Friday, February 23, 2024

Subject matter Variations – Motorcycle Snob NYC


[What is a “semi pro rider?”]

Additional to the day past’s publish, maximum cyclists espouse a choice for one body subject matter or some other. Definitely there are the ones people who embody quite a lot of fabrics for quite a lot of makes use of. Then there are those that will struggle nearly to the demise in protection in their favourite:

Every now and then we shape our critiques in keeping with our personal reports. Different occasions we base it on elements as disparate as aesthetics, the critiques of others we respect or believe, in depth analysis, and anecdotes we learn at the Web. As for me, I’ve come to favor metal over all else and assume it’s your best choice for a motorcycle body in maximum programs. However do my exact reports undergo that out? Or is it simply that I really like the theory of the stuff and what it represents: conventional design, dependability, relative affordability, yadda yadda yadda?

Now, I must as soon as once more recognize, as I did the day past, that what kills maximum motorcycles (assuming they’re correctly designed and constructed) isn’t the inherent flaws in no matter subject matter it occurs to be constructed from; quite, it’s the rider’s personal boredom and want for one thing new. Additionally, it’s essential to take into account that individuals who write about motorcycles–even washed-up semi-professional motorbike bloggers–have more uncomplicated get admission to to bicycles than maximum “standard” folks, and due to this fact have a tendency to show motorcycles over earlier than they’ve actually examined their longevity. For instance, of the entire motorcycles I recently personal (after whacking a number of of them), the person who has been in consistent carrier the longest* is the Milwaukee, which I’ve had since 2015:

That’s a reasonably very long time when compared to a couple roadies and mountain bikers who love to be on the most recent stuff, and it’s indubitably sufficient time to have however the motorbike via its paces, but it surely’s it’s now not a long time within the grand scheme of items so far as motorcycles move, and to me it nonetheless seems like I were given the motorbike the day past. (Despite the fact that that’s in part on account of the makeover.) You’re prone to get 9 just right years out of any subject matter, be it metal or carbon or anything (is reasonably).

*[When I say “In service the longest” I mean in service with me. I have much older bikes than this, but I’m not the original owner, so I have no idea how much they were or weren’t ridden before they came under my purview and my perineum.]

Moreover, in contrast to the individual with only one or two motorcycles, folks like me unfold their using throughout quite a lot of other bicycles. In my case I do a large number of using for a middle-aged father of 17 kids, however whilst you take into accout what number of motorcycles I’ve at any given time, together with loaners from Vintage Cycle and so on, maximum of them more than likely finally end up seeing lower than 1000 miles a yr. (In 2023 I more than likely had common get admission to to one thing like 10 bicycles, which is totally ridiculous.)

Anyway, right here’s my enjoy with quite a lot of bicycle body fabrics over the last few many years.


Quite a lot of riders of a definite age began using with metal. I assume I began on metal within the sense that I used to be a BMX racer as a child and the ones motorcycles had been produced from chromoly, and I additionally began on metal within the sense that once I were given older I began doing “street”-type using on a metal Univega hybrid I clumsily tried to roadify. Alternatively, by the point I moved directly to a “actual” street motorbike aluminum had entered the image, and so I by no means had a classical metal street motorbike, and as a substitute had a motorcycle like this:

Aluminum nonetheless had a name for “damn your enamel out” again then, but when there was once any reality to that I wouldn’t have recognized it. Throughout the duration I went from messengering to racing I had 3 Cannondale street motorcycles in succession: the primary was once stolen whilst I used to be turning in a package deal, the second one took me via Cats 5 and four, and the 3rd was once an “improve” from the second one and noticed me to Cat 3, the place I stalled out for the rest of my profession. Along with supposedly being rattly, Cannondales had been additionally nonetheless referred to as “Crack and Fails,” even though none of them gave me a lick of hassle. Positive, I more than likely solely had the primary one for 2 or 3 years earlier than it were given stolen, however I by no means had an issue using the hell out of it or locking it time and again to boulevard indicators with a heavy chain. As for the second one and 3rd ones, they gave me no hassle both, and for the reason that I used to be a tender and enthusiastic racer who was once placing so much and quite a lot of miles on them and using them virtually solely all yr spherical that would appear to talk to aluminum’s sturdiness.

