I had been exploring the option of getting new bike. Numerous articles were read, I tried to find reason and rationale “benefits of upgrading to a carbon bike” “Aluminium vs. carbon” etc etc were among the numerous other phrases were keyed into my Google search box in hopes of finding reason.
The resulting articles and opinions, some by hobbyist some by professionals pointed to the same thing. ‘A better bike (i.e. well built carbon) will benefit a good (experienced) rider; an amateur might not be able to tell the difference’.
I am no experienced rider…. far from it, I bought my first bike, a polygon aluminium with a shimao 105 group set a little more than 3 years ago, I let it simmer in my garage for 2 years. The guilt (and the weight) eventually set in and I started to ride regularly about 10 months ago. I started slow and graduated to riding longer and felt myself getting stronger with every ride. On every ride, there would be stronger riders and always on better bikes; at least they seemed to riding the ‘fancy’ ones. They would go past me with relative ease much to my anguish; I always found reason and tried to suppress my innate desire to compete. “He has a better bike”. “He probably has ridden longer” “they are in a pack” I consoled myself.
True to the rule of the ‘V’, I worked hard and tried to make myself a better stronger rider to a point where I found myself riding comfortably with the big boys, well comfortably is stretching it, let me clarify I was riding with some effort with the big boys on fancy bikes.
I felt that it was now time to eliminate a big variable, i.e. the bike! I had to upgrade, it was the most logical thing to do in my mind, my machinery was a limitation, but how much of a limitation was not an easy answer. The million dollar question for which I was hoping for an easy answer, “Is it really about the bike?” after months of trolling the interwebs I could not find a really convincing answer.
I talked to the ones who had an experience of changing to a ‘fancy’ bike even after many discussions, I still remained undecided, my mind wandered to buying a new wheel set, changing the group set. etc etc.
Then I spoke to Paul at the shop
“So Amith what do you want to do?”
“I want to buy a bike, but I am not sure, well… I like the Passoni, I want the GURU, I want a carbon bike, the S5 looks good, but I am a poor climber…” so all in all I ‘knew’ what I wanted!
“Hahah.. ok, look around, ask me questions”
“I read good things about the R5, it looks beautiful, how much does it cost?”
“yeah, what kind of riding do you usually do and what do you want to do?”
“well.. Singapore, so mainly flats, but any lil hill and I die before I get to the top, esp.mt.faber, plus I plan to do a few events that are a bit hilly”
“so u need to get urself a climber, what are your thoughts about the r3?”
“I’ve read great things about it, does it only come in black? and more importantly will it be better than my polygon?”
“Amith, if u don’t feel a difference, you can give the bike back for a full refund”
A few measurements later, it was confirmed what I long suspected, I was a freak, long legs small torso.. an inverse chimp!
“A size 54 will do you good” Paul said “Don’t worry, we will make sure you are comfortable on the bike”
I paid the money and went back for my bike fit 3 days later, a move here a squidge there, adjustments all around. I was surprised at how much of adjustments had to be done to ‘fit’ my bike for me. No such thing was done when I had got my polygon a few years ago, I think the guy at the shop adjusted my seat for me.
Twenty minutes after my fit I rode back home on my new bike, I didn’t want the ride to end. I texted back to Paul “Paul, where have you hid the engine?”
Needless to say, I didn’t want my refund.
Not only was it a nice looking bike, it was fast and the feeling on the road was fantastic, the little ruts on the road that rattles my alu bike and me to bits. the r3 glides over the ruts as smooth as it had a suspension built in, I suffered no loss of pace over the ruts. to deliberately test this I rode over the cobbled path behind the f1 track all the way to kallang, a distance of about 3 kms. Smooth ride if there was ever one! I even managed to pop a wheelie in triumph! 🙂