Friday, December 21, 2018

Out With The Old...

Well, this is it, we're now passing under the flamme rouge on the final run-in to the holidays:



As for my wooden sleigh, with my foot on the mend I've been riding it regularly, and I think maybe the creaking's coming back:


(Boy those wheels ruin the bike's already questionable aesthetics.)

This has only strengthened my resolve to transition the Renovo from pampered bike to all-season workhorse, which I find deliciously decadent given that the retail price for this bicycle was a bladed spoke's width shy of $10,000.  Perhaps one day it will be as scuffed, worn, and familiar as the surface of the local bar, who knows?  Either that or it will collapse underneath me like a game of Jenga.  

Regardless, as a member of the highly rarefied $10K Club--albeit one who snuck in the back door as Renovo sent me the bike to review and then conveniently (for me) went out of business--I read this recent review of the Moots Routt RSL with interest:

Now, I've ridden a Moots--two in fact.  (What is the plural of Moots?  Is it "Mootses?"  Or is the plural the same as the singular, just like its phonic cousin, "moose?")  This was of course during my trip to the IMBA World Summit in Steamboat Springs in Two Thousand Aught Fourteen:



Anyway, during my visit the people at Moots were kind enough to hook me up with two (2) Mootsusses, those being this 27.5" YBB mountain bicycling-style bicycle:


And this road bicycling-style bicycle, which with its rim brakes and limited tire clearance and non-gravel specificity is of course now totally "obsolete," sarcasm intented:


Which is precisely my point.  See, I know firsthand that Moots make nice bikes.  Really nice bikes.  Like, I really wanted a Moots road bike after that ride, even though I got dropped immediately and spent the whole time lagging like 10 bike lengths behind the people with whom I was riding.  Therefore, I'll readily buy every word of James Huang's praise in his review of the Routt--except for this:

The Moots Routt RSL is anything but cheap, but I’d argue that it’s far from a bad value. It’s among the best-riding and performing gravel bikes I’ve ridden, it should be laughably durable, and it’s impeccably constructed. Everything on it — from the bottom bracket threads to the rear brake tabs to the dropout alignment — is utterly perfect. It’s a forever bike in the truest sense, and amortized over that kind of time, even this bike’s asking price suddenly seems almost reasonable.

People have been justifying titanium bikes as "the last bike you'll ever own" for as long as companies have been making bikes out of it.  However, in a delightful bit of irony, the sorts of people who buy titanium bikes are exactly the sorts of people who are unable to commit to a bicycle for more than a few years , since bicycles become "obsolete" (sarcasm intended) so quickly.  Freds used to lust after Litespeeds and Merlins whilst justifying the price because the weapons-grade titanium would survive the nuclear apocalypse, but how many of these babies do you still see rolling around?


And forget about mountain bikes:


And yes, even that Dura Ace-equipped Moots I rode a mere four years ago is already sadly outmoded by the standards of anyone shopping for such a high-end bicycle.  So while the Routt has all the de rigeur features it won't be long before it seems as quaint as that Litespeed with its threaded fork and chunky old-timey downtube cable stops and clearances optimized for 23mm tires.

Again, to be clear, I have no doubt every single bit of praise is warranted.  All I'm saying is that, whether it's made from titanium or crabon or steel or wood, an expensive high-end performance bicycle is always a terrible value, even if it's completely indestructible.  That's not to say I have anything against people who buy them--far from it.  Indeed, as a middle-aged Fred I'm long past resenting people who spend lots of money on bikes, and I'm using a goddamn Renovo as my winter trainer for chrissakes.  I just think it's important to be honest with yourself: you're gonna want some shit in a few years.  And as long as you're comfortable with that, by all means go for it.

Bikes are a funny thing: people obsess over tensile strength and fatigue life and all that sort of stuff, but by far the most destructive force is a tiny tweak in standards.  A few millimeters' change in spacing standards here and there will destroy thousands of bikes instantly.  You have been warned.

53 comments:

Kevin Curry said...

Hence why the used titanium market is such a boon for us "vintage" bike folks. My early 2000s Litespeed Pisgah has no trouble keeping up, looks awesome and I bought the thing built up to 2005ish world cup spec for about a quarter of the original frameset price.

Unknown said...

Podium?

Neil Winkelmann said...