On the similar time, the one motorbike that’s flat-out cracked on me in a fully evident means was once produced from aluminum. It was once this one, and it took place on the drive-side chainstay:

I didn’t even realize it whilst using. As a substitute, I realized it sooner or later whilst I used to be cleansing it. (I nonetheless used to wash my motorcycles again then.) Alternatively, I don’t blame the truth that it was once aluminum such a lot as I blame the truth that it was once silly gentle aluminum. That however, I used to be now not happy with my guaranty alternative. As I’ve discussed earlier than, Specialised changed the body with what I’m lovely positive was once an Allez painted in S-Works colours. This was once the early days of built-in headsets. Bear in mind within the early days of built-in headsets, when the retrogrouches had been freaking out about how if the headtube wasn’t completely highest that the headset would by no means be proper? Smartly, from the day I were given that alternative body with the built-in headset it was once by no means, ever proper, and after awhile I finished up promoting it. I used to be satisfied to be rid of it. This may be now not a fault with aluminum, however is an instance of ways being cautious of the “latest and newest” can also be warranted.

But even so the unsightly Festina motorbike and the Cannondales I’ve had quite a lot of different aluminum motorcycles through the years, together with the only under, they usually all held up simply high-quality:

I purchased that body used. It already seemed lovely beat up, I beat it up much more, the use of it closely as each a cyclocross race motorbike and a wintry weather motorbike, after which I gave it to a pal who I consider remains to be using it nowadays. Then after all there’s the Normcore Motorcycle:

I had the sort of in my early roadie days and I’ve some other one now, even though it’s recently my elder son’s college commuter. It held up simply high-quality again then as a motorcycle for using within the rain and throwing within the shipment dangle of the Hampton Jitney, and it’s maintaining up high-quality simply now as a motorcycle that will get lashed abruptly to a motorcycle rack each day. Moreover, as I’ve famous earlier than, this stuff are the cockroach of the street motorbike global in that to this present day you continue to see them at all times, even though to be honest that might simply be as a result of they had been in manufacturing for see you later and there are like a zillion of them.

So primarily based totally by myself enjoy it kind of feels to me that so long as it’s now not silly gentle or poorly constructed then aluminum is unswerving stuff. Alternatively, within the heady days when aluminum dominated the peloton and firms had been pushing the foil envelope, it positive appeared like there have been numerous flimsy aluminum motorcycles. But even so my embarrassing Festina reproduction and my headset drawback, I appear to recall our elite crew all getting regardless of the scorching aluminum Colnago was once on the time, and that via the tip of the season maximum of them had failed. The only-use-only days of the overdue ’90s and next body screw ups (mine integrated) more than likely nonetheless tell folks’s opinion of the fabric, similar to the entire “chattery” factor.


I used to be nonetheless a devoted racer when carbon began to take over in earnest. Whilst in the beginning the ones Calfees and C-40s gave the impression impossibly unique and unimaginable (as a result of, for those who had been me, they had been), ultimately the fabric changed into increasingly more not unusual, and sooner or later our crew were given a deal on those, which was once my first carbon motorbike:

I by no means had an issue with it, and I positive concept it seemed cool, however I additionally didn’t have it for greater than a season or two as a result of our crew ended up converting motorcycles. The only carbon motorbike I in reality had for a longish time–perhaps just about 10 years?–was once this one:

[This bike flew on Lance Armstrong’s private jet.]

