Monday, May 20, 2019

New Outside Column, Plus Bike Tech Analysis!

I've got a new Outside column published on the World Wide Internet and it's about how just because you don't see something that doesn't mean it's not happening (and yes, that's a double-negative, or maybe even a triple negative):

And no, I don't know why the image they used is an ebike in the desert, so don't ask.

Moving on, this past Friday I engaged in BIKE TEST SCIENCE!  First of all, after a solid couple weeks of riding my new-to-me titanium bike on an almost-daily basis, on Friday I switched to my almost-brand-new plastic Fred Sled and was thus able to make a back-to-back comparison:

Before I go any further, I do realize this isn't really science, because:

1) I didn't use any deflection-measuring apparatus (although arguably my highly calibrated perineum might qualify);

B) Both bikes have different wheels and parts, in that the titanium bike features sort of a "greatest hits" of early 21st Century Fredness, whereas the plastic bike is all OEM aluminum and crabon save for the Dura Ace group.

Nevertheless, both bikes have tires of similar width, and both tires just happen to be from Specialized, though the plastic bike has Turbo something-or-other and the titanium bike has Roubaix something-or-other.  And, aesthetic considerations aside, the two bikes are actually pretty similar in terms of size and geometry.

Anyway, after comparing both bicycles back-to-back, I have drawn the following highly scientific conclusion:

The titanium bike definitely rides better.

That doesn't mean the plastic bike rides poorly; in fact quite the opposite.  It's a light, smooth, and great-handling bike, and I feel super-duper fast on it, even though I'm slow as a leaky GU packet on a cold day.  The titanium bike however is quite noticeably smoother on rough pavement, of which there is a lot around here.  So while the plastic bike is absolutely ideal for riding fast around the park in circles (which is precisely what I got it for), when it comes to choosing a bike for a long, meandering ride the titanium bike is a total no-brainer.  (I mean the titanium bike would also be great for riding around the park in circles I'm sure, but I'd need to change the cassette and chainrings for that at the very least, and I'd prefer not to do that since I'm enjoying the low gearing that's on there now, plus from what I can tell the new Campagnolo chainrings are both expensive and hard to find.)

But again, it's always possible that the parts are helping to inform this impression to some degree, and to know for sure I'd have to equip both frames with exactly the same parts, which I'll never, ever bother to do.

And while I was deep in the throes of science, I also briefly switched wheels on the titanium bike:

This I did for three (3) reasons:

1) I'd been hearing a troublesome noise, and I wanted to see if was coming from the wheels (it looks like it was, and so far ditching the dainty Mavic skewers for some proper ones seems to have done the trick);

B) I wanted to see if Campagnolo 10 speed will indeed shift a 10-speed Shimano cassette (It shifted with about 90% accuracy without my making any adjustments, so I imagine with a couple turns of the barrel adjuster it would work fine);

III) I wanted to see if the titanium bike had room for 28mm tires, which indeed it does:

I'd been worried about the rear brake as the spring protrudes beneath the caliper arms, but in practice it appears that won't be a problem.  This made me happy, because it means this 18 year-old titanium bike just happens to be pretty much exactly what I'd want if I were ordering a custom road frame, in that it has a threaded bottom bracket, a standard head tube, and adequate tire clearances.  (I mean sure, maybe I'd consider disc brakes since it's all going that way anyway, but in the meantime I'm more than happy with my primitive rime breaks.)

Then over the weekend I confirmed my test results by racing the plastic bike on Saturday and enjoying a peaceful morning ride on Sunday:

Well, peaceful apart from the goose attack.  See, all the mother geese were out with their goslings:

And at one point, on a narrow section of path where I had no choice but to pass a family of them somewhat closely, an enraged anatid came at me, hissing like a puncture.  Fortunately it didn't make contact, but as I closed my eyes and ducked this was all I could see in my mind:

The horror, oh the horror.


skydave said...


