A tell-tale thumping sound from my bicycle's front wheel whenever I came to a stop this weekend was a clear warning that my front rim was about to come apart.
A similar thumping from my rear wheel last spring preceded the rim peeling apart. Years of road-grit grinding whenever I braked had taken its final toll.
As soon as that happened last year, visions of a new road bike danced in my head. I had the perfect justification — my bicycle was falling apart.
After I calmed down and took stock, however, I soon realized that I didn't need a new bicycle; a new rear wheel at a fraction of the cost would be just fine.
So I bought a new rear wheel last spring, and I'll buy a new front wheel soon. At least my front and rear wheels will match again.
No new bike
I guess I'd like to have a shiny new bicycle, but I don't need one. The LeMond Tourmalet I bought in 1999 gets me to my destination just fine. If I were to get a new bicycle, it probably wouldn't be much different than this one.
The steel frame is intact. Aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber might be lighter, but I'm not racing anyone. I haven't seen any technological advances that would enhance my road riding experience beyond the STI brifters and clipless pedals it now carries.
Although I've put more than 25,000 miles on it, many of the components have a lot fewer miles on them. The drivetrain is in relatively like-new condition. The photo above shows some of the replacements I've made over the years (some regularly).
Expensive vs. not so much
I had a lot of time to think about this Sunday as I spent hours on my bike, hoping that the front rim would hold together until I got home. (It did.)
Before setting out for my ride, I had read a blog post by Kent Peterson at Kent's Bike Blog over in Issaquah. He wrote about “Why I Don't Buy Expensive Bicycles.” That was a riff on Jan Heine's blog post “Why Buy an Expensive Bike.”
Jan boils it down to performance, durability and aesthetics. In response, Kent concludes: “I just need a bike I enjoy riding and it turns out I'm not a very fussy guy.”
I guess I'm not very fussy either. Buying a new bike might help to stimulate the economy in some cases, but I don't think that my going into debt to buy a machine made in another country is going to be much help.
I'll just stick with what I have, buy replacement parts and let the guys at the LBS work their magic to keep it on the road.