

Sharpened neutrality! Enhanced impartiality! Honed nondescriptness! Such radical design concepts!

BikeSnobNYC said...

e*,

Thanks for the rider feedback, much appreciated.

For all my ribbing of companies like Trek, I certainly acknowledge they've been around long enough to know how to build a solid bicycle. As a rider though my question is always whether they could have gotten the same result without all the proprietary components. I'm guessing the answer is probably yes. (In fact, it was probably last year's Madone.)

--BSNYC

leroy said...

BSNYC -- great post as always, but I expected a trickier bonus question.

Something along the lines of asking which reviewer was more likely to find that the bike climbed like a monkey in crampons and descended like a monkey in crampons dropped from a helicopter.

That line still cracks me up.

BTW -- that could not have been you this morning in the outlaw hoodie on the Bridge. That guy didn't have a bike.

bikesgonewild said...

...thus is the price of fame, bsnyc...
...you get the shout-out from velonews today, you also get a patrick o'grady mention over at big jonny's drunkcyclist & immediately some wanker again starts screaming "sellout" like yer doing anything beyond posting very funny e-columns...

...sheesh...

...fritz (a cool guy in his own write / right) at 'cycle-licious' has a bloody 'imitate bsnyc' contest running this week & while imitation is supposedly the sincerest form of flattery, i don't understand the need for this bullshit...this on top of the 'autosnob' thing is getting ridiculous...

...being healthy minded cyclists, i would assume we could just appreciate whats around us, whether it's the beauty of nature, a well crafted blog-site or a great riding bike...

...but wtf do i know...guess i'm just getting pissy again...

Bluenoser said...

Another good one Snob but what's with the links. I thought one was supossed to be the ToC how come they wear all that winter gear? What was it about 60?

And the other was damned scary. prolly must have helped you with that on.

-B

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever figure out how to pronounce madone? I've figured out five ways:
mad one
madown (like mad own as one word)
madoni (like the hypothetical pasta)
madonne (french, like motobecane used to be)
and, if you say it fast enough, mydoughnut seems to work. Somehow it's more interesting than talking about the actual bike.

Bluenoser said...

One even... its a simple word but I'm a simple guy.

-B

Philip Barrett said...

In the morning, sometimes I wake up vertically compliant, sometimes not-so vertically compliant.

Scott said...

Wait, you mean it's not just "muh-dohn", like everyone everywhere says?

Anonymous said...

To pronounce Madone, watch "The Sopranos" and listen closely to Paulie Walnuts when he enters the "Bada Bing" and says, "Mah-done, look at the rack on her."

Charlie said...

So, it is clear that the modern cycling community can build a $3000+ bike whose abilities greatly surpass the potential of the consumer.

I wish that magazines would hold bicycle manufacturers accountable to producing performance bicycles for $800 to $1400. More reviews and prominent web publications regarding achievements in this price bracket will improve the quality of equipment that can be reasonably purchased by sane amateur cyclists.

Would it sell magazines? I hope so. If the magazines were useful in informing the cycling public of products that we could conceivably purchase, we'd have a more vested interest in reading their reviews.

Sincerely,

A collegiate cyclist who purchased 3 of his 4 race bicycles second-hand (4th through generous sponsorship from Efinger Sporting Goods. Such sponsorship makes collegiate cycling possible).

Anonymous said...

Y'know, as I was whizzing through traffic today and saw another buttercup (fixed gear effete) shakily threading the needle between a parked car and the curb line, it gave me pause to stop and think... what's next for these guys? Then it hit me -- saddles. Risers, raw denim, nitto, and njs are all played out in a major way. But something's gotta give; if you can't further dandify an already expensive fashion accessory what point is there to owning it at all? Clearly not riding it. So it seems to me saddles are gonna be the next fresh-to-def accessory item to trick out. Fuck a Brooks, it's gonna be all about impotence inducing vintage saddles in '08.

Keep an eye for this BSNYC.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if that reviewer didn't go through gummy bears so quickly, he wouldn't have such a hyper-wide bottom bracket. I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who enjoys riding a bicycle on frequent occasions, but has absolutely no idea what most of this crap means.

Anonymous said...

My penis is vertically stiff, yet laterally compliant.

-d said...

