Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Frustrations of Bike Racing on a Budget...

I've been spending too much time on eBay this week trying to buy other people's castoff junk for (probably) too much money. Even with twenty year's worth of bike parts lingering in my parts bin I still don't have enough stuff to get my track bike road-training worthy. And I need to fix my road racing bike since my crash left me with bent forks. Besides that, I fell into a pedal crisis last year when two sets of pedals finally crapped out on me in the span of a few days.

Bicycle and bicycle equipment have become outrageously expensive. When I started racing in the early 90's I rode a modest Shimano 105 equipped carbon fiber frame that I bought for $750 on a starving college student budget of warehouse summer jobs and restaurant work during the school year. Nowadays a similar bike will go for about $1700. Go ahead and adjust for inflation and that's ridiculous! And that's an entry level race bike. Step up to a race worthy component group and wheels and it is very easy to spend $3500 to $6000 on a race bike. Race-worthy forks go for $300 to $800 dollars! Need shoes? Prepare to drop another $300.

I guess that's all fine and good for the folks who can either afford it or put themselves (and their families) into guilt-free debt but for me it's a problem. I'm already racing on ten year old equipment. In some ways it's okay since the rider is 90 percent of the equation but the rest of it is very frustrating when you toe the line on inferior equipment.

Back in my glory days of racing in the DC area, we often rode and raced with the couriers from downtown. Whenever I feel bad that the guys in the pack are all riding wheels worth more than my entire bike I remember those guys riding me into the ground on bikes that were barely fit to be ridden.

But still, I feel like I'm missing out by going on the cheap...

Bike Frames: This is the only place I feel I'm actually in a little club of guys-who-know-better. My old steel frame may not weigh less than a paperback novel but it's comfortable and will last forever. Even with the modern carbon fiber wunderframes available today, I'd still ride a steel frame.

Wheels: Wheels have become stupidly expensive but they are also the one place where you can actually lose and lose big time if you're heavy and inefficient. Not dumping big money into wheels is probably my biggest frustration.

Components: It's all great stuff available nowadays. Buy my ten year old Dura-Ace still works pretty good too. The only difference is weight. That said, I'd really like to upgrade my cranks and bottom bracket to something much more lightweight and modern.

Pedals and Shoes: This one is killing me! I don't know how much longer I can keep limping along. The problem is that I'm sort of married to old Look pedals. Back in the day you could buy new pedals every two seasons or so and eventually you had enough pedals for all your bikes and didn't have to worry about different cleats and could use just one pair of shoes. But Look switched from the old delta platform to their new keo (kea - whatever) and I'm stuck. I'll either have to buy three pairs of pedals all at once (ouch! on the wallet) or go crazy switching pedals from bike to bike to bike to bike.

Or just buy other people's castoffs on eBay for (probably) too much money...

1 comment:

Ted said...


If you need a front brake and some crappy road style levers, I can help.

Ted V.