Monday, November 27, 2017

This Title Is 100% Free Of Wood Puns

...aaand we're back.

When last we met I'd been getting acquainted with two (2) pieces of bicycling equipment.  One was the Jones H-Bar, with which I equipped my 27.5+ all-terrain bicycle:

And the other was the Renovo Aerowood, a complete bicycle featuring the latest in Fredware such as crabon wheels and electronical shifting, as well as plenty of, you know, wood:

So did I get a chance to spend more time with this stuff over the American Thanksgiving Reese's?  Yes.  Was it as much time as I would have liked?  No.  Do I ask too many rhetorical questions?  Absolutely.  In fact I feel another one coming on as I type this.  So let's start with the Aerowood, shall we?

Now keep in mind this is in no way meant to be a comprehensive review, or really any kind of a review.  Indeed, I don't believe you can even begin to review a bicycle until you've worn through a set of tires and at least one (1) chain.  So consider everything that follows sort of an "advanced first impression."  (My actual first impressions are here in this Outside column.)


Appearance is of course subjective, and to be perfectly honest if you gave me a big pile of cash on the condition that I had to spend it on the coolest-looking (to me) bicycle I could find or else you'd burn it all, this would not be the bicycle I'd choose.  As far as velocipedes go, swoopy and woody is not my thing, and I prefer round tubes made of metal.  A matte finish is even better, and silver drivetrain components better still, which is why as far as road bikes go I've always been pleased with the look of my Milwaukee:

Nevertheless, when face-to-face with the Aerowood there's no denying this is an impressive piece of work, and while it may not suit my almost pathologically modest and stodgy aesthetic sensibility it's quite obvious why plenty of people would find it highly desirable, especially since it's so unusual.  Indeed, I'd even go so far as to say it's exquisite:

I also fully admit I feel like hot shit while I'm riding it, despite the fact I've let my leg hairs grow back and only have like two pairs of bib shorts left that don't have holes in them.

Ride Quality

Here's how VeloNews ranks bicycles:

Just stop it.

As far as the Aerowood, it fits me well so I'm very comfortable on it.  It also feels very fast and smooth, and I could happily spend all day on it.  Could that be because of the frame material?  Sure.  Do the ostensible aero properties of the bike and wheels contribute to this sensation?  Quite possibly.  Is this rhetorical question thing becoming a serious problem that may require some sort of aversion therapy, perhaps a small electrical shock administered whenever I depress the "?" key?  Almost certainly.

Keep in mind however I still haven't swapped the wheels with my other bikes or done any of the other stuff you need to do to properly evaluate a bicycle.  Indeed I'm fairly confident that if you bolted some crabon wheels and push-button shifting onto a BikesDirect special then that would feel like a $10,000 bike too.  I should also point out that when I hop back onto my metal road bikes those also continue to feel awesome, despite the fact that they all utilize primitive alloy rims and require me pull my derailleurs across my gears by means of levers and cables.

In short, the bike feels great, but I'll soon put some cheap-ass wheels on it to see if it still feels great.  I'll also see if one of my other bikes feels differently great with the crabon wheels from the Aerowood.  (The only reason I haven't yet is because I've been too lazy to swap cassettes and brake pads.)

Quirks and Quibbles

1. The bike only has mounts for one water bottle.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, as a recovering Fred still trying to divest myself of my lingering Fredly tendencies, I happen to believe in riding with only one water bottle because it encourages me to stop.  On the other hand...come on now.  Only one water bottle, really? 

2. The bike I'm testing has 23mm tires, which are like sooo out of style, and due to the aero fairing-type situation out back it can't clear much more than that.  Of course this isn't a problem in practice since the bike rides great with 23s (contrary to current tire fashion sensibilities 23s are still perfectly fine for most road riding), but you still want to be able to go wider for the same reason you want to be able to use more than one water bottle--and to that end Renovo have since updated the clearance, rendering everything I've just typed moot:

The Aerowood sports a shrouded rear wheel (newly updated with clearance for 28mm tires) and aero downtube with a carbon-fiber layer inside to enhance ride quality as well as an updated seat mast fairing to reduce wind resistance.

