- By m@ttd351gn
“A very good version of normal”:
Bicycles reveal a lot about our personalities. I was reminded of this most recently when I built up my new cyclo-cross bike. I’ve raced in every cyclo-cross season since 1987, in Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, the USA, and at home in the UK. If you cut me in two you’d see cyclo-cross written through me like a stick of rock. So you’d think I could relate to my own cyclo-cross bike easily enough right?
The new bike is mostly carbon-fibre, with electric gears. It’s shiny black and sleek, it’s a weapon, a racing tool, maybe a phallic metaphor. One mate said it looked “like flinkin Airwolf!!”. Problem is; I’m not Stringfellow Hawk. I’m more natural, artisan, understated, clean and simple rather than aggressive, shouty, lean and mean. It’ll be great to race the new bike, but I’d be embarrassed to train on it. I’ll have an everyday bike in more modest style.
It’s a bit like how people relate to commercial brands. They interpret values, aspirations and status of the labels on clothes, cars, sunglasses etc; and buy the products which reflect their own values or which match how they’d like other people to think of them. I want a bike frame to look like a very good version of a normal/old-fashioned frame, because I suppose that must be my own self-image “a very good version of normal”. Carbon fibre postures like a pre-fight boxer, disrespectfully and possibly naively claiming to be the best. I want the average person to hardly give me a second glance unless I’m actually doing something special. To promise nothing but deliver the exceptional is my aspiration. I suppose I’m valuing discretion.
What bikes and equipment do I relate to then? Well, my name is on the Genesis Day One Alfine 11 bike, and I’m not at all ashamed by that multi-purpose steel beauty. But if there is one product which is spot-on with my own values it’s the Brookes Swallow Titanium saddle. I’d partner the following words with that product, and (buy implication on this self-analysis) with me: tradition, innovation, performance, comfort, subtlety, and expense. I rode one of these saddles on my Guinness World Record Circumnavigation ride in 2010 and just can’t express what high regard I hold it in. I think my next dream bike will have to go back to a titanium frame and have a leather saddle. I’ll contemplate the other details and blog again when that bike materialises.