Guy in our club is still riding a 16 year-old Litespeed. Seems just fine. He did just supplement it with a disc-braked winter/gravel Dean, though.

huskerdont said...

The plural of Moots is moot.

bad boy of the south said...

A moots point,fer sure!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Final podium spot?

Unknown said...

Santa on a bike is no biggie, but all the HELMUTS fercristsakes!

Plutarco.

wishiwasmerckx said...

My Merlin looks dated, but is still a handsome and great-riding bike.

It sometimes bothers me that my titanium bike and my titanium wristwatch will still be around for a millennia after I am have taken my leave of this mortal coil.

Moron of the Moots said...

In 2010 Moots came out with the RSL and I just had to have it. Sold a nice ti bike, spent all my savings, and got one of the first 50 with the last of the AlphaQ forks. Had a great time on it for a couple of years. Wasn't happy when 25c tire scraped the fork bridge, though. Nine years later- the roads are fucked with texters and Uber zombies so I trail run 20-30 miles a week and occasionally pop out for a couple hours on my gravel bike. I still do some big rides in the summer, but riding a Cannondale Synapse hi-mod with hefty HED Ardennes, 28c tubeless Hutchinson's with a nice comfy 70psi. The bike I ride nearly every day? A 2007 Van Dessel Country Road Bob frankensteined onto a Alfine internally hubbed wheel with a beat up Burley trailer attached to the back. They live in my garage. The Moots? Still looking great sitting in the basement attached to an indoor trainer. My $8000 trainer bike.

Some guy from upstate said...

Ti is an awesome, lustworthy material, but attempting to justify it based on longevity makes no sense. Even shitty frames last more or less indefinitely. As long as I can keep scrounging up 7-speed freewheels, 27 inch rims and tires, and 1 inch threaded headsets, I'm all set.

huskerdont said...

I dunno about frames lasting indefinitely. I've broken two aluminum frames (a Felt and a Trek). I now have six steel and one carbon bike, and I fully expect the carbon to break before the steel, although even with treating, rust could always be an issue.


BTW, Snob speaks truth, at least for me. I've probably bought half a dozen bikes since the custom steel forever bike. It is a forever bike--I'll never willingly part with it--but the heart lusts and lusts and must be satisfied. It wants titanium now.

Happy holidays all, and thanks for alleviating boredumb.

dancesonpedals said...

After 20 years on a steel fredsled, I impulsively bought a Lynskey.

It was a discontinued second tier model ("sport"), with straight gauge tubes of an unsexy alloy, but it's still titanium with ultegra and on 25% off everything day at Nashbar it was $2400, exactly what the previous bike cost. Here's to $120 a year for a bike. The next one will be a recumbent trike because in 20 years I'll be 80.



Anonymous said...

You're turning your $10k wooden bike into your workhorse?

Kudos!

Such acts of subversion deserve to be lauded.

Might I suggest your take the subversion even further? You know, like, give it a new DIY paint job? Sand away what must some very specialised and precise finishes and slap on some paint left over from when you painted the doors or something.

And install front and back racks and panniers, a handlebar basket, a customised phone holder, light fittings, a little bottle dynamo — all drilled right into the frame, of course.

Make it a YouTube series with some stupid clickbait-y title like; "What happens when you treat your $10,000 artisanal wooden bike like a $50 Huffy?"

It'll be a sensation. You could retire after that.

STG said...

I'm still racing each week on a 2013 diamondback podium carbon, with HED Ardennes and 25's with plenty of room even in Campagnolo calipers. Road bikes last about as long as you dare, the standards really don't change that much. Come on, look at all of the passion projects where people build up an old steel pinarello with a new groupset. Mountain bikes and more recently cyclocross bikes are another story, but honestly it's really not fair to poo poo on an older road bike for not being a gravel bike.

But yes Moron of the Moots, that a 25mm tire won't fit in any road fork is insane. $10,000 bikes are completely dumb, considering just HOW GOOD low and mid range bikes are. For every master racer on an S-Works Venge there is a kid beating him on an Allez without a front mech.

BikeSnobNYC said...

STG,

Of course road bikes last roughly forever--but the fact of the matter is people are fickle and in a few years nobody will want road frames without disc brake mounts and cable routing for Di2, which is why the idea of a "forever" bike as justification is laughable. (Though I guess even cables are going away so...)

