15 november 1997

 the road bike cometh

in this column over the years, months, hours (delete as applicable) there have been screeds and screeds typed and printed regarding what we have now decided to call the 'playbike' (see last issue) and this has been, admittedly a form of playing to the gallery. this was, indeed, the populist option and guaranteed that my reader could, from time to time, feel 'cool' even though there was no real justification for this feeling.
however, in a daring and devil may care attitude, I am now happy to come out of the closet and scribble the odd word or two about road bikes. now, while most of you will already know the distinction, my reader has probably limited experience of such things and I should take time to explain. yes indeed, pretty much all velocipedes could be said to be 'road bikes' since tarmac is the most common surface under tyre but we shall here make the distinction that a 'road bike' is generally regarded, by those of us with limited interests, to be the descendent of ye olde ten speed racer and sporting dropped handlebars at the front. the other notable departure from the playbikes is the distinctive narrowness of the tyres, commonly 19 - 25mm.
currently the top of the range of this ilk sport 18 gears - two rings up front and nine in the rear. do we need so many gears? of course we do. how could anyone survive on less? these machines typically weigh between 18 and 22 pounds, move at an alarmingly fast rate and are much more fun than the mountain bike magazines would have you believe. If you are beginning to tire (pun intended) of slurping along on tarmac with big knobbly tyres, grab the first road bike that fits your bank balance and watch scores of tour de france videos. how can you fail?
think of the health and dietary benefits that will ensue. the average tour de france rider consumes between 5000 and 8000 calories per day and still loses weight. then there are the sartorial attributes - everybody suits a yellow jersey and there's a little red polka dot number for those special occasions.

maybe then, when people mention campagnolo in conversation (I always do), you will immediately be able to discuss the merits of ergo power versus downtube synchro levers and whether dura ace can be reasonably expected to have the same quality and caché as c record. In fact, if this last sentence means absolutely nothing whatsoever, you have become a sadly detached individual and are in dire need of at least a copy of cycling weekly. or is that me?
ask santa for a colnago.