I have an ex-girlfriend was vertically compliant, unfortunately horizontally accessable as well.

carbon sucks like she did. 9 years and still bitter. Does carbon last that long?

morkmorkmork said...

i get it. it's meant to be vauge. but i bet you could have a favorite if you rode both

db said...

I came out of the test looking like that photo db uses with his posts.

Leroy, you are a handsome man.

broomie said...

I did terrible on the test. At first it bothered me because I always want to ace a test. Then I realized that doing bad on this one was a good thing.

The following is not a rant, just some thoughts.

Re: the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVEWMDLrZmw Video.

Everybody looks like they are having fun but I had a visceral reaction to the use of The Damned. Just like someone may get a tad upset if I used my gold card to by a Karate Monkey, some swobo a fresh tattoo of a froggy Jesus on my calf and lied about being a messenger; I don't think the proper respect is being shown to the Damned and those of us with grey hairs who discovered them. We took peoples bikes from them and ghost rode them off overpasses or crushed the spokes under our boots. We didn't dress like bizarre fey little Hell's Angles and frolic with cardboard boxes.

Now, go show your elders some respect and put grandpa's Vinyl Damned records back and try a drum circle or something. I'll take some geritol and share stories about piercing my cheek with safety pin in science class.

leroy said...

db --

You know, I don't hear that too often.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Prolly's mother does squat thrusts in a cucumber patch.

Anonymous said...

I recently had an opportunity to thorougly test-ride the new Whizbang XQ4.6 Lambda. The manufacturer was kind enough to supply us two free bikes for a positive review, so here we go! Let me tell you, the Lambda is a bicycle! It has exactly two wheels. Each wheel has an inflatable tube used to support a pliable rubber tire. The rear wheel attaches directly to the frame while the front wheel first attaches to a fork, which is then attached to the frame. And let me tell you something: the frame is made from an alloy, and is painted. While perched on the saddle, the rider can apply pressure to the pedals to induce forward motion. Two handlebar-mounted levers allow the rider to not only alter the gear ratio (great for adjusting the amount of pedal effort according to the slope the rider chooses) but these levers also allow the rider to modulate the velocity, or even bring the bike to a complete stop. Braking is achieved by two cable-actuated brake systems, one for each wheel. Several reflectors come standard with the Lambda. Each of them seem to be visible from at least one hundred yards when a bright light, such as a vehicle headlamp, is shone upon them. The only negative note; the sticker design seemed to slow this rider by approximately .5cm/hr compared to a similarly priced and equiped bicycle from a competing manufacturer.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous at 6:18p - hey, this blog is for amateurs only - you're obviously a professional bicycle reviewer!!!

Anonymous said...

If you can't see the link for incorrect responses, clear your temporary internet files on Internet Explorer.

Tools>Options>Delete Temporary Files

Anonymous said...

right on, Colin R, and I second the motion. +2 to Volhause for the BJ review!

Triksapekatt Vie said...

I need your help!

I am attending my first Critical Mass and I am wondering what to wear! http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/bik/490460397.html

This is timely because BSNYC's topic yesterday addressed what the hip urbanite is wearing, rocking or sporting. I am not sure. Anyway I was so inspired I put some ideas in my blog. Please look and give me feedback. (Yes, this is a trick to get you to look at my lame blog, but I have nothing better to do right now.)

Thanks in advance!

Triksapekatt Vie said...

Oh, I forgot. I did very bad on the tests. But I found the close up photos of A.S. very stirring. I am experiencing feelings I have never had for another man before.

I have never ridden a carbon bike. Can they be as great as they say?

In some of our boat races the Carbon masts on other boats would snap. Very expensive and inconvienent to say the least.

James said...

Jeez, apparently I've hit a nerve here.

Let me raise one question, though: has the thought occurred to anyone that these bikes might just very well be as good as they're made out to be? It's no secret that bike design is clearly becoming more and more convergent, but that's not necessarily an entirely bad thing. Having ridden both, I've very comfortable in saying that the new Madone and Tarmac SL2 are both really, really nice bikes, exhibiting just about every trait that framebuilders large and small have strived for for years, be it in steel, titanium, aluminum, or otherwise.

Just as the vast majority of full-suspension mountain bikes are fast becoming near clones of each other, so are a lot of carbon road frames but it probably has more to do with the fact that there aren't all that many wholly unique ways to achieve the same design goals.

