I always get asked what size bike I want, what dimensions I prefer, what geometry, what weight is acceptable. I guess the thing to start with is that I want a bike that is made for someone who loves to ride the road in lots of ways. I like the old-school, sit back and pedal Euro thing. Those early LeMonds, before Trek really got ahold of them and turned them into bikes with standard American crit geometry, I loved those. I also really had a thing for the old, old Specialized Allez, the aluminum model that didn’t cost much and could pretty much show up at a circuit race as easily as it could at a pb&j century. I relish a bit of snappy and responsive, those bikes that seem to take a little leap forward when I get out of the saddle instead of settling in like, say, a Serotta tends to do. (Not picking on Serottas, which descend wonderfully partially because of just that same characteristic, and which are a sheer damn pleasure to climb and climb and climb in while seated; just pointing out that this is an attribute I don’t prefer.) I stand too much on climbs, because I like to. I know it wastes energy, but I don’t give a shit. I just like doing it, so I want a bike that helps me out there. I like gravel and dirt a lot. I also do a weekly crit in season, and the faux-race training ride known as the Derby, and from those, I have learned that I like a bike that can find its way home when I’m blind in the pack or worse than blind after the pack has finished with me. I guess frame weight matters because everyone says it does, but one of my other favorite road bikes, my Ira Ryan, weighs about 17 pounds or more but I have no idea, really. I ride Campy unless I have to test other groups. I wish I rode tubulars more, but these days it is almost always clinchers and, I have to say, I don’t really mind at all. I appreciate tubs when I’m back on them. I can climb not bad when I’m skinny, but even when I’m fat I like hills. I use bikes, even race bikes, to get around, too, to go to the store or down to the bike shop for coffee, or to ride home up the hill after a night at the bar. I am really, really into stainless right now, but I recently tested an aluminum Gaulzetti and was blown away so I am perfectly willing to once again believe that material appreciation is in some part perception as much as actuality. I’m not very strong. My wattage sucks. I’m good at suffering, though, and keep my head for longer than many.
This is my all-time favorite bike, an Independent Fabrication XS, five or six years old now. Matty B’s design. Been in the magazine, on that damned Crazy Bet and so a bit around the web, too.
Saddle Height: 73.5 cm
TT (c-c): 55.0 (effective)
Saddle to bar drop: 70 mm
Stem: 100, w/ -6
Seatpost setback: 25mm (traditional Campy)
Bar width: 42 c-c
Trail: 56 mm
Seat angle: 72.5
Head angle: 73
When Ira made my bike I sent him those numbers along with words much like the ones I’ve used here. I also told him I didn’t expect or even want an Indy Fab doppleganger; I wanted a bike of his that would ride in such manner, and whatever he wanted or needed to do to achieve that should be done. Probably the bike I ride most of all, and I’ve never bothered to find out its numbers.
Other favorites not yet mentioned: Pinarello Paris 2007; Pinarello Kobh 2009, I think, maybe 2010; Eddy Merckx EMX-5 2010; Look 381i 2002