One thing most ex-pat’s are guilty of, aside from low productivity and being overpaid, is that we tend to keep one eye on what’s happening back ‘home’. This is usually via some form of third rate gossip website that’s pretending to bring you ‘news’, which means its really laden with Faux outrage at whatever has decided to offend society that 12 hour news cycle.

Sometimes this makes you home sick, at times indifferent or perhaps it actually make you want to burn your passport and attempt to convince the French consulate that you are indeed from the Alps, even if they look at you like you actually resemble a Hungarian pickpocket.

Recently my home news feed has been taking a giant shit in my eyes, courtesy of a new season of perhaps one of the worst things ever to hit a plasma screen: ‘The Bachelor

You know the drill: A dude who can’t get hooked up on Tinder, facing off against an avalanche of millennial wannabe social media stars, all clad in the ‘Forever 21’ wardrobe from the seconds rack, who also just happen to be on the market (#theyresingleforareason), doing ‘reality’ TV battle in the ultimate example of why when AI becomes self aware and watches re-runs of this shit, it will only be able to conclude that its time for humans to be neutered – Or at least remove social media from the planet.

"OMG like a million, its just like work! If I giggle like heaps and rim this bearded guy, I get to stick around longer. Choice"

“OMG like, a million, its just like work! If I giggle like heaps and rim this bearded guy, I get to stick around longer. Choice”

By this point you may be questioning the relevancy here to Road bikes right? Well, to try and bring this all home, I’ve been on the market looking for a new ride to bang, one with little complications, good compliance and no weirdness.

What I’ve found in what’s been paraded in front of me its a collection of models which look ok at first pass, but as you dig a little bit deeper it turns out their social media is better than the reality. They each eventually reveal that they have their own intrinsic oddity you can’t live with, and when you do finally pick one the fear is you’ll return it after the first hard ride because you realise perhaps you didn’t really need it after all.

Sound familiar? Bachelor dude, I totally feel your pain brah.

Wait, how did we get here? 

Firstly, there is nothing really that wrong with the Black Inc Evo that I’m currently fortunate to straddle and pilot around the pussification road environment of the cHub. Most recently the B.I Evo has passed the 10,000km mark, but not really a big deal when you consider the previous team model did 18,500 without batting an eyelid before I sold it to some nerd who now enjoys patrolling the park connector network on it.

But there’s no denying its a 2014 model, whilst that doesn’t sound like its a big deal, its a lifetime in terms of having my defences being relentless attacked by new models, changes, updates and even a complete redesign of the Evo Hi-Mod class itself. Is there even a wafting scent of rationality here? Holy fuck no,

But a ride last weekend indicated to me that perhaps it was time to advance future procurement plans. First, much like Nibali’s Giro hopes, my left hand shifter died. Then my Stages Powermeter shit itself because it saw some clouds which had 85% chance of water in them and then finally it had occurred to me that perhaps that 25mm rear tire didn’t seem to have that much clearance after all did it?

As most of you will know here, there’s good rubbing and then there’s the not so good kind… No wonder I’ve been having trouble KOMing:

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Groovy baby! An optimist would say that’s just paint…

So now I sort of had a lame ass excuse to justify an unnecessary purchase whilst I fell backwards off my “Buy less ride more” bandwagon like Luca Paolini tripping off the Katyusha party bus (apparently they do the best party bags). As I stumbled along doing my best to unzip my pants while ignoring the steely gaze from Rational Thinking, it suddenly occured to me that perhaps this wasn’t going to be the slam dunk transaction I thought it might be… It was time to start inching towards paralysis via some strange analysis.

I then found myself facing a platoon of First World Problems, as I elaborated the other day, changing bikes and parts has become more like driving down a highway laced with IED’s in a convertible mini. Allow me to share my champagne anxieties and multiple cross roads.

FWP #1 – Shimano or Campag?

Let’s get the ball rolling with a culture clash shall we? Whilst its a no brainer to run the Rising Sun kit on the MTB, the Road is all about Italian flair and passion, even when you have neither. I mean, fuck, it just reeks of fresh espresso (even though I love milk) and has more style than a freshly waxed Hawk:

 

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Belongs in the art gallery

I think I’ve had about a decade on Campy now and to depart would feel not only traitorous, but like I was also taking a giant piss all over the Italian economy. However, let’s face it, the price of a super record cassette is pretty much the same as an entire Shimano Ultegra groups… Holy fart noise. Conundrum.

The decision process gets even more murky when you get slapped with the next problem while still mulling over the first… Italians and electrics? Alfa owners are shaking their heads about now… Plus that new Dura Ace does look quite nice.

FWP #2 – Traditional or Semi Future Proofed?

