My new bike
Four months ago I reluctantly admitted that Emmeline the Bike wasn’t going to be able to keep up with my new, more confident riding style, she was too heavy to ride without the assist, too heavy to carry upstairs (see infrastructure fail of the Sydney Harbour Bridge) too heavy to crawl out from under when I have the odd crash. And besides, I was ready to ride unassisted the majority of the time, and keep the engine for those zippy little emergencies, like Tour de France stage wins, haahah, I joke. Ahem.
So Sprocketman did all the research because that’s what he likes to do at night, he looks at bike parts online in between reading New Scientist articles and then asking me confused questions about the plot of whichever Netflix show is on in the background.
Seriously, he once paid utterly no attention to a show, only to look up and ask "Why is that man walking." People shaving mid-movie confuse him. "Where's the bearded dude, and who's this guy with the long pale face?" FFS.
Anyhoo, Sprocketman narrowed the selection down to several choices, all of which absolutely enraged me because he’d not listened to a word of my specifications, I hate drop bars, no super skinny road tires, I need a pannier rack, etc etc. Gawd love him, but I rolled his list up and beat him around the head with it.
Short list no 2 produced some real possibilities, both online and in local bikes stores; so off we went to sit on a few bikes and chat incomprehensible bullshit with the lovely people who work in bike stores.
I have been patronised in bike stores in the past, but not this time around, not really, and surprisingly the closest I came to condescension was from a middled-aged woman selling bikes who dialled it down a notch when I interrupted her offer to try the shop bike around Clarence street "because, it's not too scary y'know" and told her I commute 70km per day.
She may well potter in from Newtown or Paddington, but I bloody well come down the peak hour Pacific Highway; mean streets of the leafy north shore represent! Whoo !
But as I sat on these things there was always one aspect I didn’t like, or Sprocketman frowned and advised against. And this was about the time I’d fallen off my bike and then tripped in the street, and so throwing my leg over bikes way too high for me or not the right geometry was quite frankly killing me. I needed to be in a warm radox bath, not traipsing around bike-shop hell on a Thursday late shopping night.
But it gave me enough of a taste to know what I didn’t want, what I didn’t like. And a better idea of my sizing, so we …
Decided to get me a Custom-Made frame. That’s right, Made to my Measurements.
All the other upper-case phrases for “phroar how much is that going to cost?”
But I’m worth it.
No really, I calculated my earnings over the past x years (x being mind your own business how old I am) then deducted the amount spent on clothes, shoes and handbags, went back and divided that by half because surely not, added back the amount I’d saved over my lifetime by never having bought a car, and decided yeah, I was still massively ahead of the game.
And the other argument was, I get this right, and it’s going to be my bike for life.
So really, the costs per ride/wear ratio (a ratio usually employed to justify a ridiculous piece of clothing) normalised the process of getting a bicycle made specifically to my measurements.
I was a bit nervous about the burden of getting this right, what if we do all this and I don’t like the bike? Arrrgh bite nails. So we measured me twice and cut once.
No, we measured me twice over the course of a week, and took the average; arm length, legs, knee to feet both standing and kneeling, arm to shoulder to eye to nose to fingertip to hip to knee to toe. And we fired these numbers off and waited.
And then a week later when we saw the beautiful draftsman drawing, we went down to the world’s greatest repository of cardboard boxes leftover from online shopping - or as Sprocketman and I call it - ‘our garage’ and found a box big enough to cut out my new bike dimensions. And I sat on this cardboard hobby horse like a lunatic and went 'nope'.
To be honest, it was hitting me right in the lady garden, and that’s always been my big hatred of top tubes. Call me crazy but I don’t think I should have to have a gynaecologist remove my bike every time I stop suddenly.
So we emailed the craftsman, and said its gotta come down a few centimetres (the top tube, not the lady garden). So they tinkered with this, keeping my other geometry to scale, and voila, the next cardboard ride around the garage was perfect.
So right now my new bike’s carbon frame is being handmade for me in Italy (cor), and then it will be shipped to the finisher in Colorado, assembled and shipped to me in Australia.
I’ve had email conversations with the guys about how I’d like the carbon lugs; about brake levers, badge stems, derailleurs, belt vs chain drives, the colour of the paint job, the trim, the fact that the bike must have an Italian flag on it somewhere to indicate the makers, and how I was fine with that, and should we put that here, here or here?
About handle bar extenders and do I want them in alternating colours?
I have looked at a baffling array of parts in colours and finishes that eventually made me want to scream with boredom and threaten Sprocketman with a derailleur up his u-clamp if he mentioned my stupid fucking new bike one more time tonight.
And I would make that same threat multiple times every night until he finally learned to shut up about it for a while.
He was making me hate my new bike before it even arrived.
Jesus, the conversations about bar tape and the different ways to wrap it made me want to lose my mind.
But there was a reasonable mid-point to our conversations, and I learned a LOT. It's been interesting. To a degree. And I am so not disrespecting the craftsmen who take this so seriously. But I couldn't live and breathe it like some people do.
And although I haven’t yet popped into a local bike store and had my sit-bones assessed (yeah, that's a real thing) for my ideal new seat, somehow I was given a seat made for women’s geometry (grr, Sprocketman rushing me through things again) which I started riding on Emmeline to get used to it; and a stupider sight than an electric Dutch bike with a time trial seat I have never seen. And do I look like I’m bovvered ? Nah.
But it’s early August. And my new bike is due any week now.
So I’m allowed to think about it again.
And get a bit excited : )
Because it’s getting light in the mornings and evenings, just a bit.
It’s still chilly outside, but my cold is finally shifting, and I can breathe again.
And I have a new bike soon.