They've also got all sorts of other all-terrain bikes so the arborphile who requires additional clearance is more than covered.  Presumably if your road bikes involve lots of dirt then this isn't the model you'd pick anyway. 

3. I am currently experiencing loud creaking when climbing, and while I'm sure it's the bike and not my body I haven't yet determined its exact source.  My suspicion is that it's the rear wheel, though I'll find out for sure when I finally swap wheels, and I promise to keep you posted.  On a related note, there's also a tiny bit of play in the headset I haven't been able to adjust out, and I'll have to pop another spacer on top of the stem to see if maybe it's just a steer tube length issue.  Finally, while toeing in the brakes did mitigate the ungodly shrieking I was getting when braking, it's not gone altogether. 

So as you can see I've got some work to do before I can consider this thing "dialed in."  That's fairly typical of any new bike, though it would be nice not to have to deal with it at all.


The bike I'm testing is expensive:

Is it more than I would pay for this bike?  Yes.  Is it more than I would pay for any bike?  Yes.  Am I starting to kind of enjoy the electrical shock administered every time I depress the "?" key?  Sorta. 

But how expensive is it really in the exotic Fred bike universe?  Well, here's what you get in a high-end plastic racing bike for approximately the same price:

On one hand, the plastic race bike is lighter has Dura Ace instead of Ultegra, which I suppose means something to the anal retentive set but doesn't mean shit to me.  On the other hand, if you're paying $10,000 for a road bike you probably crave attention from strangers, and you'll get a lot more of that when you roll up at the group ride straddling a maple tree that was hand-hewn in Portland.  And perhaps most crucially, Renovo is having a sale:

So yes, obviously you can buy a top-notch metal bicycle and have lots of money left over for what you'd spend on a Renovo, but as I pointed out in the Outside column it's really no more expensive than any other performance status symbol, and at least you're paying for the crafstmanship and not the pro racing team the company sponsors like you are when you're buying a Pinarello or whatever.

I'd rather keep some Potlanders in after-work craft beers than keep some Euro-pros in Ferarris.

(Actually I'd rather keep the money for myself, but there are people in this world who like to buy expensive bicycles and that's ultimately a good thing for the rest of us so long may they spend.)

Anyway, I don't want to overwhelm you so soon after the holidays so I'll leave it at that, but I'll report back tomorrow with my take on the Jones bars.


Anonymous said...

and I read it....
Welcome back

BamaPhred said...

Nice woody review

Anonymous said...

"...there are people in this world who like to buy expensive bicycles and that's ultimately a good thing for the rest of us so long may they spend."

I disagree. The fact that there are people out there willing to drop a shit ton of money on bicycles is why we're sold all sorts of pointless new upgrades and component standards, and why people think they need hydraulic disc brakes and carbon frames, etc.

Also, being self-aware and self-deprecating about the fact that you're riding and reviewing a $10,000 wooden road bike doesn't change the fact that you're riding and reviewing a $10,000 wooden road bike.

Anonymous said...

hey whatcha doing down there.

Anonymous said...


Cameron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron said...

Podio! That extra trainer time over the holidays is really starting to pay off!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 10:58am,

I dunno, for all my making fun of bike marketing I think the choice of standard, relatively inexpensive bikes with non-gimmicky stuff on them may be better than ever.

As for riding and reviewing a $10,000 wooden bike, why would I feel the need to change that? It's exactly why I wanted to try the bike: I wanted to try an expensive, exotic bike that I never would have gotten a chance to ride otherwise. I have zero compunctions about that.

--Wildcat Etc.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Late to the party, SCRANUS!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

"Appearance is of course subjective, and to be perfectly honest if you gave me a big pile of cash on the condition that I had to spend it on the coolest-looking (to me) bicycle I could find or else you'd burn it all, this would not be the bicycle I'd choose."

You could spend the big pile of cash on the Renovo and then burn that instead.

Chazu said...

That's like one Bitcoin per bike.

Cyclists taking themselves too damn seriously is standard practice. I'm no exception, but my fredliness has been in remission for years. That means I'm unlikely to buy another bike for at least a decade, and it means I'm "stuck" with bikes made of 853 steel and Lynskey-crafted titanium.

My bikes are relics of my fredliness. The thought of spending five figures on another bike, or even mid-four figures, has about the same appeal as the thought of getting a tattoo on my face.

