Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On the Bikes of the Tour

The Tour de France isn't only about 189 cyclists riding 2,000+ miles over 23 days -- it's about them doing so atop some of the most expensive and technologically advanced bicycles ever made. This month's issue of Bicycling magazine features some of the bikes of the Tour, few of which I could ever hope to afford, every one which I am thirsting to ride.

There's T-Mobile's Giant TCR, weighing a shade over 15 pounds and costing a paltry $5,000. Or there's Team CSC's Cervelo R2.5 Bayonne, whose 13.3 pounds made it too light for competitive racing. Or for the more pricey among us, there is Quick Step's Time VXR, whose high-end carbon frame alone costs $3,895. There are even rumors that Phonak's BMC Tour bikes cost upwards of $25,000 a piece, not to mention the $250,000 investment Trek made last year for a time trial bike that Lance Armstrong never ended up riding competitively.

These bikes use material technology often reserved for aerospace engineers. While their engineers are talking about ways to improve lateral rigidity while allowing for vertical compliance, I'm still thinking, "Wow, that's a nifty paint job." If you ever get a chance to stop by a bike store that carries high-end bikes, pick one up and wonder to yourself how a bike could be made so damn light without compromising safety.

These are the bikes that we cycling aficionados look at and drool over, while everyone else ponders how in God's good name a bicycle could cost that much. These are the bikes that make my trusty Bianchi Axis, which I bought for $1,300, look like a fat, unattractive, and useless tricycle. Then again, these are also the bikes that no one short of a professional should ever ride Does anyone really need a high-end carbon bike with all the bells and whistles to commute to work, unless that commute involves racing against 189 riders over the course of 100 miles a day? Probably not.

For now, I am just content with staring.


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