Serial Retrogrouch said...

...the future is PLASTIC!

Anonymous said...


Some guy from upstate said...

No worries, having thoughtfully removed your pie-plates, I'm certain you were safe from goose attack.

Farmer's Daughter was fabulous again, thanks for asking. There was a couple (I don't know if they were a "couple", it was a man and woman with similar kit and matching bikes) up from "the city" with some really elegant artisanlly-lugged cantilever-braked bikes, which remained oddly clean due to studious avoidance of all the muddy off-road sections. The bikes were beautiful, but I'm not sure the point of attending an event like this with a bicycle you don't want to get dirty.

Bender said...

why the image they used is an ebike in the desert?

mikeweb said...

I began to embark on a ride Sunday a.m. along just about that same route as yours, but alas, the front derailleur on my early-90s vintage Paramount refused to shift to the small ring when I reached the ascent of Riverdale ave. shortly after 230th St. Upon inspection, one of the pivot pins was... missing. Ugh.

Anyway, I did the ride later on my plastic fred-sled.

Riding south on the old Putnam trail through Van Cortland I came to the conclusion that the NYC parks dept. really needs to apply a bit of TLC to it. Not necessarily paving it, but removal of the old railroad ties then grading it and applying some small gravel would do the trick.

dancesonpedals said...

What is it with you and noises in the bike? Did it ever occur to you that the bike is fine, but your ears are ringing? Before you try one more home remedy for the creaking frame, please go to an audiologist and get this checked out. it's probably all that rock and roll you listened to as a kid.

Pist Off said...

Perineum-based testing and measurement? Oh, you mean scranalysis.

BikeSnobNYC said...


I actually do have pretty bad tinnitus, probably for exactly the reason you posit, but if anything that should drown out the noise and not the other way around.


They need to just pave it. I'd love a more groomed unpaved surface, but I imagine it wouldn't be ADA compliant. Plus the entire South/North County is paved so it makes sense to have a paved connector.

--Tan Tenovo

Coincidence? I think not said...

" . . .even though I'm slow as a leaky GU packet on a cold day."

You must have seen ME out riding this weekend - I am that description.

Dooth said...

I have a Cinelli titanium stem in my spare parts bin, if you’re double titanium a metallic double negative?

Rick said...

You "duck"ed when a goose attacked? After that, did you run around a circle of your friends?

Anonymous said...

Yeah what he said

Anonymous said...
Have fun with this!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 2:59pm,

I did, in 2016:

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

With the Renovo being shipped out, you need a new nickname.  Here are a few suggestions
- Ti Tanium
- Ti Lightspeed
- Ti L. Speed
- Tuscany Ti
- M. Tipollini
- Tiscranusaurus Hex

ktache said...

Is it wrong to like the look of the late 80s early 90s Bianchi MTB.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting "rats fucking" into a major outdoor recreation magazine!

huskerdont said...

In my continual back-and-forth undecidednessfullishness, this week I've come to the temporary permanent conclusion that I will not get a titanium bike ... because I don't want one. But I've found my plastic bike to be a little smoother than the steel bikes on bumps unless I take about 10% out of the air out of the tires from my regular overpressurizing. With a little less pressure, they're about the same.

Sunday I got the custom-steel-that-shall-not-be-ridden-in-the-rain out (the yellow one with brazes so fine that bees try to mate with it) and fixed the front shifting problem by replacing the brake cable. Then I went for a hill ride without first checking the rear shifting. Because I'm smart. The 11-speed had turned into a 9-speed, which I discovered on the first steep hill. The barrel adjuster was all the way out, so I decided to ride it out and fix it on the stand rather than fiddling with it. I continue to find new ways to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Rime breaks over dicks, or dicks over rimes? I time and place for everything.

der blaue Reiter said...

Dude, the illustration photo Outside chose is obviously a biblical reference: the e-bike is wandering in the desert, waiting for the messiah to liberate it from the mayor’s oppressive ban... I’ll grant you it was a more metaphorical choice than i would have expected.