Was the Madone the most emotionally stirring bike I've reviewed? Probably not, but it is still one of the best ones I've ridden in a very long time and I have to give Trek a lot of credit for looking outside of what is usually a very, very small box.

Much as people love to hate Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords, this thing does everything it's supposed to do exceptionally well while doing nothing poorly, all at a price that most smaller companies can't touch. Bicycle technology has gotten to the point where some of the best stuff is going to come out of the companies with the biggest engineering pocketbook, and while the smaller boutique builders will always hold a lot of cache, they probably won't be able to match the bigger guys in terms of pure performance.

Believe me, I love smaller builders. Hell, I still own a Dekerf Team SL and a Dekerf Elysium (that I paid WAY too much for), both of which I love and will likely never sell, but I can't deny the fact that there are a lot of other frames that perform better, ride better, and are cheaper by a huge margin.

Hate the Madone all you want for being from a big company or lacking in soul (and hate me as much as you care to for not unilaterally trying to tear down 'the man'), but the fact remains that this is a damned nice bike and I'd have to think that many of you would feel the same way if you were to actually spend some time on one.

Anonymous said...

The best example of vertical compliance whilst still being laterally stiff is a suspension seatpost.

Anonymous said...

Keep getting Arnie-scope which then means that I must not have my babel fish correctly tuned. Damn I think I will retire to a dark room and stroke my squoval

Anonymous said...

If the reviewers want to shill for the manufacturers in the early part of winter, shouldn't all reviews include a comment on whether ( or not ) full fenders fit? Eyelets? Can the bike limp home with a broken spoke on the rear wheel? The broken spoke test should be performed and the results included in all bike reviews.

broomie said...

How about the ease of riding w/ broken collarbone or wrist with one eye blinded with blood test?

Scott said...

James,

My main beef with Trek is highlighted by the first quote BSNYC (mockingly) used for this quiz. As you pointed out in your review, Trek was already sitting on a race-winning bicycle, the design proven for 7 TdFs in a row (not to mention a couple Vueltas and Giros in there, among many other races). Their racing machine was obviously cutting the mustard and then some. As you point out, though, it just wasn't glitzy enough on the showroom floor so they had to change it. It wasn't racer demand that led to this (Lance still demands his top tube be level to the ground), it was the glitz factor caused by marketing the bike to roadies, the majority of whom (let's face it) would be better served by Trek's Pilot line anyway.

Mark said...

What holds together the carbon fibers in one of these bikes?

Epoxy.

What was it that failed and caused the ceiling to collapse in Boston's Big Dig tunnels after just a few years?

Epoxy.

Andy Pandy said...

Heretics, round earth theorists, blasphemists..... I am going back to FGG where the truth faith is maintained and no more talk of this gobbledy-gook vertical compliance issues or the like

Anonymous said...

I rode the 38 miles home with a broken spoke on my 32H rear wheel, which was house in a nice steel frame and surrounded by fenders. I did have to loosen the rear brake.

With 12 miles for me to go, I saw some Don Johnson carrying his Trek/Specialized/Orbea/etc. because a spoke pull through his carbon wheel. There wasn't enough clearance between the lower stays to allow a warped wheel to pass. He claimed that he had to hoof it (carrying his bike since it wouldn't roll) for another 8 miles.

Anonymous said...

In my circle of riding buddies, at least 28 spokes is required for group rides.

SkidMark said...

james,
Pithy stuff - well spoken!

Joel said...

James:

I don't hate the Madone or its clones. I do think the comparison to the Toyota Camry (newest model had been recalled a number of times by the way - Toy's reliability ranking dropped for it) and Honda Accord is misplaced.

CamCords are meant to be practical, every day machines that meet the needs of the widest possible driving market.

Madones and the like are highly specialized sports equipment that meet almost none of the needs of the average cyclist. Commuters, grocery shoppers, casual riders do much better with other bikes.

Most casual weekend racers would probably be better off with something less over the top and less expensive.

Our hosts earlier comment, that Trek (and several of the other large carbon mfgs.) could make the same level of quality without so many proprietary parts is equally apt. It is a poor commentary on the engineers who cannot figure out how to improve something one year over another without completely redesigning basic components.

Anonymous said...

What's that sound?

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/nyregion/29bikes.html?_r=2&oref=login&oref=slogin

At first I thought it was this but now I think it may have been the sound of my soul crumpling.

-Kicks

Andy Pandy said...

