I have a tinge of nostalgia for a time I’m not sure ever existed. Its a time when there were just bikes. Sure there was Dutch or Townie style, but you didn’t need a separate bike for long rides and another one for racing and yet another for gravel roads. It is natural for there to be fragmentation during the course of evolution. From an industry stand point this fragmentation give consumers “more options”, but also leaves them with the notion that gravel and dirt roads can’t be done on a road bike and that tires smaller than a 1.95 mtb tire will blow apart on something other than tarmac. This is the point where I explain to them that I ride gravel on my road bike and that I’ve actually had more punctures on the road than I have on dirt roads. This I point them to the guy who did a gravel metric on 22mm tubulars. They still look at me skeptically.
They idea that you need a different bike for all of the various types of riding you may do is great if you are blessed with a job that brings you oodles of disposable income. But for those of us who scrape by we have to make due with what we’ve got, even as our tastes change.
I used my custom race bike for my recent bike tour. Friends had reservations about this, but I made it work with a Revelate Designs Visacha seat bag. I had also picked up a Jandd touring handlebar bag, but wasn’t happy with the way it attached to the bike, so I ended up using the brain from a Cilogear bag, which worked well until it was emptied of some its contents and started dragging on my front wheel.
When that bike was built I was racing and couldn’t really see beyond a time when I would need any other kind of bike. But now I’m finding I may need to make some changes, because a big drop wrecks your shoulders when you’re putting in long days back to back – for me at least, so I’m thinking about a new bike. Here’s my want list:
- Room for 28mm tires. True 28s, not Conti 28s.
- Or 25mm tires with fenders, because I live in the NW and it rains until July and I’d like to ride this rig year round. No more rain bikes.
- That means I’m going to have braze-ons and their carbon for equivalent.
- I still want to quick bike with a stiff BB for racing and town line sprints.
- Compliant seat stays.
- And yes, a slightly more up right position.
If I had any type of foresight I probably would have gone for a bike like this when I first had it built. Still, my bike is great, versatile and a pure joy to ride, regardless of the road conditions. Which is how it should be.