We’re standing at the junction here – Anyone about to lay down cold hard cash on a new road bike has this to consider:

Mechanical Groupset and rim brakes OR Electronic Groupset and Disc brakes

One is the way its always been, one is very much bending over in front of us with the cheeky grin of the future on its face. Yes, the drumbeat of inevitability means that at a minimum most serious riders will be looking hard at electronic in the first instance. But, do you jump on the bandwagon and join the Disco party as well? Ohhhhh… Shit is getting freaky… Status anxiety is starting to queue up.

FWP #3 – Frame or the whole load shoot?

I love my Gruppo… Love my wheels… Love my bar… Am also particular about my seat, crank length, have a powermeter I want to bring across (#likeatotalcunt) and you fucken KNOW the bar, stem and seatpost MUST match.

Just when you thought I couldn’t get any more high maintenance, when I look at swapping frames out and keeping my running gear (which, on reflection is a really weird concept given what triggered this quest), there are a million BB shaped poison spear laden traps waiting for me. I want a bespoke build with hand picked/polished parts, my bank balance wants a Merida off the shelf with Ultegra. FML.

Fuck me, my brain is melting out my ears at this point and we haven’t even really got to the hard part. So, like any Corporate employee is trained to do, we ignore all these fundamental questions and challenges and instead just plunge head first into the next phase of the project to spend money aimlessly. Its time to get yo cunt on! Let’s roll.

Its time to sample the meat buffet

Once I navigate/ignore all these terrible modern day dilemmas and dramatic sub plots, the real issue becomes Bachelor like clear – Nothing seems to get me that excited.

Don’t get me wrong, I massively enjoy my road riding… Whether its heading around the legendary roads of Lombardy, the soul fuelled mountains of Japan, the radness of Spain or just a blast through a classic like the Aka’s, I love getting out on the road bike and smashing it as much as my lower than average FTP will allow (that’s power cunt speak for how hard you can push pedals).

No, I’m talking about the road bike market from a product perspective. Look at the Santz Cruz range and I get a horn on to the point I feel like I might pass out, but I’m having massive problems with finding the passion to swipe right on the Road side of the ledger.

So then, let’s take my role as Road Bachelor, dumb everything down many notches and look at the market that I have in front of me to see if I can find a suitable play mate.

Bachelorette #1 – Focus Izalco Max Di2

The first to parade nude in front of us down the Dirty cat walk is this filthy German model, about to be brought into the DN Global Collective fold by Jonesy:

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A leading contender

About as German as it gets – Light, Stiffer than a Dusseldorf orgy and with a parts spec that doesn’t totally eat shit (pun intended). Classic looks, no weird aero shit and the paint scheme is solid. Whilst the wheels are a bit ‘Meh’, its a direct jump into Di2. A lot of boxes were being ticked, especially when you consider its not too expensive.

The catch? Hawk implied that acquisition of such a machine would translate into me having some weird German pegging gimp fantasy… It was said with such confidence that I felt powerless to debate such an accusation. I pretended I had some tea cakes in the oven and retreated with haste whilst wondering how I had become so transparent.

Bachelorette #2 – Wilier Zero 7

With a “Nein” from my first date, I decided perhaps some Italian love would get me rolling down the path to roadgasmic love and happiness. And why not start with the ‘Pinarello that doesn’t have a marketing department’. The Wilier Zero 7 frame:

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Hey there… Do you speak English? I’m kind of a bit Dirty around here…

I ignored that the black and red thing is a bit old school and instead started to have a little fantasy about how good my Super Record would match, not to mention how hot my Campy Black Edition Shamal Ultra wheels would look plugged into its svelte chassis… I had to have some Gelato to chill the fuck out…

The catch? Murmurs of quality concerns through my road riding community, plus a less than clear path about the whole crank and powermeter transplant, (what the fuck is BB386Evo anyway?) had me raising an eyebrow… But then the Welsh Assassin ruled that there was too much red and black going on, even if it did match my Super Record. No rose for you I’m afraid my Italian fox.

Bachelorette #3 – Cannondale Black Inc Evo 2016

Hooking up with American’s has taken a real dive this year in cool factor once you work out that they actually seem to WANT the Donald to represent them in running the country (into the ground), so my out here is that Cannondale is Canadian owed by my favourite Corporate drones at Dorel, so its kind of ok to be considering renewing my vows here. Oh, and the newly re-designed Black Inc Evo is SO hot:

 

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Its like when the girl next door grows up and turns out to be Kate Upton

I love the classic look, parts spec is pretty much ok, granted its not Campy, and you know its going to be a good performer. So many reasons to buy it out of the BOX and smash it until you collapse in a sweaty heap.

The Catch? Well, aside from the fact that a frame switch option is painful thanks to BB30A and Seatpost issues, the real problem here is the cost. I’d gotten quite comfortable over the years getting my dale’s quite cheaply, but thanks to Uber ex-pat weirdness of the Scottish variety, I now have to look at the usual prices and shake my head a bit. Really? Someone’s PowerPoint went out of control at Dorel HQ! May as well get a Storck.

