Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Two Ways to Keep That Economy Rolling:

Cycling's a gearhead hobby, no way around it. Some of us, like yours truly, are pretty broke. But how to keep the wheels of the ol' economy greased? Didn't you learn about the multiplier effect? Nevermind that real-world data...

First off, this sweet idea: Competitive Cyclist's Saddle Demo Program It goes like this: Pay $75, and get a box of 11 of the most popular saddles at yer door, to batter around for a weel, and then return. Get $35 of that as a purchase credit. When you figure roundtrip shipping's included, I think they make like twenty bucks to process this whole deal.

Okay, wait, why do you want to do this? Crap, why do I want to do this?

Well, you tell me, champ. How'd you get to the saddle you ride right now? How'd you decide it was the right one? Ten minutes on a trainer dosn't mean squat, I'll tell you that.

I started out with a Fizik Pave, the oldschool-ish kind, because I had no idea what to get and the LBS wrenchbrain who built my bike said it seemed like as good a choice as any. It probably was. I tried a Selle Italia SLR on my next build, because those 135-gram beauties were all the rage with the weight-weenie geeks. Wow, how I hated that saddle. Then I tried a Selle San Marco Concour Lite, which fit like. Well, you know. A glove. Only, a saddle.

I am just going to stop this analogy before it gets any worse.

I scored the Concour Lite from Eben when he decided it destroyed his backside worse than any other saddle he'd ever tried, and he'd gotten it from someone else who'd said the same. I later put that saddle on my "other" bike, and got an Aspide, same brand, for my main road bike. That's a rather unfortunate name for a saddle if you ask me, but you didn't. Anyway I thought I'd try it out because I got it as a part of a trade, and, honestly, it looks a bit racier than the brick-with-a-spolier that is the Concour. It probably isn't as comfortable, but, what the heck, right?

So, I don't really know which is the right, or the best saddle for me. Sure, many bike shops will let you bring back a saddle that you don't like and exchange it, but you'd probably feel like a schmuck doing that a dozen times in a week, wouldn't you? Plus you'd hammer on their inventory for sale, instead of parts that are spec'd for this use. I'm also kind of surprised that some saddles go for over $200 these days, but, they do.

And, for that final bit of trivia, why in the world is it a saddle, anyway? What do you say when people ask you how you can sit on such "tiny seats?" In motorcycling, I learned this one: Sit on a seat, straddle a saddle. There ya have it.

Your Fixed Gear Connection: The other thing is that M.Wrench pointed out to me that the Local Peformance Bicycle Store had these fixed gear street bikes for like 200 bucks. Two hundred bucks? Really. With a clever combination of coupons and sales, you can make it even cheaper. People who are into fixies are all about the make-it-yourself kick, especially when something like a Specialized Langster will set you back about five pieces of valuable linen blend, or at least a credit card charge in that amount. Erm, okay, that was probably too cute.

What I'm trying to say is that major brand ready-to-roll fixies cost in the neighborhood of $500, and the bike at the flying P cost about $200. I checked it out last time I was in there hunting down a valve extender. It's pretty basic, of course, but the frame has real track ends, and aside from a cheapo crank that looks like a BMX knockoff, it's got flat bars, a basic road wheelset, and two brakes if you need 'em. I didn't actually look close enough to see whether a freewheel, fixed cog, or both were included, but it was at least one. None of the parts really had and branding on 'em, of course. But, shoot: even if you did it all yourself, building up a decent fixie is gonna cost more than that if you don't have a bin of parts to start with, and aren't just planning to suicide hub some old 10-speed you've got sitting around and hope the chainline works out.

Anyway if that was the kind of thing I were in the market for, I'd definitely look it up. Oh, yeah, I did have a look on their website, but nothing for it. I have no idea if this is a one-off, or what. I'll ask if I'm down there again, though I don't have the occasion to go very often.


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