Friday, May 7, 2010

the alure of what is "classic"

Of the several loose frames I have lying around in the basement there are:

(1) 1990 Specialized Allez Epic (58 cm)

(2) 2008 Specialized Tarmac SL2 (58 cm)

The second I'm trying to sell. The first I never will.

For those not in the know, the first, that Allez Epic, was a pretty hot frame in its day. Companies like Kestrel and Trek (do you remember the Trek 5000?--link is to a picture...and, tangentially, a case study in how to make a pretty bike truly grotesque through douchbaggery--the strap-on pump? the saddlebag the size of a doghouse? the stem angle and patchwork handlebar tape? and is that a spare tire behind the seatpost? ugh...) were blazing virgin territory with their monocoque carbon fiber frame designs, but those frames were crazy expensive. And in the case of the Trek, not very reliable. But others (Trek included), like Calfee and Specialized, were making bicycle frames out of carbon fiber in the traditional way that bicycles are made--eight tubes bonded together at their various junctions in some manner. The Epic was one of these frames. In 1990, it was one of the hottest things around. And I had one.

The second bike--I'm just going to say it--was the hottest thing around two years ago. (Since then, Specialized has introduced the SL3, and that makes the SL2 merely the second hottest thing around. Yup, still cooler than all those poser Cervelos, Madones, SystemSixes, etc. There might be a Ridley that's on par, but until Cervelo updates its S2s and S3s, that's as far as I'm willing to go.)


A fun little game I've been playing lately is to invite people to my basement and put in each of their hands one of these frames. The state-of-the-art 20 years ago. The state-of-the-art today. The difference is astonishing, even to those that are expecting it.


So now that I have my dream build...*

(Apologies for the weird in-and-out-of-focus photo. Blame it on the iPhone. I wish I could blame forgetting to put the chain on the big ring on my phone as well. Yikes. It's kind of like forgetting to comb your hair on picture day. Notice the snazzy WickWerks rings.)

(Sometimes I like to think of what my 16 year-old self would of thought of this bike...I might have short-circuited something if I knew that one day I'd get to ride this thing. Any time I want.)

(But Oh! how I'm materialistic. I probably deserve a public slapping for liking a thing so much. But then I remind myself, as a way of putting perspective on it and/or as naked rationalization, that there are people who shamelessly own and drive Hummers and Cadillac SUVs and think nothing of it. They deserve to be slapped three times, then tried for crimes against humanity. I just like to ride bicycles.)

...I can't help but look to the past. To dream bikes, if you will, from yesteryear.

There are two bikes in which I'm particularly interested. As showpieces. Art. I want to hang them in my living room (Val will give me space for a time).

The first, a Vitus 979 (or possibly a 992) from the late 80s. Something like these:

(Interestingly, I recognize the rims in this picture as being the same as I laced up in my first wheel build project last summer.)

The second, an early generation Kestrel 4000. A really early one, with an aluminum fork:

(Once in my possession, I would take decent photographs of them and post them on the internets in such a way that people looking for a picture of one through the pipes could find them easily.)

If I built them up, I would do it with period-correct Dura-Ace (on one) and C-Record complete with Delta brakes (on the other). If I could find it, SunTour Superbe Pro. Or I might leave them as frames only. Either way, they would be beautiful, and I might charge admission for people to look at them. But probably not. Because beauty should be shared. Freely.

*To me, a "dream build" is one where you can't really imagine doing anything else to it; no desire to upgrade a single piece or component, even if money wasn't an issue. This one is pretty much there (especially after I replaced the setback S-Works seatpost with a zero-setback Easton EC90). However, I'm far from my "dream build" in the tt, mtb, and cross categories. And my wheel quiver feels far too light. So there's plenty of work yet to do. And, of course, there's this.


sjnagel said...

Who would ever want to be the second person on a tandem? Your face is in the worst possible position, no?

As for the rest - is the one for sale the white frame you were working on shortly after getting to Ship? I think I rode that once (and thought, wow, I could ride this for 50 miles...having never ridden before). So if you're taking bids, I'll offer all of my old tapes and CD's - since you seem smitten with a bout of nostalgia... Kidding. I wish your urgency to sell and my ability to buy were closer to each other.

Last, I totally get it, all of it, because it's exactly like guitars. I'll send you a picture of my "Dream build." It fits your definition perfectly.

sjnagel said...

By the way, that was MTN posting on SJN's account. Apologies.