Whether you wish to buy a complete bike or start with a frame and pick all of the parts individually, we’ve got what you are looking for AND YOU GET TO BUILD IT WITH MY INSTRUCTION AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!!!!
What material should the frame be made of? Steel? Carbon? Titanium? Aluminum?
The reason there are so many to choose from is that they all have their merits. Steel is the most elastic and vibration dampening material. It gives you the softest, quietest ride on old rough streets and keeps your wheels stuck to the pavement best at high speeds. Also, they saying goes “Steel is Real!” because it lasts and lasts. While steel is not the lightest, vast improvements have been made since the ’80’s. It also performs the best when you are carrying alot of cargo.
Aluminum is the diametric opposite. Being the ultimate conducting metal, you will feel much more vibration and so will your components, but nothing transfers your pedal power into accelleration as well as aluminum. Great for racing on a well chosen and groomed course, but stay away from those cobblestones.
Titanium is as light as aluminum, but has the dampening abilities that Steel has. It is the “Holy Grail” as far as handling goes. If going really fast on a light bike over some questionable quality streets and tree root riddled bike paths is what you want, Titanium is for you. It is rather high priced and most frames do not have rack or fender mounts as they are designed for racing. Carrying racks and bags is usually not an option and never a good idea on a titanium frame.
Carbon is light, has a little more dampening ability than aluminum and has become very popular in all categories of the bicycle industry except touring and commuting. There are very few bikes able to accept racks and even fenders. While Carbon fibers are some of the strongest materials on earth, It is suspended in a base of epoxy that hardens and brittles in time. Ten years from now, alot of the softness will be gone.
Fat tires or Thin tires? Smooth tires or Knobby? There is an increase in comfort with wider tires. The size of the balloon you are riding on determines the amount of cushion from the bumps before the vibrations enter your bike frame and then your body. Bloopy is a word a customer gave that feeling. Many folks think the fat tires are much slower, but not exactly true. Riding wide smooth tires only slows you down going up hills. It actually allows you to go faster going down hills and over poor pavement, because you feel more stable and therefore more comfortable at higher speeds. The more rubber touching the road makes your brakes stop quicker, as well. If the difference in speed was only 1 minute faster in the course of a 60 minute ride, but your body felt better after that hour, which would you choose?
I often have people come in to my store and request some knobby tires for the winter. Knobby tires do not do well on wet pavement! Again, the more surface contact, the better the braking. Knobby tires accel in wet, muddy conditions and conditions like loose gravel etc. but they will just wear out really fast when ridden on pavement. If you ride through the woods or across grassy fields often and don’t like to slow down, put the knobbies on!
Disc brakes, Cantilever brakes or Caliper brakes? They are all good for their own purpose. Disc brakes are very, very popular in Seattle. They have incredible stopping power. They lose very little stopping power when they become wet, they stop better going down hills, especially when stopping a heavily loaded bike. The down side of disc brakes is that the weigh a bit more than others and they make a grinding-ish noise when stopping that you get deaf to eventually. A very small price to pay for the benefits.
Caliper brakes, like the ones that road racing bikes have are great for the right person. They are super plush, quiet and have plenty of stopping power in most conditions. You can lose as much as 80% of braking power when wet, but if you are a sunny day rider, there is nothing quieter or smoother stopping than a fine set of these. When wet, you slow down and use common sense and you will get home just fine. If you want a really light, pleasureable and fast bike for mostly good conditions, they are a winner.
Cantilever brakes are quickly becoming a thing of the past. I am fine with that. They operate on the rim like calipers, but offer more stopping power for wet, muddy or heavily loaded bikes. The downside is that they are finicky, prone to squeaking and they are very hard on the rim of the wheel. Here in Seattle, it is not uncommon to see bicyclists who have worn right through the braking surface of the rims, necessitating a large purchase as often as every two years. Hard to find in my shop.
What kind of handlebars do I want? Drop bars, flat bars or swept back bars? Don’t worry, trying all the different types will help you discern the differences. There are a couple of mis-conceptions out there to clear up. Drop bars do not always make you all super stretched out and aggressively stanced. The newer urban geometry road bikes allow you to look straight ahead without kinking your neck. Being a little more leaned forward allows you to apply alot more power into the pedal, so keep an open mind and try all types of cockpits before you say “Oh no, not that kind of bar” That is not to say they are for everyone though. Everyone holds their shoulders differently. When we meet, I’ll show you what I mean.
What kind of wheelbase do I want? Short wheelbase bikes ride like sportscars, long wheelbase bikes ride like a big long cadillac. Do you want a quick and nimble, responsive ride that flies up hills the quickest? Go for the more sporty short wheelbase bikes. If you want a more stable, smooth rolling platform and are going to haul alot of cargo, look at the more lengthy commuter and touring segments of bikes. Want a bike that does absolutely everything the best? uhm? Well, you just have to figure what is most important to you!
Set your free initial appointment now!
Call Cory at 206-632-0111
(If I don’t answer during business hours, I am teaching a class. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!)