--Tan Tenovo

Mark said...

Forever bikes can't last many upgrade cycles. No bike lasts many without a lot of kludges.

Forks went from 1" to 1-1/8", threaded to threadless, then tapered steerer tubes. Yeah, try finding a new fork that not only matches the steerer tube and headset, but also brakes, offset and axle-to-crown.

Stems: quill to threadless. Matching handlebars: 25.4 for the old cheap ones, 26.0 or 26.2 depending on the brand, to 31.8, or maybe even 35mm.

Luckily rear spacing hasn't changed that much: 120mm five speed to 126 six/seven speed, to 130, maybe 135mm for mountiain bike and disc, then 142mm for thru axle, then bigger for Boost plus or whatever.

Bottom brackets have been fine for forever bikes, so long as you started threaded. Maybe you were unlucky enough that your English threaded bottom bracket needed to be enlarged and tapped out to Italian, but otherwise threaded standards haven't changed much. And if you did get press fit, you really weren't thinking "forever" was all that long.

Where was I going with all this? Ummm... a forever bike is fine if you're fine with it becoming vintage, but if you want it to keep up with technology, it's not going to work.

Pist Off said...

“Passion project” is one of those recent terms that makes me reach for the nearest sharp object. What kinda colorway are you imaging for your passion project, asshole?

I love the daily beater Renovo project. Keep it going, remember it cost you nothing. Maybe it needs some aerobars. And flat pedals, or clips. That free Renovo (with Di2!) made this whole Snobblog thing worthwhile in my mind, even if you had never become a part of cycling “culture.”

Anyone who buys something they call a “forever bike” just plans to have it forever. I don’t know what I’d do if I could only have one bike and neither does anyone reading this. Few can buy a bike to be their one bike forever- I salute them, it must take a lot less free time. Ti would be a good choice for that.

Blog Drafter said...

2006 Synapse, third set of wheels, 2nd set of components except for the BB (original). I took the computer off @ 15,000 miles after reading one too many Snobposts about the silliness of gadgets, and that was probably 8,000 miles ago or so. I used to think if they ever come out with electronic shifting and disc brakes I'd replace it but now that they have I think, No F'ing Way. It's a sexy nude carbon black. I call it Big Red. $2,500 end of year sale price...it has amortized quite well.

Merry Christmas all!

Some Mormon Guy said...

Bikes are like wives; you can't stop at one, and why get rid of a perfectly good old one just because she's lost that new wife smell?

Get a new wife (or a couple of 'em), but don't get rid of the old.

TROO DATT said...

"by far the most destructive force is a tiny tweak in standards. A few millimeters' change in spacing standards here and there will destroy thousands of bikes instantly"

HD said...

2004 CF bike. Not $10k at the time, but list was $4k (I didn't pay that much). 40k miles, and it's still perfectly fine, except the only place you can get new 9-speed Shimano components is from some guy on eBay in the Ukraine. I suspect that's how they are getting old Soviet nuclear components out of the country.

So when this last used chainset dies, that'll be it for that bike. These KSLs won't support 10/11 speed components, so I'd need to buy new wheels. At some point you start thinking that money is better put into a new bike or at least that's what the G&T said late one night when I pressed the BUY button.

I've already bought a couple extra sets of chainrings. That'll see me out as my old pa used to say about the six-pack he just brought home. But it'll probably be the disk brakes I won't be able to find in 10 years. If I can find anything in ten years.

The new bike is nice. But the old bike is still faster...

Drock said...

This is for all the math and spelling wizards out their. See I started their.
100% of ridin’ is fun, unless you worry about frame material. 80% of that fun is in your mind telling you it’s fun. The remainder %’s is pain/hurt/descrimantion. #Mefirst, don’t worry driving an Audi will make you just a small bit more like me, expect me is way to cool to ever be seen in a visor with my favorite golf corse embroider on it. Just burn it up and get it over with. And them wood bikes can’t be good for our health. Go adhead and self correct, we don’t wish to see how smart you are with your comments.

BikeSnobNYC said...

HD,

Confused--why would the bike be able to use 9 speed but not 10 speed?

--Tan Tenovo

Chazu said...

The three, four inch long, titanium screws used to surgically reassemble my left femur after I crashed on my titanium Merckx (made by Litespeed, when Litespeed was owned by Lynskey, I'm like a broken record with this) will be around long after my body turns to soil, or ash, or whatever my family decides to do with my corpse.

