Thursday, 18 March 2010
Three Days, Three Bikes, Three Routes
So, while I love them all, here's my assessment of the three bikes.
The Dahon. It folds, it has a single speed and a coaster rear brake so charmingly simple. You can take it anywhere, jump out of the small car or train and be on the road with the freedom of a bike in seconds. No security problems, you take it with you anywhere. On the flip side, it is slow - the 64" gear is a great general purpose ratio but....slow. Cadence to get to 18mph is high, nothing higher is practical. And, those rear wheel 178mm spokes are rare as hens teeth.
The LeMond. My full carbon roadie, like the Trek Madone. On this bike I feel like I can fly, climb every mountain (oops wrong show). Acceleration, speed, control, has it all. It's like the difference between a family saloon and a Ferarri. Yesterday's ride through the centre of town with a 15mph average was fun. But, that was in the morning. On the way home, roads were more crowded, kamikaze pedestrians in London were particularly tiresome. And the state of London roads did very little for my back which was painful. What that ride home did do was to confirm in my mind that on the roadie my safety is compromised on the commute. I had reason to be grateful that the brakes were Ultegra more than once, but I go that bit faster, and the brakes are that bit less efficient. So, at the boundary of incidents that ultimately can make the difference between life and death, your margin is reduced. Ah yes, carries nothing and I don't have a bell on it, either.
The Marin. Set up for urban riding, an MTB with no suspension, carbon front fork, disk brakes and slik tyres. Not much slower than the LeMond, often has full panniers that drag you back but has everything I would look for in a commuting bike. And those disk brakes really work when you need them - stopping is really more important than going on a London commute. And a socking great bell to grab the attention of dozy pedestrians.
So each has their strength and weaknesses, as I said I love 'em all. And, I've been fortunate to be able to take advantage of the "Bike to Work" scheme that let me buy the Marin & LeMond at half price or less. If I had to reduce to one? Much though I'd hate to do that, the Marin would win.