DaveD said...

"Endust" makes sense for an after-ride bike wipe down, but for long term care, would "Old English", Miracle Furniture Polish, or Orange Glo work best? My Ethan Allen furniture polish is past the "use by" date.

N/A said...

Nice words on the Woody Bike. I was thinking that if those things take off and become the next big Fred thing, then Park Tools and Pedros will have to re-brand Pledge as their wood-bike-specific bike cleaner stuff. What a time to be alive!

Welcome back, Wildcat.
Hope everybody's long weekend was... long. And weekendy. And filled with much gnarly riding.

dop said...

Nothing wrong with Bikesdirect specials.

leroy said...

Well this explains why my dog's karaoke set list for this evening contains the Jefferson Airplane classic Eskimo Blue Day:

Say it plainly
The Ultegra chain
Doesn't mean shit to a tree.

(Change the strings and notes slide
Change the bridge and string shift down
Shift the notes and bridge sings)

Oh well, at least he hasn't penciled me in for that Monty Python lumberjack number.

McFly said...

23mm? Just rasp file that bitch open. Don't use a flat bastard....use one of them round muthafukka's.

Anonymous said...

So the wooden bike has crabon inside it? For those times when one douche is not enough ...

Is it a rhetorical question if you answer it?

Loves the Woodcycle said...

Enjoyed the Renovo review. I'm still waiting for the termite jokes.

Hope that everyone's Thanksgiving was fantastic. Me? So nice of you to ask, I did a Thanksgiving loop around lower Manhattan on a borrowed steed with a basket and a too-low seat - but what a day!

Happy Leftovers!

N/A said...

How many rhetorical questions can you possibly fit into one post?

atom bomb said...

Good reviews. When are you going to review the halfbike? (It’s actually a trike....)

Anonymous said...

An Aerowo-o-o-od
To ride in the city
It’s all the same to me
When I'm riding a tree
The borough’s my home
When I'm mobile

wle said...

Snobster - I thought you said you had finally had brake shoe toe-in work, for the first time in history, to stop squealy brakes, are you rescinding that...?....

wle said...

I also like the idea of installing junky wheels to see if the fancy bike still feels fancy :)

Anonymous said...

Nothing more annoying than "self-interview" questions and answers. "Am I interviewing myself? Yes I am." zzzzzzzzzzzz

Deeply Involved said...

Presumably if your road bikes involve lots of dirt...
Dirt-involved road bikes. Sad.

My road bikes have wholesome lifestyles, despite being mostly just above and contacting the dirt, but I suspect YOUR road bikes involve not only dirt, but SLEAZE!
You are in one of the international centers of filth: NYC!

Knüt Fredriksson said...

On my way to work this morning I spotted a rent asunder pie-plate lying on the ground. There were no cyclists anywhere near the scene, but there were a large number of loitering geese. I suspect that the geese knocked the rider off of their bike, ripped the pie-plate off, threw the bike in the nearby pond and then ate the rider.
I can't prove any of this... but, you know... geese!

JLRB said...

is feeling like hot shit good or bad?

SoonerNate said...

I don’t think a wooden bicycle is for me, but reading about it has me thinking about what I need in a dream bike.
Riding is the point. If I have to work overtime to afford a bike, then I’m not riding. Riding an old bike with heavy wheels is, in the final calculation, more valuable than working instead so I can afford the baddest whip on the planet. When someone drops a bag of loot in my lap, I’m buying a Moots.

Anonymous said...

The wood bike looks:
a. Bad
b. Reeeally dorky
c. Ridiculous
d. All of the above

& really snob, what bike creaks & shrieks when it is brand new?? I've owned about 20 bikes, none in my experience. The headset/fork/spacer thing happens often, not creaks & shrieks

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 12:08pm,

Lots of new bikes creak since the integrated bottom bracket came into fashion. I'd certainly be pretty annoyed if I were a paying customer, and once I figure out what it is I'll report.

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

"I'd rather keep some Potlanders in after-work craft beers than keep some Euro-pros in Ferarris." You're not helping any Euro-pros buy Ferraris Snobby. More like inflating the bank accounts of the LVMH folks