Happy Holidays! (<--- hope I didn't trigger a Christmas Fred with that)

cdinvb said...

Couple of mid 90s (last century) Trek mountain bikes. What ever wheels came on the bike except for one new one where a driver didn't stop on red, and I got a little crunched. Bought one bike new. Other one in a yard sale for hundred bucks. Every now and then I get out the nearly new (ten years old) TCR b/c it is fun, but it's not much good on Florida sand roads.

Beck the biker said...

A sure sign a frame has been ridden into the ground is when the chainstays disconnect from the bottom bracket. Been there, done that, twice. It could be quite the splintering experience on the Renovo's matchstick chainstays, Rapha might make a kevlar-infused 'gravel and bramble' kit that would lend some protection. Have you stopped in a Rapha store lately? A veritable rider's clubhouse, with couches and espresso,lofty talk of obscure routes ond rides of yore.

Jonathan Bouchard said...

Sorry if my comment is outdated but Renovo bikes were in the 10,000$ range? Seriously? I am really surprised, and no kidding that these guys went out of business! Nothing on this bike justifies such prices. I had seen them here and there on Social Media over the last year but never thought that they were such money-grabbers :(

Wesley Bellairs said...

Excess ain't rebellion: you're buying what they're selling!
--Cake

Schisthead said...

All I'm saying is that, whether it's made from titanium or crabon or steel or wood, an expensive high-end performance bicycle is always a terrible value, even if it's completely indestructible.

Regular people who just like to ride have an excellent reason to dislike high end stuff when it's justifying continual churning frame and parts obsolescence down the line to mid and low end bikes, usually for little to no practical benefit to the rider.

/grinch

Have fun riding over the holidays. :)

Anonymous said...

There are still plenty of 9-speed shimano components out there; Campy not so much.

Haywood Jablome said...

Hi

Adam said...

I understand the appeal of a titanium fred sled superbike, having bought a litespeed recently.

I wasn't quite sure how they justify the price of that frame, super not sure how the Moots frameset justifies double that again. Good grief.

Bill Garlinghouse said...

I want to believe that the all-Campy Nuevo Record Colnago I saw hanging in a Naples bike shop while I was on the USS Eisenhower back in ‘78 would still be my forever bike...

Der Kringle said...

Re: HD/9 Speed "only".

That "bootleg" frame may be spaced in the rear as 130mm/OldSkoolz/"9SpeedOnlY", whereas most "modern" road groupos are 135mm, no?
Not for nothin', but I'm sure there's a kludge.

Olle Nilsson said...

Happy Festivus!

For the rest of us.

Helen Smart said...

I actually agree with the bike-for-life idea now I'm over 60, as long as the bike is a flat bar commuter. Those bikes are seriously versatile - skim along the concrete bike path on Friday, whack some panniers on and ride the dirt roads / trails on Saturday. But I'm an Older Person. I don't want to do the downhill mountain stuff.
My bike-for-life is this (The Edinburgh. I also have a W3 for rainy days and being a fashion victim.). Not really a promo, cos they have gone out of business too. But a beautiful bike.

http://www.ponybikes.com/2014/05/13/allegro-bikes-on-sale/

Where I disagree is, if you're looking to amortise the cost of an expensive bike over its lifetime, you're up against the very real possibility of Bike Thieves. My best bikes have attracted unwelcome attention. So far the Edinburgh has escaped - fingers crossed.

Ellie said...

I'm recommending the '52 Schwinn Hornet for your holiday riding. It's a great workout! Have fun! Ride on, ride on.

George Krpan said...

Motobecane has a bunch of titanium bikes, road, gravel, fatbikes, PlusBikes, 29ers.
You can have titanium for the price of aluminum from Specialized, Trek, Cannondale,.....

Il Pirata est Mort said...

All frames will fail if you ride them to failure. Keep pedaling!

wle said...

"A few millimeters' change in spacing standards here and there will destroy thousands of bikes instantly. You have been warned."

--no, what that does is make really nice stuff really cheap


--i;ve got $7500 worth of dura-ace kleins(just 2, a purple one and a green one),
for $950 total - after they were 15 years old


--but still basically unridden.

bad boy of the south said...

The lobiest of holidays to all! Be safe in all your bikey travels.

