TCI Friday

TCI Friday works best when you weigh in, in the comments. Read and react. Do it. We need you.

I just shouldn’t have bought it. It was slightly too large for me, it was a lot heavier than I expected, and as a daily commuter it just didn’t make the first iota of sense. It was a Moser 51.151, a bike released as tribute to Francesco Moser’s hour-record (he set a new mark of 51.151 kms), and I had no business owning it. At the time I had a fever for Italian steel road bikes, which made more sense then, than it does now.

In my (only partial) defense, my commute was about 10 miles. I was fit enough then to time-trial it most days, traffic lights notwithstanding. That the bike was 20 years or so out of date, with downtube shifters and cable housing blooming up over the bars, a seven-speed drivetrain and a quill stem are non-mitigating factors.

Few people ever regret a custom bike.

That bike was really an expression of my unquenchable love for bicycles and for the lore of cycling. Riding it felt like a tribute, an ode, and it didn’t matter that the cover was mostly worn off the saddle. In fact, that helped. And it didn’t matter that it was demonstrably too big for me. I was younger and more physically adaptable then. I suffered for my love.

Is there any other way?

I suspect that each of you have one of these purchases in your past, an almost literal skeleton in your closet (or garage). That eBay will facilitate whimsical exercise of your purchasing power seems exploitative. For myself, I have made the (breakable) rule that I will not buy any bike I have not ridden to guard against a mistake like this in future, but love will make you do crazy things, and love will break your heart.

This week’s TCI Friday wonders if you’ve done something similar. What did you buy and how did it turn out? Have you learned these lessons already or are you still bumbling forward, vulnerable to Cupid’s bike-shaped arrow?

For the record, I have never regretted a thing I’ve purchased from Shimano, our lead site sponsor.

Join the conversation
  1. mattdwyerva says

    I had an early 70’s Bottechia Pro that I raced on (poorly, but not the bikes fault) in the early 80’s. I bought a Trek 520 for touring, but it had terrible death wobbles on descents. Yikes. I switched the downtube shifters for barcons on the Bottechia in the mid 80’s and toured in the Canadian Rockies and elsewhere. The bike was perfect.

    I got to smart though, and paid a frame builder to add brazeons and reset the rest triangle for more gears.
    Dumb. It was ruined. I still miss that bike.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      When I worked at Seven a LOT of people contacted us to try to have their road bike updated for disc. I had to explain that meant rebuilding the whole rear end. Some struggled to see how much that would change the bike’s handling and feel.

  2. alanm9 says

    In the early net days I bought what I thought was a cool Italian race bike, based on (poor) photos. When it arrived even I knew it was junk. Cheap gas pipe frame, stamped components, and tubular rims with cracks at every spoke hole. The whole thing went into the recycle bin. I might have saved the tires. All of my online purchases since have turned out well, but I’ve been way more careful.

  3. Jeff vdD says

    My serious cycling didn’t start until 2007-2008, and I’ve never really been attracted enough to the sport’s history for my used bike purchases to be worthy of that history. Rather, anything used that I purchased was for its current function–for instance, a 2006 Fuji CX bike that I bought in 2013 to race CX.

    And my new bikes have been, of course, new.

    I certainly appreciate the appeal of historic machines. But I don’t imagine I’ll ever acquire one … I’m too enamored of how great the latest bikes are at serving my needs and wants.

  4. schlem says

    I spied a crimson track bike hanging from the ceiling of Wallingford Bikes, in Seattle, maybe 1996. That Basso had proper sewups, like my riding buddies rocked on their Italian steeds, and I was completely smitten. I had devoured the gospel of Sheldon, and being a singlespeed veteran, I knew it was time to ride fixed. The lads at the shop were a bit dubious when I asked them to drill out the fork for a brake, but they found a chrome-plated road fork, of indeterminate pedigree, and set me up. The frame was smaller than my other bikes, and I settled on about 80 gear inches, an impossibly-tall ratio. I found a matching Silca Impero frame pump and stuffed a bidon in my jersey pocket. Spinning around the rolling terrain of the Seattle environs, and commuting to Microsoft, the bike was tremendous fun. It weighed less than 20 pounds, and I danced up hills and spun like a blender back down them. I spent the whole summer riding as far as I dared, glorying in my new-found Souplesse.

    One day in September, after a ride around Lake Washington, a mile from home, I was windmilling down a gentle slope on the the railroad grade that had become the Burke-Gilman trail. I’d estimate that I was easily travelling more than 25 MPH. The trail crossed 25th Ave, but traffic was stopped, the crossing was mine. And in that moment, at that intersection of momentum, velocity, and traffic control, I forgot… that I couldn’t coast. I was a bit tired, and I just wanted a brief respite from all the spinning. I tried to stand on the pedals. The bike bucked, and jumped, and (this all happened in an instant) the front tubular peeled off the front rim. Apparently bare aluminum alloy on asphalt has zero traction, and I went down hard and slid across the crosswalk. It must have been slightly hilarious to any onlookers, as I sat blinking in the middle of the street, dazed and confused. I picked myself off the street, daubing at the blood, and limped to a pay phone (remember those?) at the Seven-Eleven, and called for a ride. In the steamy embrace of a hot shower, I shaved my legs for the first time.

    I never rode the Basso again, and I left the infernal machine in the basement when I moved. But I still ride fixed.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Schlem – I have a very similar story related to extreme fatigue, forgetting what fixed really means and bucking over the bars, including blood and bewilderment.

  5. spokejunky says

    I bought into the second wave of 69er creations of 2008ish. “Yes, you’ve ridden a 26 inch MTB and it was fast, but man do those front wheels make you feel every root. What’s the answer?!! A 29 inch front wheel because those just roll over things.” No one tells you about the downsides: carrying two different size tubes, geometry is whacked on the front end to accommodate the offset, larger wheels actually do provide some small form of compliance over smaller wheels. The thing did accelerate quickly in a straight line, but MTB isn’t a drag race after the first 100m of a race. Whenever I hit a grade over 15% the bike liked to tip backwards unless you were eating the stem. The back end felt like a jackhammer on root sections. I tried to sell it for ten years and there were zero bites. I eventually converted it to a 27.5 and gave it to my oldest son who has none of the issues. Never again…until there’s another tasty bottom bracket standard, then someone take my money.

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