Via that time in my lifestyles I used to be now not doing all my using on only one or two motorcycles, and after awhile it was once now not my primary street motorbike, however I did experience the motorbike so much within the time I had it. Highway rides, races, 3 of the ones Rapha Gents’s Races…

It did ultimately succumb to a crack…I believe. At one level it began creating a noise I couldn’t work out, and upon nearer inspection I discovered what seemed to be a crack. As with the Festina motorbike it was once within the driveside chainstay, however in contrast to the Festina motorbike it was once so high-quality I wasn’t 100% positive it was once a crack. Both means, via that point now not solely had I ended racing, however I used to be additionally a semi-professional motorbike blogger with quite a lot of different motorcycles. So in 2017 I gave it away as a memento at a chat on the Philly Motorcycle Expo.

Previous to finding the crack the additionally fell in opposition to a boulevard signal once I propped it up on a curb or one thing. This ended in a blemish at the best tube I couldn’t be certain that wasn’t structural with out a legit inspection, which at that time I used to be now not about to hunt out since I now not raced and I had different bicycle. I will’t say it was once overly relating to (it was once not anything just like the black hollow within the Center of attention, which appears to be maintaining in combination simply high-quality), however on the similar time in case your metal motorbike sustains a minor ding you don’t also have to offer it a 2nd concept or seek the advice of your native Specialised broker.

I additionally had some other carbon Specialised now not too way back once I in brief began racing once more, even though just like the Scott I didn’t have all of it that lengthy, and I didn’t experience all of it that a lot out of doors of races.

Aluminum and Carbon

I’ve discussed this half-crabon, half-aluminum monstrosity earlier than. It was once the crew motorbike we switched to after the Scotts. Even then I knew I used to be making an enormous mistake, however I sought after to experience what my teammates had been using. It in addition to the entire others began coming aside the place the crabon met the aluminum because of what I guess was once galvanic corrosion. The absolutely crabon Specialised was once its eventual guaranty alternative.


At this time all my motorcycles excluding for one are metal. Even in my early roadie days it all the time appealed to me. Alternatively, on reflection, with regards to recognition metal had actually reached its nadir as a body subject matter within the Nineties, and it was once just about unimaginable for a teen like me who didn’t in point of fact know very a lot to stroll into a motorcycle store in search of a racy street motorbike and to stroll out with one made from metal. No, you wound up with aluminum, be it welded or bonded. That’s what the malls bought, that’s what the magazines touted, and that’s what the entire racers rode. Moreover, whilst metal motorcycles all the time appealed to me, the ones fats aluminum tubes did too. Now all motorcycles have fats tubes, however again then they had been nonetheless new and thrilling and appeared like natural pace–and as I say, I by no means had a unmarried criticism about any of my Cannondales.

Nonetheless, after awhile I discovered myself being attracted to metal like a refrigerator magnet, as a result of despite the fact that I used to be a motorcycle racer I used to be additionally a lurker and the musings of folks like Jobst Brandt all the time resonated with me. Metal additionally began making form of a comeback because the ’90s wore on–or so it looked as if it would me, even though that may have simply been me maturing as a rider and browsing past the most recent race motorcycles. Both means, via the early twenty first century I had a metal cyclocross motorbike and metal mountain motorcycles and a metal commuting motorbike, and via 2011 as NAHBS fever raged and my pockets and ego each swelled following the e-newsletter of my first e book, I in the end learned my dream of obtaining a completely customized metal bicycle:

I had this motorbike for 11 years earlier than in the end promoting it this yr after in the end admitting to myself that as a middle-aged father I merely now not have time to twiddle a tiny equipment the entire approach to the mountain motorbike trails and again–a super instance of ways, in the case of how lengthy you stay a motorcycle, subject matter is frequently now not the proscribing issue. However in contrast to aluminum and carbon and alumi-carbon I’ve by no means had a metal motorbike fail and even give the recommendation of failure, and the nearest I’ve come is how rusty the Ironic Orange Julius body (which as of this second I nonetheless have) now could be:

Alternatively, maximum of that scary-looking rust is at the backside bracket cartridge, and I think that in spite of its gritty look this body has much more miles in it. Additionally, it was once the sufferer of what I might symbolize as excessive forget, and along with quite a lot of basic abuse (plus no matter use it noticed from its earlier proprietor or house owners, for I used to be now not the primary), right through an excessively snowy wintry weather a number of years again I rode time and again in slush and street salt after which put it away for a chronic time period totally caked with each after which left it sitting for months. No motorbike handled with even a modicum of care would degenerate to this situation, besides, on the time I disassembled it the motorbike was once nonetheless rideable, and in a pinch I may just make it rideable once more lovely temporarily. (It might more than likely take some doing to get that backside bracket out, however the spindle nonetheless turns so possibly I’d simply go away it in there.)