Exactly my point Mr Anon 10.04. Now that the vertical compliance vs lightness nexus has been conquered, there is infinite scope to add mass. Next thing we will all be playing Black Sabbath ( or Cheryl Crowe) records backwards looking for design clues for the next break through in biking technology. However the de-evolutionary addition of training wheels may slow this down. Over at FGG the closest I have seen to this is a tiger tail attached to the seat posts. Such purists those FGG scallywags

BikeSnobNYC said...

James,

First and most importantly I want to thank you for commenting here.

Secondly I just want to mention that I don't have a a problem with big companies in principle. As I've said before on this blog, I don't believe that bicycles have "souls." I do start bristling though when I see proprietary parts and innovation that seems driven more by marketing concerns than by performance concerns. I think things like an integrated seatpost that makes packing a race bike in a travel case difficult (which you duly pointed out), or a bottom bracket shell that restricts you to outboard bearing crank systems only (which from what I've read elsewhere is apparently the case), are drawbacks on what I'm sure is otherwise a great-riding bike.

I in no way meant to imply your impressions of the Madone were false or misleading. I only intended to show another dimension to these bikes by approaching these reviews from a different angle.

Respectfully,

--BSNYC

justacoolcat said...

This mind-blowing review is ­precise, instant, never twitchy.

Anonymous said...

Charlie 3:01pm:

I completely agree with you, when I was shopping for my first roadie I was stuck between a Cannondale CAAD8, a Felt S32 and a Trek 1200 or 1500.

I found all kinds of great reviews about why I should spend over $3k on a bike but few good reviews about which mid-level bike I could actually ride like its supposed to be ridden (under 25mph on normal bike paths).

I ended up test riding each for about 5 minutes each and picking the one that felt best to me (CAAD8).

Personally, I'm okay with the magazines comparing Madonne to Time Machine. Its like reading if a Countach is faster than an F50 - I won't ever own one, I have no reason to own one but it's still fun to read about them.

Personally, I'd prefer the average biker to be stuck test riding their selections at a local brick-and-mortar than buying a bike on eBay because Bicycling siad it was the best you could buy.

Anonymous said...

A concise review of the generic crop of current carbon bikes should read as follows...
"The [insert carbon bike of your choice here] is light, looks high-tec, will probably impress somebody and is expensive."
Is there really any more to it than that?
You want a nice ride? Run a wider tire at lower pressure. Carbon doesn't have any stupid vertical compliance and doesn't eat up the road-buzzies for lunch or any other crap. It's light and it has high-tec zoot factor. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but these reviews are starting to sound like those absurd "reviews" in audiophile magazines where some writer is enthusing about how much better the sound is after installing $5000 speaker wires or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I only missed one. Something is very wrong with me.

Philip Williamson said...

I missed them all. Except the first one, "hey, I'm good at this!" Ert. Dang. Nope. Huh. Whu? Oh, you can look at the status bar and damn, clicked the wrong one anyway!


James... *ahem* (behind hand)... "cachet."

Hjulcompaniet said...

Yeah, it's just like Hi-Fi mags.
Some modern carbon bikes are pretty good. You will find many with pop-riveted cable guides though. That doesn't get mentioned too much. I haven't read a bike comic in 10 years, and this is why.
Magazines (journalists) generally don't go out there to find things to write about, they wait for it to come to them. Definately not Gonzo.

dennis said...

Carbon is high tec zoot factor for sure. Back in the day when I was racing, the new buzz was aluminum. I rode one and thought this is way to harsh for me. Stayed with steel, on road, moutain, track, and even won some races on those "old school" bikes. New bike on order is steel, had to get the carbon fork though, bike shop nearly passed out when I told them I wanted a steel fork to go with my new bike!
Thanks BSNYC for the update, I didn't want to have vertical compliance anyway!
Just saying.....

James said...

Hi BSNYC,

No worries at all, and I never took anything in your original post as saying that things were false or misleading. Hell, if I were in your position, I probably would have done the same thing. This stuff is funny!

As for the proprietary bits and the relative performance of Trek's old Madone: I agree with all of you that adding proprietary bits that limit choices, make other bits obsolete, and potentially lock you into temporary technologies is not a good thing.

