The Road Ahead

At a certain point in life you just give up. For example, I’ve long given up on trying to stay current with road bicycle technology, which is why this relic is currently my most “cutting edge” bike:

Once-futuristic materials, proprietary wheels with too-few spokes, integrated shifters…that’s about as “advanced” as I need to be.

But let’s say you haven’t given up yet, and you want a road bike that embodies all the latest tech whilst still evoking the spirit the classics. What should you get? Well, how about a hand-painted Specialized Aethos?

It’s a plastic bike with electrical shifters but…I dunno, something about Mike Sinyard and his groovy van?

Believe it or not, I’m not even trying to be critical–I’m sure it weighs like 9lbs, rides beautifully, and never misses a shift. (Unless you forget to charge it, in which case it will miss all the shifts.) Still, tell me it’s possible to look at the following without seeing the word “handjob:”

Also, what the hell is “marmoreal?”

Without looking it up, I’m going to say it’s a pearlescent finish that evokes the milky discharge of a mammary.

Now I’m going to look it up:

Yikes, I was way off.

But yes, if you’re searching for the perfect road bike, look no further than Specialized’s new mammarial handjob bike.

Meanwhile, in more pedestrian news, as noted in yesterday’s quiz, Surly is discontinuing the venerable Cross-Check:

While it’s tempting to muse over what this means to the future of simple affordable steel rim-brake bikes, such pontification is utterly pointless, since the future of such bikes is that there is no future–it’s all about discs and electrical shifting and that’s that. No, the important question is whether the Cross-Check will increase in value as the result of this news. Consulting a popular website that hosts lots of classified ads, so far the answer appears to be “no,” though availability as of now is limited–so limited that a search in New York only turns up two, one of which is in New York’s annoying little cousin, Philadelphia:

There are considerably more to be found on a popular Internet auction site, including the fabled Travelers Check, which was just a Cross-Check with S&S couplers:

I was the owner of just such a bicycle, with which I literally traveled the world:

Back in those days I was still relevant, and as such I had to go places to do book signings and stuff, so I traded Surly a banner ad for the frame–it was a bit too small, but it was the closest thing to my size they had at the time, and I figured I’d make it work. I also commuted on it occasionally, and it was once molested by a complete stranger as I watched helplessly through a window:

I had completely forgotten about that until now, but I’m upset about it all over again.

So will the humble Cross-Check ever become a collectible? After all, there’s a rich history of unremarkable bikes that have gone on to command extremely high prices, such as the GT GTB, which was just an off-the-rack track bike that went on to become a cult item because of like the triple triangle or something:

[Pic via here.]

So could the Cross-Check get there too? Arguably rim brake bikes that can clear “gravel” tires are the new fixie, but it could be that over almost a quarter of a century there were simply too many of them produced for perceived scarcity to be a factor.

For the time being anyway, I’d rate this bike a “hold.”

But I’ll let you know if there’s any significant price movement.

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