Stainless Metal

Again in 2011, Ritte, an organization then recognized for its irreverence, constructed for me a prototype chrome steel street motorbike. I rode it till 2019, once I generously donated it to the Vintage Cycle assortment:

[Classic Cycle]

I understand chrome steel is, properly, metal, however I’m giving it a separate class as it’s now not common metal, it’s useless, gimmicky metal, and in my case anyway it didn’t come any place just about residing as much as its title:

Now not too lengthy after the Ritte arrived I moved to the Bronx and roughly stopped racing, and I believe this motorbike solely noticed “pageant” like as soon as. Alternatively, after the transfer I used to be so much nearer to filth, and I frequently rode this motorbike with 28mm tires at the Outdated Croton Aqueduct, so it noticed numerous use. The blemishes stricken me, and it additionally had a press-fit backside bracket. I do not know if the corrosion was once an indication of deeper issues or it was once simply beauty, however right through my time with the motorbike it held in combination simply high-quality, and excluding the creeping crud my primary criticism was once how hectic it was once to paintings at the press-fit backside bracket.

Via the way in which, Ritte nonetheless sells a stainless-steel motorbike nowadays. Sarcastically it’s referred to as The Snob, and the tag line is “Real love doesn’t rust:”

I’ll give them the good thing about the doubt and suppose they looked after out that rust drawback.


When I used to be racing and grinding out miles on a Cannondale a titanium Litespeed or Merlin appeared like the very pinnacle of roadiedom, and because of Vintage Cycle I in the end were given one like two decades later:

That is probably the most fashionable street motorbike I’ve. I really like using it and I don’t have a unmarried dangerous factor to mention about it. It’s the motorbike that Ritte needs it was once.

The road on titanium is that it has a mystical experience high quality and it lasts eternally. Smartly, not anything in regards to the my very own enjoy Litespeed provides any indication on the contrary: the experience is implausible, and it nonetheless appears to be like find it irresistible was once made the day past, now not in 2001. However I’m skeptical of the popularity titanium has for being nearly unbreakable, for the easy explanation why that there are lots of, many stories of damaged titanium bicycles. In fact, this publish is meant to be about my very own reports, now not stuff folks say at the Web. Additionally, titanium is a distinct segment subject matter, owned most commonly via the types of people that publish stuff on Web boards. So if anything else occurs to a titanium motorbike, you’re certainly going to listen to about it.

As for my pattern measurement of 1, there aren’t any issues right here…even though as one of the motorcycles owned via an ageing blogger it’s now not seeing such a mileage and depth my previous race motorcycles did.


In like 2017 an organization referred to as Renovo despatched me their Aerowood street motorbike. It was once certainly made from wooden, it had carbon wheels and Di2 moving, and the retail value was once about $10,000:

Now not too lengthy afterwards, Renovo went bankrupt, more than likely as a result of who the hell goes to pay $10,000 for a street motorbike made from wooden?

I in point of fact loved using the Renovo, in part as it’s a motorcycle I’d by no means, ever have selected for myself, and in part as it did really feel in point of fact just right. If truth be told, I even raced it a lot of occasions right through my short-lived comeback. Sooner or later, even though, the Renovo started to creak like a pirate send, and shut inspection of the bolts across the dropout house published little splits or cracks within the wooden. My recollection is that the Renovo man stated it was once protected to experience, it was once only a small beauty drawback they’ve since remedied, and so on and so forth, all of which was once more than likely true (are you terrified of falling via your creaky wooden flooring?), however all of which additionally showed the entirety you’d suspect would possibly occur with a motorcycle made from wooden. It was once a fantastic motorbike that grew to become heads anywhere it went, but it surely was once additionally totally and completely ridiculous, and it too is now part of the Vintage Cycle assortment:

[Classic Cycle]

As for the corporate, any individual ended purchasing Renovo and it nonetheless seems to exist, and a temporary Web seek signifies there are quite a lot of folks making high-end picket bicycles too, even though Lob is aware of who’s in reality purchasing them.