BUT, I'll support it if it means that something is actually legitimately improved in a substantial way (I'm sure people complained about fuel injection back in the day, too). Take Trek's take on the integrated seatpost. No, it won't take a standard post, but the flex built into the base makes for a comfier ride and removes a lot of the restrictions in frame design by having to accommodate some sort of inserted tube (ie the seatpost). And I do have to give Trek credit for making it a no-cut design that greatly eases things for dealers (how do you put someone on a test ride on a bike that has to be cut to size?) and offering six different caps to suit a wide range of anatomy. Is it proprietary? Absolutely. But it certainly isn't worse than a conventional setup in any other way, and I never thought to myself that I would have liked to switch to something else while I was riding the thing. Do I like the Thomson head better? Yup, still do, but that's not enough motivation for me to rag on this particular feature.

Bottom bracket: yup, true again, this setup ONLY allows for external-type cranksets. BUT, this frame isn't exactly going to be on the short list of 'crappy old frames that I'm going to use for a piecemeal fixie' so I'm not sure why anyone would have motivation to go with something else anyway. By allowing for Shimano, FSA, and Truvativ/SRAM standards (and everyone else that uses one of them), you can run virtually any crankset that's currently on the market. There are no threads in the shell to strip/pull out/seize, and even the 13yo kid that your local shop hired just to sweep floors and take out the trash could probably install it without screwing it up.

E2 front end: yup, another proprietary bit, but this is clearly a direction that the high-end road market is headed in. While I would ultimately love to see everyone agree on some sort of 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" standard (currently everyone's system is different, as far as I can tell), the concept makes a ton of sense. The fork crown area is subject to the greatest load, and increasing that diameter is the most effective way to stiffen things up without making anything heavier. It also makes for a correspondingly bigger head tube area, which again, stiffens things up for better handling and response. Nope, again, I can't run my favorite Chris King headset, but this seems to work great so ultimately I didn't have anything bad to say about it.

Now, about that old Madone... yup, it was a really good race bike. BUT, no one is going to convince me that it's either stiffer, lighter, OR more comfortable than the new Madone which is better in nearly every way... so far (we'll see how durable it is; those old OCLV bikes were pretty good). So Lance would have wanted a level top tube. So what. The riders on the Disco team also needed super short head tubes to accommodate their ultra-aggressive positions and ask any of your local dealers how well that works for the average consumer. There's a reason why all of those Treks in Central Park have upturned stems and a mile of spacers. Again, I have to hand it to Trek to making the new Madone in several different fits: the Performance fit works far better for your average joe, but if you want to look like George (Racing Jackets, outstretched tongue, and all), you can go with the Pro fit and have it that way, too.

Just a note on the whole 'vertical compliance' thing: would you all prefer that I just use 'squishier' or 'more comfortable'? Because that's all that means, and much as people here are bitching about it, that's precisely the ride quality that nearly everyone is looking for. Last I heard no ever heaped praise on a bike that tried to buck you off every time you ran over one of those steel plates that NYC likes to consider as reasonable asphalt patches or made your ass go numb every time you hit the 1hr mark. Yes, you could run lower air pressure, but then you're more likely to pinch flat on that aforementioned steel plate. Why not have it both ways if you can get it?

Let's see, what else... oh, yeah, fenders and stuff. Let's get real, here. How many people are really going to buy a race bike like this and intentionally thrash it in the rain outside of the Pacific NW? Even then, there are other options available like SKS's Race Blade. Nope, it's not as good as a full wrap, but it does ok. And if you're really concerned about this sort of thing, you'll all like to know that Trek's evil integrated seatpost design is also fully sealed up top. There are no holes in the top of the frame, so there's no entry point for water.

The broken spoke test: um... bring a spoke wrench! Unless you want every bike in the word to be equipped with an inch of clearance on either side of the tire, this just doesn't make sense. That guy who had to walk home didn't have to hoof it because of bad bike design; he just wasn't properly equipped for what is not an uncommon failure. That's like saying that rim manufacturers should be held at fault because you can't ride 50mi back home on a flat tire without killing your wheel. Nearly ANY wheel, be it paired spoke, aluminum spoke, steel, bladed, whatever (obviously there are exceptions) can easily be tweaked at roadside to get you home *on your bike* in the event of a snapped spoke. No big deal.

Either way, no one here is going to go out and buy one of these things just because I liked it. Any savvy shopper is at least going to do a cursory test ride of some sort, at which point I dare say that most of you will agree with what I've wrote.