PS, still think the world could use your take on the new pool noodle “hack”.

James Thurber said...

I've got two sons (that I know about). One swears by titanium, the other . . . carbon. They claim that their bikes are THE best and the other guy's? Total garbage.

I'm retired, a former public school teacher, so it's really a question of money. I ride steel. Water can be a problem, sweat even more so. But this "rapidly turning orange" rusty hulk has taken to Banff, up and down the Icefield Parkway, a lengthy tour of the Pacific Coast, and on several races across Oregon. So it works.

But assuming I come into some money would you suggest Ti for a future ride? Titanium is rapidly coming down in price. Carbon? Cheap? Sure, if it's built in China and before the TTC hits (TTC = Trump Tariff Crap) Thanks for listening. PS: That is my real name, not a nom de plume (as it were).

Chazu said...

Life beyond my windshield?

You're referring to the universe within my television/phone/laptop/tablet, right?

Well, I have that covered, because I watch "my shows" while driving. So, I'm clearly a fully engaged member of society. Ain't no tasking like multitasking, baby!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the sock puppets.

STG said...

@Snob you may want to replace the return spring on your record rear brake. That spring eventually fails and when it does, it can rip rip the tire open. Seen it a couple times, might as well be proactive.


huskerdont said...

Surprised any pizza delivered by eBike would be hot enough to burn your mouth.

For Mr. Thurber, apparently the royalties from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" etc. were not enough to afford crabon or Ti.

skydave said...

Looking at your segment PR's, one would have to conclude that the titanium bike is actually faster than the plastic!
Apple Watch isn't very Fredly, you'll have to get a Garmin 1030 or whatever the latest computer is.

Beck the biker said...

"Pocketa pocketa pocketa." Rare to find to opportunity to drop that reference these days, thanks huskerdont. My random thoughts on the dual Outside/BSNYC posts... The war on bikes has never stopped, there's backlash all around, while America wallows in congestion and certaintity that the bike lanes are what's causing all the hassle with their commutes....Titaninum omdirectionally compliant..... Carbon is like aluminum's snobby frat boy cousin.....don't sweat the unscientific comparisions, which is is kind of what makes BQ's reviews so rollicking and readable... I have a strict rule against purchasing bikes that doesn't have threaded bottom brackets, standard head tubes, and adequate tire clearances....I wonder, given the trend toward bigger tires on road bikes, when higher end gruppos start coming with LR brakes and standard reach get relegated like single pivots to the dust bins of history. "Pocketa pocketa pocketa."

Anonymous said...

I work as a mechanic (the greenest and slowest one) in arguably one of the better shops in my area. I ride several bikes per month of this make with the same components and similar tires as my Bianchi Vigorelli (steel w/ carbon fork). All of them have carbon forks, none of them are lighter, some are significantly heavier, but they all damp high frequency vibration better than my bike, not that I'm hung up on that.

Die free said...

Clearly the goose didn't think you were maintaining appropriate passing distances.

Come to think of it I respond similarly to close automobile encounters. You are lucky the goose was in a forgiving mood and just reminding you to not be like an arsehole driver.

JLRB said...

Duck, Duck, Scranus

Anonymous said...

The argument to Bike in New York (or anywhere they are deemed a Nuisance)is that it's a new paradigm. When Trolley and trains first appeared it was assumed that if people went faster than 16-18MPH they would pass out and crash. When cars first appeared they were afraid they would Spook the horses (and maybe they did, but I think horses got used to them)
We shouldn't just have a knee jerk reaction to Scooters, Share Bikes or E-bikes, we should just sit back and see how things develop. When a critical mass is achieved the way forward will be clear and a consensus more easily reached.

AND maybe E-bikes are riding on the sidewalks, because the streets are overcrowded with cars and unsafe!!! Ya think????? masmojo