OK, so that you could overview:

  • I’ve by no means had a metal motorbike fail, even though I’ve had one get lovely rusty (the Ironic Orange Julius Motorcycle). I’ve additionally gotten years of exhausting use out of already well-used metal frames I purchased very affordably, indiscriminately used rear wheels from 120mm to 130mm in an previous metal street body with out factor, and so on. 
  • I’ve by no means had a titanium motorbike fail or succumb to any aesthetic blemishes, even though my pattern measurement of 1 is so tiny as to be meaningless, and it leads a pampered lifestyles
  • I’ve had an aluminum motorbike fail, even though that was once a “superlight” body, and I’m positive if I’d had a metal motorbike that were constructed too gentle for advertising and marketing functions that might have failed too
  • I were given just about a decade of excellent use out of a carbon street motorbike, even though via the tip of that point I’d virtually indubitably reached the tip of its helpful lifestyles
  • My carbo-luminum motorbike began coming aside, my chrome steel motorbike stained, and my wooden motorbike were given creaky, all of which implies to me there’s completely not anything to be received via deviating from fabrics like metal, aluminum, carbon, or titanium, or via blending them in combination.

Subsequently, I conclude, primarily based by myself enjoy:

  • Metal is terribly dependable and an excellent price, simply wipe it down as soon as in awhile for those who experience on salty roads. Differently it plays properly for every type of using, it may be had filth reasonable, and you’ll utterly experiment with it and deal with it like crap.
  • Aluminum is dependable and an excellent price, it will also be had filth reasonable, simply steer clear of the superlights (more than likely true for any subject matter). I additionally wouldn’t move messing with the rear spacing or anything else like that, even though admittedly that’s in keeping with what I learn, now not from private enjoy. And whilst metal can rust, aluminum too can bubble below the paint and do different bizarre issues–particularly for those who’re a heavy sweater like me, believe me.
  • Obviously you’ll get quite a lot of just right use out of a carbon motorbike, however I were given not anything out of mine that I didn’t get out of my metal and aluminum motorcycles, which can be in most cases a lot less expensive. Like medication in faculty, for those who’re a racer after all you’re going to take a look at carbon in the future, however like medication in maturity I don’t in point of fact see the purpose. Alternatively, it’s additionally value noting that I’ve had carbon forks on quite a lot of other motorcycles, and [knock on wood] I’ve by no means had an issue there, the video above however. Turns out to me if you wish to have gentle weight and bang in your dollar in a natural race motorbike you get an aluminum motorbike with a carbon fork, and if you wish to have bang in your motorbike for using of every kind you get a metal motorbike and that’s that. There are all varieties of engineering arguments for and in opposition to carbon, however in the long run it simply strike me as now not an excellent price. However that’s simply me. 
  • I really like my titanium motorbike. However like carbon it simply turns out like a foul price in comparison to metal and aluminum. (Except you’re the Vintage Cycle Outdated Crap Take a look at Pilot and give you the chance to industry a creaky picket motorbike for a pristine titanium one.) If it’s in point of fact as sturdy as they are saying then this can be a higher price than carbon, however folks say a large number of issues, don’t they? Additionally, I nonetheless desire a titanium Jones with carbon portions. As a result of motorcycles are a illness.
  • No explanation why to debris round with weirdo fabrics or abnormal mixtures thereof, for the explanations above. (Oh, I simply remembered I additionally had a magnesium motorbike for awhile, however now not lengthy sufficient to attract any conclusions about longevity.)


For me, it’s gonna be metal. Except rust in point of fact freaks you out I don’t see the drawback. However you do what you wish to have.


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