And as for the comment that I'm just 'shilling' for Trek. If I'm on the Trek payroll in any way, those guys clearly must have recorded the wrong account number or address as I haven't seen any of that money come in. Yes, that review does come off as glowing, but as far as I'm concerned, it actually was that good. I doubt that any of this will change a lot of opinions, but all that I ask is that you all keep a more open mind and evaluate the facts before passing judgment.

And by the way, damn all of you for being able to go to Patsy's (the 'real' one, under the Brooklyn Bridge), any number of local delis, or bagel shops whenever you want. I've looked high and low for a $1.50 bagel and coffee (or a damned black and white cookie) since departing NY years ago and have never found one. Sure, I have clean air and mountains and stuff now, but every now and I'd almost trade it for a decent slice of pizza.

Anonymous said...

Mark said...
What holds together the carbon fibers in one of these bikes?
Epoxy.
What was it that failed and caused the ceiling to collapse in Boston's Big Dig tunnels after just a few years?
Epoxy.


Oh, yes, this is exactly the same thing. Don't drink water!, water drowns! ...think of the children

Anonymous said...

James..sorry, but no one is reading all that.

Anonymous said...

I own a $5500 CF bike (not a Trek or Specialized) with all the fancy racing bits, I've owned many bikes varying in levels based on my student status over the years.
Are full carbon bikes as great as they say they are? Of course not. Overpriced? definitely. Hype in bicycle marketing? There's BS hype in everything.
<$2000 buys a bike as efficient as any other. I commute on a $400 Dahon Jack that folds up in my office.
What's important is that you are not another twat in a 8 mpg SUV with the ironic "support the troops" ribbon sticker.

clayton said...

all that I ask is that you all keep a more open mind and evaluate the facts before passing judgment.

james, you come with high hopes. i enjoyed your comment, btw.

and to the original epoxy commenter: are you fucking kidding?

Anonymous said...

Reviews may be getting slightly redundant within the traditional cycling world, but with this cycling movement, bicycle design, aesthetic, and soul could be reinvigorated to new levels.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/nyregion/29bikes.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Who will need a fancy carbon bike, or ipod and a Smart car when you can output 5,000 watts on these bikes?

AnnaZed said...

I hate to admit it but we have those new Madones and their primary purpose at this time seems to be to make it impossible (even at reduced price) for me to sell the several old Madones that I have.

Sigh.

spandexlover said...

seriously, though - - i am always swayed by a good "J Peterman" bike reivew... i think they should take it up a notch, and just say "this bike will totally give you a boner until next year, when we put out a bike that will give you a bigger boner, but for right now, this is the biggest boner you can get."

Anonymous said...

James just face it, you're a shill. At what point did you start buying into the bullshit so heavily?

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 1:26pm...thats kind of a cheap shot...james knows from whence he speaks...

...we may be talking mass produced bikes but that is not to say they're not well engineered bikes...i won't re-iterate all the technical aspects but the bottom line 'engineering' is solid...

...there are a ton of other 'socio-economic' reasons to not drink the kool-ade perhaps & i'd buy into that line of thinking but those designers know how to build a good handling bike...

...btw, i was fortunate enough to have a ti w/ a pinch of carbon frameset built for me recently & i went for a straight top tube...makes me kind of a cycling troglodyte carrying 'all' that extra weight around...

...my point would be that while i ain't riding the all carbon mass produced bandwagon, i can still see it as valid...

Anonymous said...

I'm noticing a bunch of Madones on Seattle's Craigslist. Should there be a Madone-Dex? What would this index mean?

AndyPandy said...

Wow this has gone the full circle. It reminds me so much of the 70's surfing culture when design change started to wheen through. One ultra cool Mickey Dora put an end to the B/S factor by putting his cash up and saying the faster surfer on any water vehicle (but man powered) to surf between two predetermined points at Rincon would take the cash. The point is , if you go fast that is all that matters. If your rocks are off then great. There is no right and no wrong here

PeAK said...

Here's one bike that is vertically stiff and laterally compliant...and it's made out of wood to boot!!!

Laterally compliant bike

maria said...

I like running same wheels and tires and pressures testing stuff because it's the only way to make a judgment relative to other things... wheels and tire pressures make a HUGE difference, but there's no reason not to pay attention.
============================
maria
widecircles

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