For the past two months I have been debating on purchasing new bikes for my wife and myself. We are avid cyclists who ride more than 8,000 miles a year and I was thinking that the time was right to move up to the next level of road bike. After discussing the alternatives with Steve and Rob (two of the most knowledgeable and helpful people I have ever known in all my cycling) we decided the first step was to get a proper fitting for the new cycles. This seemed like a waste of time as our current bikes fit us just fine or so we thought. Come on, I mean we had test ridden several alternatives and all of them seemed to be good alternatives, shouldn’t we just choose based on cost, brand and styling?
After the fitting was done, Rob went through a lot of analysis (who knows maybe it was the corporate dart board theory) and came up with a couple of alternatives that he thought would be good fits at the price points that we were looking. Based on this analysis his recommendations were a Madone WSD for my wife and a BMC Pro Machine for me (this was my favorite going in so I was not disappointed).
The next step was agreeing on all of the options and placing the order, now the long wait until the bikes would arrive and be assembled. Luckily we had some out of town holidays and a great century ride down in Ojai Valley to kill some time. But upon returning to Sebastopol, we could not wait to find out if the new cycles were ready, and of course as expected they were!
We picked up the cycles and started planning our new routes, as we wanted to test them on some challenging routes that we have ridden a number of times. So our first endurance ride was to ride from home down to Marshall and loop back via Chileno Valley and Burnside which is a total of 86 miles. Well we blew over 30 minutes off our previous best time to come in just a minute over 5 hours, I was so stoked. Next we did Pine Flat with a loop through Geyersville and back via West Dry Creek. I have to say I was happy with my time (again knocked a good 15 minutes off my best) but what was most impressive is that my wife was able to climb Pine Flats a little more than a minute ahead of me (and I shaved 5 minutes off my best time), and she has never climbed a steep hill faster than me. Finally our last test was to ride Sweetwater Springs over and back, where we time each side as a separate time. Here again we were able to shave five minutes off of our best times for the two routes. All of this was amazing to us, but also how well we felt on the new rigs. It was truly amazing to me to be able to ride in my drops for what seems like hours now, were on my old bike I could not stay down for more than ten or fifteen minutes.
Bottom Line: Here are a couple of things that I learned from this process.
1. When you are looking to upgrade your bike, go to the bike shop and talk about what you are looking for, what you like in your current ride and what you are looking to enhance.
2. Try alternatives just so you know that you got the best available within your price point. During this process we rode BMC, Trek, Specialized Cervelo, and several others (going to Sea Otter was great as we were able to knock off a lot of these tests at the festival)
3. This is probably the most important, GET A PROPER FITTING by someone like Rob of West County. You are making a long term commitment to the cycle so make sure it fits you and your body properly.
4. Yes there is a definite improvement in your riding performance from the new technology (less weight, more aerodynamic, etc.) that you will get from upgrading your rig. My wife kids me about my obsession with newer and better but in this case, I have the statistics to prove it.
5. And Finally, buy your cycles at a bike shop that is friendly, knowledgeable and capable. I my opinion there is no better bike shop in Sonoma County than West County Revolution.