Bachelorette #4 – Canyon… Whatever… 

Next up? Time to try the mail order bride option! Results can be exceedingly mixed, but everyone is doing it these days so hey, lets get googling to try and find some love.

A few months back, this was my number 1 to be honest, but the first problem was the weirdness of the sizing and parts spec. Because I am as PRO as fuck, I need quite a small frame given my average size. After using all my attention span to peruse the Canyon numbers, I settled on the right size. Full bike looked like an offer too good to be true! Because it was.

Basically if I wanted that size, then I got to enjoy the 170mm child cranks and track racing bar set up. Surely this was an oddity that I could swap out? So, mustering up my best German bestowed upon me from childhood years of Commando war comics (#gottenhimmel), I got in touch with the Jerries to see what could be done. How about a solid “Nein” up in your grill! Tally Ho, the blighters are coming out of the sun.

But then stories of quality woe and general ordering fuck ups started to seep out of the cycling world… Like writing someone is a skank on the toilet wall, word soon spread and I was too often hearing of warranty drama’s and general cuntery… And no, not referring to Valverde riding one either.

That was before their entire ordering process went cunt up thanks to them implementing SAP for supply chain management, prompting the Canyon CEO to issue an apology and SAP to issue a press release saying it was an awesome implementation. Thats a case study in the first rule of epic cuntery: Reality has absolutely nothing to do with you…

The Catch? Well, er… Everything?

Bachelorette #5 – Specialized

Haha, jokes… Fuck as IF. I don’t have a law degree, and besides, the whole accessory thing has really gotten out of hand with the Big S…

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Better call Saul…

Bachelorette Wildcard – Santa Cruz Stigmata

And then suddenly I had an epiphany! Sir Roskopp doesn’t actually have any hair, but it was like he suddenly had a golden mane and had flicked it to catch my wandering eye… Angels began to moan, legs & clouds parted and all my problems were solved at once! Just get a Stigmata and pimp the fuck out of it!

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Send me a Dirty Angel

Even though deep down I knew this was a weird compromise and not a thoroughbred road bike, the allure of having an ALL Santa Cruz home, as well as the versatility of rolling my Gravel Grindr option into a road bike package was overwhelming my common sense.

One bike, two sets of wheels and I would be away laughing! I was giddy at the prospect of a Di2, disc equipped beast that could literally sort of double my capability window, whilst I blissfully ignored that it would compromise the genre I was actually shopping in.

Sweet holy fuck – Am I over analysing this or what?

Knowing I had gone slightly mad, I checked my hypothesis with Science and it was as fast as it was adamant in relaying its laboratory based conclusion:

“No mountain biking eh you weak armed cockhead, I’m going to take you down the death drop then dead lift your corpse for an extra work out”

“Fuck cunt, Roads are for fucken Road bikes”

Another date comes to an end without me dishing out a rose… Sigh… Still, there were plenty of skanks waiting in the green room for me:

  • BMC – I have a historical soft spot here, but the combo of black & red and TeeJay Van-gineran means this doesn’t make the short list
  • Trek – I did look at the new Madone and while its quite nice, it appears to be more complicated than having a threesome with twins. Plus, well, its Trek…
  • Pinarello – Froome (I wanted to leave it at that to make a point, but there is also the $2k price premium that is based on marketing only and no mechanical advantage that I struggle to stomach. Inhalers sold separately)
  • Scott – For half a second I got a tiny stir of a semi stiffy when a Scott won Paris Roubaix this year and then I woke up and realised it was a Scott. Fuck that.
  • Cervelo – They were cool… Like, ages ago… But even then I wasn’t a fan. I kind of get the S5, but I think you have to be a Cervelo Person to get one. Also a high risk people may mistake you for being a Tri geek logging road miles and that horrendous prospect alone makes this an auto NO
  • Bianchi – All I remember is that they used to snap like mofos, plus – No prospect of a deal/discount and I’m not Italian enough. Yes, seeing the pink jersey on one has peaked my interest a little…
  • Colnago – I can appreciate these machines, but aside from not being Italian enough, there is just something about the brand that has never clicked with me. Perhaps it was because I was Pinarello before they got fat corporate fucked? Who knows, but I just can’t imagine being on one
  • Giant – The Propel is next level ugly… But fuck, its Giant. Nuff said.

Sooooooooo… By now you should technically be as exhausted as I am with this over analysed drama and we’ve arrived at full circle. How does this story end? Did I dish out a rose? Did I find true Road love? Did I spend so much time writing this drama up that I actually forgot to buy a new bike?

In the end I did what logic demanded of me: I left these skinny difficult chicks standing in the store and instead hooked up with something Dirty and a shit load more fun… Arrives early June!

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Yes, I went full YOLO on it apparently

Dear Santa, about that road bike…

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