The greatest bike in the world isn’t the featherweight carbon rocket you might imagine. It’s not the fastest or lightest or anythingest bike. It’s never won a Tour de Wherever, it won’t help you win any Strava KOMs, and it wasn’t handmade or fillet brazed. In fact, if you had the chance to ride it, you’d probably pass.
The greatest bike in the world isn’t a bike you’d want to own, because it’s actually your spouse’s. That’s right—the 30-pound aluminum flatbar commuter that sits in the garage astride your bespoke machine. It’s the bike you were finally able to convince your better half to try. It’s the one they’ve come to love, and so—therefore—should you.
In my case, the greatest bike in the world is a white Cannondale Quick—aluminum frame, flat bars, triple ring. The slaaaaack geometry belies its name, and the 32mm file-tread tires ensure its top speed barely breaks the double digits. But the exaggerated bar height, the sloping top tube, and the infinite gearing make it perfectly unintimidating. Not to mention the plush saddle that, while not suitable for extra-long rides, is ideal for sub-hour excursions. In short, it’s a self-propelling chariot that performs best at a jogger’s pace, which turns out is just right for taking in your neighborhood.
And actually, the Quick has a number of features that even the snobs would appreciate—from the tastefully anodized hubs and matching seat post to the aero-esque rims. Even the paint is semi-dynamic and reminiscent of more performance-oriented Cannondale models of yore.
We bought the bike (serial #ICC018A10801) in the midst of the COVID lockdown from an honest-looking bloke in a Craig’s List ad. The price was good, seeing my wife make short work of a hill she used to struggle up on her old thrift-store junker was even better, but the smile on her face as she crested was the real treat. It was her epiphany, the kind of smile I remember having the first time I overcame whatever obstacle confronted me when I started riding. She was stoked, and that was new.
Bikes were previously not a source of stoke for her. Bikes were something I initially spent a couple hours riding on weekends, before those rides stretched into the afternoons, then day trips to races, etc. For many years, bikes were the space between us, but suddenly, atop that neighborhood hillock, she suddenly understood. She understood what I get from my big days out, the joy and the satisfaction. That experience lowered the drawbridge between her and my cycling habit. And now she asks where I’m riding this weekend. And when I answer, I get an oh, cool! where once a stoic frown would amplify the silence.
And how cool is that? Almost as cool as a midweek roll through the neighborhood with my wife on her Cannondale Quick—my greatest bike in the world. I’ve never actually ridden it (other than to test the brakes for her), but it’s made taking my carbon rocket on long sorties less guilty, more enjoyable, and occasionally something to celebrate with her (“Guess what? A new PR!”). But best of all is seeing the late-afternoon sunlight playing off the curves of the Quick’s glossy frame, and my wife perfecting a smooth cadence up that once dreaded climb, smiling all the way.
That’s a QOM you won’t find on Strava.