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Brantford Cyclepath Blog

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April 2017

Why Ride?

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There’s a bike shop saying that goes like this. “Everyone rides for their own reasons.” It’s more than true. Who can’t remember those fledgling days of learning to ride as children? Red Bull gives us wings? I beg to differ. A bicycle gave us wings. It broadened our world to include far away places such as the corner store and the park. We had a new form of liberation. At least until the street lights came on. Didn’t those summer days seem to last forever?

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As teens, bikes were our wheels. We formed social lives with them. Rode to each others houses. Went on two wheeled adventures together. Checked out the river, the woods, the neighborhoods on the other side of town. They allowed us to begin our first jobs, which brought us a new kind of freedom. Financial independence! A bike took the strain off of not affording a car. Ever been on a date via bike?

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Into our twenties, many made the switch to the automobile, pushing bikes to the back of the garage. Plenty of us still weren’t ready for cars, or enjoyed the exercise component of cycling, and continued to commute by bicycle. This is where we earned hero status. “You ride your bike all year ’round?!” Or lunatic status. “You ride your bike all year ’round?!” We felt as if we belonged to a unique fraternity of people. Cyclists. Again, ever been on a date via bike?

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Some of us really got into the exercise side of biking and started to train and compete against each other, furthering the hero and lunatic statuses. Many people became triathletes, who are a tougher brand of cyclist altogether, with hero and lunatic statuses cranked to the maximum. Our machines became expensive works of titanium, aluminum and carbon fiber. No matter, it’s what we did. It’s who we were.

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Then there remains the bulk of us. For most, life got busy. Forty hour work weeks, children and mortgages. The activity that we once cherished in our past was set aside in favor of other pursuits. Children grew as did our waistlines. We morphed out of our lean, fit shapes into a more aerodynamic one, round. Interestingly enough, our bikes sat in the basement, retaining the original shape that they were manufactured in.

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It doesn’t matter why you started riding a bike. It doesn’t matter why you stopped. The greatest thing about bicycling is that our bikes will be waiting for us when we decide to return to them. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter how old we become. The only thing that matters is the question “why not ride?”

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Paint It Black (?)

 

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Nano Black Inc

The Rolling Stones must not have had the faintest idea as to the influence that they would hold in the world of cycling, albeit decades later, when they penned their popular anthem, Paint It Black. Love it or hate it, you’ve no doubt noticed the trend in matte black paint jobs that the majority of bicycles have been wearing over the past few years. There have been seasons when it seemed that nearly every bike on our sales floor was finished in some sort of black. The most interesting fashion of all seems to be the move towards shooting matte black paint jobs onto road bikes.

There was a time, decades ago, when a stolen bicycle could easily be identified by its hastily done, flat black paint job, sans decals. “Wheredja get the bike, bud? Nice over spray on the rims and cranks.” You knew it was hot. They knew it was hot. But now? Be prepared to pay thousands of dollars for the same look. It’s a wonderful case of art imitating life.

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In the 1960’s and ’70s there was a tendency towards conservative, mainly solid colors on road bikes, whether they be used for leisure, touring or competitive road racing. Decals were kept simple. It was common to have a sensible head badge, the brand name on the downtube, and a few color bands on the seat tube. Life was simple then. If you liked blue, you bought the metallic blue one. If not, you bought the candy apple red one.

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There’s no doubt about it that the 1980’s was a wonderful time. Big hair, crazy fashion, great music. Neon bikes. Referring to the bikes of the ’80s as “dayglo” would have been an understatement. Loud paint and numerous decals meant that the bikes of the 1980’s had more in common with NASCAR then any decade previous. And get a load of that cycling outfit! It’s enough to make a peacock blush. (incidentally, I still own a pair of those EXACT Sidi shoes)

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After that came the kid-in-a-candy-store years of anodized colored parts. Shiny, oftentimes densely logo’d frames were the rage. If your bike had a plainer tone to it, you spent considerable money on stickers to make it more factory pro. Cyclists everywhere were “upgrading” perfectly good silver components by buying CNC machined, brightly anodized aluminum parts in red, gold, green, blue and purple, among others. Truth be known, many of these “high zoot” upgrades were of a considerably lower quality than the boring stock components. Ah well, at least you looked good.

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The bikes of the 1980’s and ’90s were akin to attending a never ending all-niter. After the eventual hangover subsides, you want nothing more than calm. The 2001 S-works M4 Stumpjumper above is still a full factory race bike, but it most certainly seems to be more subdued than that in-your-face Yeti above it. From this point on, paint choices on bicycles returned to their simpler, less busy roots. Gone was the anodizing. Components were offered in black or silver. Many cyclists, BMXers in particular, went completely minimalist, removing decals from their bikes in order to present a cleaner, less noticeable ride.

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Nano Black Inc

If it’s minimalist you want, then it’s minimalist you shall get. Most companies made the shift in recent years to matte paints and ghosted graphics on both road and mountain bikes. After the glossy paints and excess graphics of previous decades, seeing a flat black road bike was quite startling. Where was the flashy NASCAR and F1, “factory pilot” look? This stealth fighter attitude was a complete 180 in the other direction. It’s about as lo-vis as you can get. One thing is certain. You’re either for it or against it. There seems to be no middle ground.

From predictable, plain paint colors and tasteful decals, to full volume neons and splashy graphics, to hide in the shadows mattes with barely there logos. We’ve made the trip from quiet to loud and back to quiet again. Our industry has most certainly offered us visual variety over the years. That much can be said. However, you know what they say about history repeating itself.

Have you seen the latest crop of bikes?

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