Unknown said...

Loved Renono bikes and visited their factory in Portland a few years ago. Currently have a Calfee bamboo but mostly ride an old, (now rather beat up) up Co-Motion Americano which was a special order, not picked up, left over frame from the factory - extended top tube - no toe overlap (!)

One of these days I'll cough up the dough for a reasonable machine and agree that Moots is a great way to go. Also love SEVEN and other titanium bits of art. Living in The Bay Area we have more money poured into bicycling than you could imagine (well, maybe you could - imagine)

Anonymous said...

Just when you think this blog is having a slow but sure death, comes BSNYC with another quote for history.

"by far the most destructive force is a tiny tweak in standards. A few millimeters' change in spacing standards here and there will destroy thousands of bikes instantly".

Saved into my bike quotes' list. Thanks for that, from someone with a 1992 steel mtb still as primary bike.

John P McMahon said...

I have a Surly for touring and a Brompton for travel, but my go-to bike for riding around Pittsburgh is built on a 1979 or 80 Suntour Racer frame that I bought from a homeless guy along with mangled brakes and a tacoed front wheel for 35 bucks. It's steel, but incredibly light, nimble, and the perfect size for me. It's beautifully made, and the butts are like pieces of art in themselves. I get a lot of nice comments on it from other riders. Would I trade it for a 10 grand titanium or wooden sled if given the opportunity? Probably not, so I guess it is a lifetime bike.

Artie Lange said...

I'd love to have a 10,000 dollar bike but I used all my money on heroin.

peace,
noseless, Artie.

Sébastien Lamarre said...

I am still riding my 1992 Kona Hei Hei titanium frame. Original parts are front derailleur (ShimXT) and its front thumbshifter, the handlebar. Notable upgrades: rear v-brake (rendering the nice noodle cable guide obsolete) and a rigid titanium fork with a front disc brake.

My road bike is a much more cecent model... 2006 Litespeed Siena, also equiped with a titanium fork from Rikulau.

Not planning on changing, even as the 50th "life time dream gift to myself" is around the corner.

bad boy of the south said...

Sad day for me.Bicycle Times,a fine print mag when it was published, is now closing its digital format as well.
Dirt Rag continues in print and in digital.
That is all.

Captain Obvious said...

Maybe the creaking is in your foot?

JLRB said...

I use a different amortization to justify my bicycle purchases - each commute mile is worth whatever the IRS mileage rate is for the year ($0.58 for 2019). So if I commute 3,000 miles in the year it justifies $1,740 in bike purchase/maintenance/supplies. It would take 6 years to justify a $10k bike, but I've never spent that much on any of my bikes - including three Ti framed beauties.

I agree with the post and prior comments to the effect that: 1. most bike nerds will always buy another bike regardless of the lifetime purchase
2. changes in technology make stuff cheaper for people that do not need to be n the cutting edge.

Happy 2019

Anonymous said...

Tan, That is the best shit you've said in a long time!!!! By far!!!!! - masmojo

Anonymous said...

JLRB, a nice way to look at it, but there's always the fudge factor; Say you rode 10,000 miles, by that rationale you could buy a $5,800 bike, but what if your $5,800 bike gets stolen? My barometer is how nice of a bike can I buy and not be totally gutted if it gets stolen? This is a tough call as well, because I have cheap bikes that I'd hate to lose just as much as some of the expensive ones. Can't put a dollar value on sentiment, magic or mojo. - Masmojo

Tony Boughman said...

Interesting as usual. I disagree that buying a expensive bike is ALWAYS a terrible investment. In 1992 I bought a new Santana Picante tandem which was fillet brazed Columbus Nivacrom tubing. Abnormally for me, I bought a big-ticket item as an investment in a relationship. The price in 1992 was $3600. I loved riding it and looking at it then, and now, and have ridden it consistently all these years. But I am biased because I'm a big fan of the old fully rigid mountain bike and view it as the most versatile bicycle configuration ever.

Anonymous said...

I rode the Adventure Cycling Association Southern Tier route across the bottom of the USA in Dec'18/Jan'19 on a 1994 Merlin mountain bike equipped with a steel fork, drop handlebars and very comfortable Compass Rat Trap Pass tires. The old bike worked great and rode over a hundred miles most days. Old hardtail titanium mountain bike are great!