Resisting the urge to scratch that upgrade itch

For my day job, I’m fortunate enough to work for British Cycling, creating website content, shooting video and reporting on events from track racing to mass participation rides. This gets me to some interesting places and gives me access to some fantastic events.

Where I was at the weekend - the British Cyclo-Cross Championships (image by Joolze Dymond)

At the weekend, I was lucky enough to be on reporting and video-creation duty at the British Cyclo-Cross championships. ‘Cross is a branch of cycle sport that I’ve loved for a while – I’ve even dipped my toes in its murky but intoxicating waters a few times myself. However, my visit to Derby triggered an inevitable ‘I need a new bike’ reflex.

It happens all the time. I hire a mountain bike at a trail centre – I drive home believing that need a mountain bike. I test ride a friend’s new road bike and I simply must have one. Inevitably, after watching the ‘cross all weekend I convinced myself that what I required was a whisper-light cyclo cross bike. A veritable frenzy of Googling, review reading, bike website ingestion and price comparison ensued. It only took me an instant to convince myself that I needed a new bike, but it took days to convince myself that, actually, I don’t.

Sure, a cyclo-cross bike is a versatile beast – suitable for road rides, commutes, light to moderate trail riding etc. However, the more I looked at the huge range of cross bikes out there, the more I realised just how honed-for-purpose my current bike is.

Fit for purpose - Resurrectio, thought a bit weighty - is honed for my kind of riding
Fit for purpose - Resurrectio, thought a bit weighty - is honed for my kind of riding

Most of my cycling would be classed as commuting, with the odd trail ride and the even odder longish road ride thrown in. For these purposes, Resurrectio is ideal. Sure she’s more than a little portly – (around 30 lbs without fenders, lights, kickstand, etc) but that weight is a sign of strength – the sort of strength that you need to survive the standard commuting abuse; top tube dents, potholed roads etc. Resurrectio is also unashamedly low key. She’s dull green, she’s got fenders, she doesn’t look fast – therefore she doesn’t attract unwanted attention.

A race oriented ‘cross bike would certainly be a few mph faster and a lot livelier to ride, but I doubt it would be as durable long term and the thought of leaving a blingy bike at the bike rack or in the bicycle compartment on the train just fills me with anxiety. Speaking of anxiety, the majority of cross bikes come equipped with carbon forks…

Resurrectio also been kitted out in a way that few bicycle manufacturers would consider. High mounted drop bars, V brakes, platform pedals, Brooks saddle and my proprietary ‘wide range double and chainguard – triple chainset’.

The object of my illicit affections - the Surly Cross Check

I considered a more sensible frame upgrade – perhaps to a Surly Cross Check -which would be a full 2 ½ lbs lighter that Resurrectio’s burly plain gauge chromo heart. But what’s 2 ½ lbs in frame weight once you’ve dropped a 190lb rider on top? The weight of a couple of full water bottles? The Surly – while undoubtedly the most versatile, elegant, good-value bicycle frame on the planet – costs £299 for the frame and fork plus the necessary new headset, seatpost, stem, front mech and BB to make my current parts fit – so let’s call it £400. I’m sure I could lose 2 ½ pounds of belly fat for less than £400.

So after a few days of Googling, pondering and review reading, I’ve turned once more to Resurrectio, my home-brew country bike, whose plain-gauge, chromo heart cost me a mere £13 and vowed I wouldn’t look at another again. Well, at least for a while…

Hmm - mithril (well, titanium but you get the point) framed wonder-tourer from Sabbath. The frame is stout as hell, plain gauge titanium but only weighs 3.5 pounds - surely the holy grail of touring bikes. Now, just need to find £1600...

Footnote: then I stumbled across the titanium Sabbath Silk Route touring bike on offer at Spa Cycles – now the upgrade itch is even more difficult to quench!

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7 thoughts on “Resisting the urge to scratch that upgrade itch

  1. I’m right beside you on this concept. In fact, it seems like I’m always looking around to see what is out there. Lately, however, I’ve been fortunate because I haven’t really found anything that is so much better than what I’ve got to warrant any lustful thoughts. Oh, I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head, but for the last year or so, I’ve been really satisfied with my pair of country bikes (one fixed, one with gears). That means I can spend more time planning the next outing or new place to explore.

    Good luck with that condition. I sympathize.

  2. Geoff Briers

    I know what you mean, I get sporadic attacks of the same condition, and like you eventually manage to see throught the fog and realise how much I like my current bike.
    That’s part of the fun for me. As the miles roll by you tend to notice little things about your ride; little imperfections with the contact points, seating position, gearing etc, and then work out how things could be improved. Then spend ages trawling around looking for the ‘right’ solution, get it, try it, adjust it, then either a warm glow of self congratulation or realisation of a big mistake.
    What you end up with is a really tailored bike, demonstrated by many miles of use to be almost perfect for you. And that’s great, really great! I should spend less time looking at alternatives and more time riding.
    Now…let’s have another look at those Rohloff hubs….

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      You’re right Geoff – if I swapped out my bike for a new one, years of evolutionary tailoring would be wiped out in one fell swoop. Good news is that continuous upgrades are easier on the cashflow (and usually come in under my wife’s expenditure radar!)

  3. The Velo Hobo

    Wonderful post. I think every cyclist feels the same and I suppose people who are into cars lust over the newest models this time every year. I’m scratching my itch this year by living vicariously through my wife as she chooses a new touring bike. Of course, it’s not the same.

    Jack

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      Thanks Jack, I’m satifying myself by removing unnecessary items from the bike with the aim of shaving off a few pounds – a lot cheaper than buying a newer lighter bike – and a lot easier to shoulder and carry up the railway station steps!

  4. fwinter

    I bid on a road bike today and luckily was outbid. Phew! I don’t like pure road bikes any more due to restrictive tyres, position, gears etc. So why do it? Cos I think I’ll be riding with my mates next summer, and I’d be laughed at for having the current mish-mash bike. Bad reason.

    In fact stuff it, I’m going minimal. Just one bike to ride and one drivetrain to clean and maintain – liberating! I’ll have some knobblier tyres for the light offroad stuff I do – heck maybe even a spare wheelset so I can swap road or offroad. Too many bikes seems to mean less riding for some reason, maybe the thought of having to look after them all.

    One personally honed bike that is actually ridden has got to be the way forward!

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