How Much Is Too Much When Too Much Is Never Enough?

I never liked Canyon:

I couldn’t give you a great reason for this. Maybe it was because I first heard of them when Cadel Evans rode one, and for similarly inscrutable reasons Cadel Evans always rubbed me the wrong way…kinda like that microphone rubbed Cadel Evans, now that I think of it:

It may also be because of these stupid bars, which still make me angry:

I never thought these would catch on but I see them all the time now, which shows you how much I know about cycling.

Or maybe it’s just because of the name, because who names a bike after a giant yawning chasm?

Bikes are precision instruments and as such should be named after very specific things, like people:

Or places:

Not geological features in general. Is there a bike brand called Cave or Glacier or Hot Spring? Probably yes (though I’d have to check Alibaba to be sure) but that doesn’t mean there should be.

[Gravel bikes are of course an exception to the above. They should only have names that evoke beef jerky.]

Other brands that bother me for no specific reason are Cervélo, Enve, and OPEN, and I’m not sure what to make of that either apart from the fact that 50% of the companies I find most annoying involve Gerard Vroomen. I reserve the right to delve deeper into brands that bug me for no reason at some time in the future, but this subject is beyond the purview of this post.

Anyway, the point is I’ve always been leery of Canyon, and it now turns out I was right to be:

I may not know much about bikes (see above), but I have learned one thing over the years, and it’s that when you hear someone claim something is going to “break down the barriers that keep people from cycling” (or words to that effect) you should run away screaming:

You know how it goes. Thanks to ebikes, everyone is going to abandon their cars. (Bullshit.) Thanks to electronic shifting, novices will no longer be “distracted” by their shifting. (More bullshit.) Thanks to bicycles that will no longer function without batteries, parents will never have to wait for their kids, and kids will never have to know the indignity of operating a bicycle entirely under their own power. (True, but unfortunate.)

Yes, thanks to battery bikes, no matter what you’re riding you’ll eventually need to synch up with the Safety Net before you set out on your bicycle, so that the drivers (and of course the cars without drivers) know where you are at all times. If you don’t, anything that happens to you will be your fault; “the victim wasn’t logged on” will be the new “the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.” Get ready to savor how much more accessible cycling is and how all the barriers are gone as you bend over to accept your Safety Beacon suppository–and as you waddle back to your bike you can thank Canyon (with an assist from LeBron James, of course).

Oh sure, go ahead and shrug it off, but your rectally-inserted geotag transponder is inevitable–as inevitable as the death of the front derailleur:

They put too many gears out back, so now they have to get rid of them up front. And the cycle continues.

Speaking of gears, I have to admit this one was a bit of a head-scratcher:

To be sure, there was a time when the Velominati-types found triples on road bikes distasteful, but I don’t know if there’s ever been such a thing as “gear shaming”–certainly not since the advent of the compact road crank at any rate. Dura-Ace cassettes come in two sizes: 11-30 and 11-34. (You may remember not too long ago when that was called a “mountain bike cassette.”) If anything, now that we’re in the Age of Garvel, the macho flex is to have a massive rainbow-colored rear cassette that costs as much as a decent used road bike to show how burly your garvel rides are:

Circular saw blades are the new corn cob.

Despite myself I expressed my skepticism concerning that tweet, to which I received the following reply:

This did nothing to convince me. Most comments on bike forums are written by idiots and losers, who are by very definition incapable of shaming. Gear-shaming someone on a bike forum is like slut-shaming someone buying lube at Walgreens while you’re waiting to pay for your pubic lice shampoo.

To be clear, this is not me calling Russ of Path Less Pedaled a liar, not at all. I respect him very much, even if he does use disc brakes and dropper posts. He champions friction shifters, and he also just did an interview with Grant Petersen. So if he says there are gear-shamers out there, I guess there must be. Still, I think all of us (me included) are wont to turn the roadie into some sort of Lycra-clad bogeyman, despite the fact that at this point the finger-wagging Fred exists mostly in our minds.

HAVING SAID THAT, I do think we’ve gotten a bit carried away with the whole low gear thing. Of course the widespread availability of low gears is a very, very good, and of course the idea of shaming someone for using them is so silly I refuse to even believe it exists. (See above.) However, if you’re going to embrace the simplicity of stuff like downtube friction shifters and rim brakes, don’t also overlook how much fun it can be to ride a bike with a narrow (by today’s standards) gear range:

I mean you may not want to be stuck with that all the time, but my fellow fuddy-duddies who think everything new in cycling is evil generally acknowledge how fun and liberating singlespeeds are. So how is old road bike gearing any different?

That’s not saying something stupid like man up and ride big gears; it’s simply saying that if you’re going to ride a race bike it can be fun to ride it for what it is. I’ve always loved versatile bikes with low gearing, but I’ve never quite understood comfort-oriented quasi-race bikes with lower gearing and taller headtubes that still retained all the other race bike limitations. (To be fair, today’s comfort-oriented road bikes seem to be a lot more versatile than that old Look.) It seems to me the best part of riding bikes with low gears is ditching that stuff altogether:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_9047.jpg

Old road bikes are the new singlespeed. Or something.

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