Monday, February 9, 2009

Have Bike, Will Travel

Not a particularly fancy looking bike, but that may make it a little less easy to catch the eye of a potential thief. The main reason I bought this bike was that it was the only one more or less my size that I could find. The reflectors in the wheels is actually a legal requirement here in Taiwan, although you rarely ever see them used.

It may not be the most expensive bike on the market (cost a little over $400 new), but at least it is more or less my size, and besides being able to get to the swimming pool and back a little more comfortably, I will also be able to go for longer rides. The bike is a GT Avalanche 2.0 "hardtail" with an aluminum frame. For the technically minded, it has a seat tube measuring 21.4 inches, the effective top tube length is 24.33 inches (fairly generous for a tall person), and the standover height is 31.41 inches, high enough but without having to slant the bike when dismounting. A little like my training shoes, it is not suitable for the average-sized person, and also not very easy to ride off on unless you are at least six feet tall.
The rear derailleur is the Shimano Deore variety. This is a fairly "basic model". I would have preferred to buy a similar GT bike with a more expensive set of gears. However, I am not using this for racing (yet, anyway) and maybe one day in the future I will be able to find something better (like a good road bike).

The bike is "designed in California, USA". This is what in many ways gives the bike its value. While Taiwan is very good at making things, the perception at least locally is that things made (or at least designed) in Japan or the United States are better (and usually a lot more expensive, too). A bike is actually just a collection of different parts, and the more one pays for a bike, the more that these parts are designed or manufactured in places like the U.S., Italy, Japan, etc.

I am not particularly up-to-date with modern gadgets (except for my new Macbook), and so it may be a surprise to some to say that this is the first bike I have ridden where you can actually see what gear you are in. In the past, it was always a matter of glancing towards the back wheel. I have no idea how good the wheels are. At least, being black, I won't see the rust too quickly. The dealer who sold me the bike put a thick front tire on it. If I go on a long trip I will probably put a thinner, smoother one on. Anyway, it's just a tire. I don't know if the stem or whatever it is that connects the handlebars to the frame is the longest available. Anyway, it seems pretty good as it is. Maybe there is a little room to lengthen it or push the seat a wee bit back. The bike's brakes are just the "V" kind. The modern fashion in Taiwan is to use disk brakes. However, as long as they work, then that's fine. In Kona I did not use brakes a lot, as I tried to keep moving.

The seat pictured separately is a fi'zi:k "Vitesse". It was a gift that came with the bike. I am not sure what it is worth. Usually any old seat has worked fine with me. Maybe this is the seat I need for long rides.

Until I unwrapped the bike after it was delivered (I got it via the Internet from Taipei!), I was still worried that they would send me the wrong size, even though the ad clearly said it was XL and I specifically asked for that. So you can imagine my relief when I found the "XL" sticker on it. Still, I did get a tape measure out to measure the seat tube length just to make sure.

The Ironman helmet did not come with the bike. It is one I bought at Costco in Kaohsiung a few months ago, but still haven't worn (I just wear an older one). Now I will be able to get my bike clothing out and put on my new helmet and I'll be ready to go.

Not pictured are the various gadgets that I will consider getting to make the bike appropriate for long-distance riding. First and foremost is a bike rack which can be attached at the back. Then I will be able to get various bags, like panniers, etc., drink bottle holders, quality lights, and so on. Maybe I'll end up spending a few hundred dollars just on those things.

If any of you want to bike Taiwan in the summer (beaches, mountains, gorges, etc.), you could come over, buy a bike here (as long as you are not my height), travel around, and then take the bike home where you can use it to do X-terra, Maui in the fall. I could be your guide....

3 comments:

tt said...

Bruce:

恭喜新車到手,有機會可出來同騎喔!

Bruce Stewart (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

蘇教練: 希望將來有機會跟您一起騎,等忙完了以後就可以!

ShirleyPerly said...

Great to have a new bike that will allow you to do more. I rode a basic mtn bike while college and did a couple 50 mile rides on it. 20 years later, I put some smoother/thinner tires on it, did a couple duathlons, a sprint tri and 75 mile ride on it before I finally decided to get a tri bike. That bike is indestructible and has served me well. Hope yours does too!