Sunday, June 6, 2010

Two Wheels

My assistant coach was telling about her husband and his 5 kayaks. I thought that was crazy. She said, yeah but they all do something different. I understood exactly what she meant. I have three bicycles. But each are totally different from each other.

My oldest bike was purchased in 1997 or 1998 because I became enthralled with mountain biking. I've been wanting to upgrade for years, but my Raleigh M80 has served me well. We took lots of spills together. That bike has been on trails throughout the southest-- from St. Simons, GA to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. The Raleigh also began my friendship with Hampton Hudson, who used to own and run the Bicycle Shop in Hendersonville.
Raleigh M80

In about 2003, I purchased a K2 road bike. I loved biking and there were times that I didn't have time to drive to Dupont or Bent Creek. Road biking is much different from mountain biking. I describe road biking as zen: you find a cadence and spin and it's relaxing. Mountain biking is more of a rush as you wind singletrack and dodge roots and rocks.
K2 Mod 4.0

And this past spring, I purchased my newest bike. It's a Surly Long Haul Trucker made especially for long distance touring. My road bike is light and responsive, it's like driving a Mazda Miata. My touring bike is steady and reliable, more like driving a large sedan. Which would you rather go cross country in? The Miata would be fun, but the sedan has storage, a smoother ride and little accessories that make a long trip more friendly.
Surly Long Haul Trucker

Besides having two wheels, the bikes are built very differently. The Raleigh is aluminum, the K2 is aluminum with carbon forks and rear triangle and the Surly is steel. Look at the wheels, they serve their own purposes. Mountain bike tires- fat tires- are for gripping and traction on rough surfaces. Road tires are skinny, run at high pressures, offer little rolling resistance and are meant for pavement and smooth surfaces. The touring bike has wider tires than the road bike. You want little rolling resistance but you also want tires that can bear the additional weight of panniers and all your gear.

To illustrate more differences, notice the braking on the bikes. The mountain bike uses the V-brakes (below top) for all conditions, the road bike has caliper brakes (below middle) that offer great stopping power and the touring bike has old school cantilever brakes (below bottom) that are simple and offer clearance for fenders.
V brakes
caliper brakes
cantilever brakes

And just as I have to readjust to the feel and handling of each bike each time I ride it, I also have to readjust to shifting gears. They each change gears differently also. The Raleigh uses the "trigger" shifters (below top) that Shimano invented and I like much better than "grip" shifters that some mountain bikes come with. The K2 uses integrated shifters (below middle). Sometimes called "brifters", they combine brakes and shifters into one unit for convenience. You don't have to take your hand of the bars to shift or brake. It's just so easy. The Surly has bar end shifters (below bottom) which are low maintenance and easily repaired on the road.
Trigger shifters
Integrated Lever
Bar end shifter

So, if I were not on a budget, this my next bike:
It's a Moots Cinco mountain bike. Full suspension, disc brakes and made of titanium. She's a beauty. It only retails for about $3,500.


Kate said...

Oh wow. I just learned so much! Thanks! (Being totally serious, not sarcastic)

Chris said...

Yeah, heang! This blog is a good read. I envy you the adventure you're about to have. Hope we'll catch up and go on some local adventures when you get back.

Emily said...

Heang, great choice in bike selection. They are a beaut!