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Do bikes (old or new) have soul?

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I had an idea for a post earlier today, but I ended up working through lunch and didn’t have a chance to get my thoughts together. Lately, I have been way too consumed with work to think about much else. Since I am too busy/stressed/mentally drained to post any topics of my own today, I’ll point you to an excellent post that I just saw on Belgium Knee Warmers (a great blog that you should check often if you don’t already).

The BKW post got me thinking; the road bikes that interest me run the gamut from lugged steel classics to the latest sculpted and heavily engineered carbon fiber wonder bikes. To be honest though, I would much rather ride the latter these days. As nice as handcrafted lugged steel road bikes may be, the material and engineering advances in high end racing bikes in the past few years are pretty incredible. I really like sleek new lightweight bikes so those are the bikes I most often want to ride (recreationally at least). Still, I don’t really find myself feeling attached to any new bikes. I like my Specialized road bike, but I could always sell it and get something lighter, sleeker, faster, and better. Recently, I borrowed a friend’s spare Dura Ace 10 equipped Scott CR-1 for a couple of rides and I loved it. I wouldn’t think twice about trading my road bike for that one. Does that mean the Scott has more soul than my S-Works? Not really, I think it just means that the CR-1 felt light, stiff, fast and, probably most importantly, new to me.

As much as I like new bikes, the bikes that I have a strange attachment to are the ones that I have owned for years but no longer really ride that much. I don’t ride my mid 1980s Pinarello nearly as much as my other bikes and I never ride my late 80s Marinoni, but every time I consider listing one of them on ebay, I just can’t go through with it. I guess I just have a hard time letting go. Does that mean that my old lugged steel bikes have soul and my newer ones don’t? I am not sure. Most likely I just feel an attachment to those bikes that I have owned for a long time go because of the memories that I have associated with them. All the dents and scratches that detract from the market value mean something to me. Of course, I might be convinced to part with those bikes for the right price. Does anyone want to buy a couple of 80s vintage lugged steel bikes; hardly ever ridden (this decade at least)?

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  1. Marrock November 29, 2007 at 1:37 am -  Reply

    I don’t know about soul, but my old Huffy beater has character, that “Where do you want to go today, boss?” feeling.

    The newer Mongoose seems to feel “lifeless” by comparison… if that makes any sense.

    Damn… I really need to get another pedalcrank for that Huffy now.

    (And don’t laugh at my bikes, you can’t choose who you fall in love with, at least they’re ridden and not just fashion accessories) 😉

  2. Dot.Hakers November 29, 2007 at 7:40 am -  Reply

    Well, put a bike that you are attached to on Ebay is not the best thing you can do. Instead, try to find it a new home. I was so attached to my old bike that when I bought my new Specialized I felt as if I was betraying it. On day I deiced to sell my old bike on Brick Lane market (London, UK) but I could really decide the price. How much do you tag your memories and experiences, good and bad? Fortunately, on the market I met an old friend who was actually looking for a bike. Even though he wanted to give me money for it, I gave it to him for free. And it felt much better than simply selling it!

  3. Bret Moss November 29, 2007 at 11:23 am -  Reply

    Your older bikes are apart of your soul, you give them soul.

    On the flip side sometimes it’s good to clean house, so to speak and make room for a different experience.

    Moving shifting changing is part of our nature, just how much is a very personal thing.

  4. bikesgonewild November 29, 2007 at 3:26 pm -  Reply

    …as much as i fondly look back at those wonderful old rides of days gone by, there is no denying the “the material & engineering advances in the past few years” (your quote)…
    …newer, lighter, better quality (ie: more properties) steel, aluminum, even ti alloys, along w/ the ubiquitous carbon fiber have definitely improved ride quality…
    …although not re-invented, new wheel concepts (sorry jobst b) have improved reliability, in my mind…

    …i think the potential for soul is built into any human powered, wheeled vehicle…if you the rider meshes & flows w/ it, then soul is a by-product of your output beyond miles covered & enjoyment gained…no matter what level of cycling you aspire to…

  5. J November 29, 2007 at 8:07 pm -  Reply

    If your old road frames have horizontal dropouts, you’re pretty much guaranteed a buyer these days.

  6. James November 30, 2007 at 8:47 am -  Reply

    Marrock, Nothing wrong with loving a beater and I don’t laugh at anyone’s bike. Any bike that gets ridden and enjoyed is good in my book.

    Dot and Brett, thanks for the thoughts. I do need to clean house and get rid of a few bikes and frames, but I just have to decide which ones and how.

    Bikesgonewild, I agree with you about the latest wheel sets. I spend a lot less time truing wheels now than I did in the days of 32 and 36 spoke box rim wheels. No need to apologize to Jobst; I am pretty sure he doesn’t read this blog anyway. If he did, he would probably want to repossess my old copy of “The Bicycle Wheel” (still a great book to anyone out there who doesn’t have a copy).

    J, the Marinoni has horizontal dropouts along with two old trek frames that I still own. The Pinarello is a track bike, so I have no doubt that it would sell for a lot of money. I have seen 1980’s Italian track bikes sell for crazy amounts on eBay these days. Still, I really like that old bike.

  7. stay beautiful November 30, 2007 at 11:57 am -  Reply

    if you ever want to pass one of your bikes on.. please let me know.. they will be cared for and live a long and healthy life.. with lots of exercise! Sounds like I am trying to get your dog!
    Take care and please contact me if you are ever interested.. I too have a ever changing bike collection.. its fun!

  8. Fritz November 30, 2007 at 12:02 pm -  Reply

    My daily commute bike is a rather unremarkable mass-produced-in-Taiwan steel bike I bought in the mid 80s when I was a starving college student. The ride on my new bikes is incredible and I love that everything works like it should on newer bikes. Still, every time I contemplate selling old faithful I change my mind about it.

  9. Marrock November 30, 2007 at 12:10 pm -  Reply

    I just got back this morning from picking up a used folder I found on craigslist for $75. A Lespo Soltar.

    Spent some time making sure it’s as solid as it looks and now it’s with the other bikes looking like a newly aqquired little brother.

  10. bikesgonewild November 30, 2007 at 3:04 pm -  Reply

    …fritz, sounds like you & ‘old faithful’ have developed a little bit a’ soul together…

    …james, i jest about the erudite jobst but in truth, his nephew mark is a good pal…mark was a mid ’80’s norcal district champ & rode on national teams for a number of years…now he’s just a cool dude who likes to ride his bicycles…

  11. gregg-o November 30, 2007 at 7:41 pm -  Reply

    I would be interested if the frames are my size. Do you have any pictures. Let me know.

  12. Anonymous December 2, 2007 at 12:46 pm -  Reply

    I think bikes definately have soul. My new Trek is dependable, efficient, smooth — kinda bland. My old Puch fixed-gear conversion has terrible brakes, the ugliest paint ever, and I love it.

  13. Anonymous December 3, 2007 at 7:49 pm -  Reply

    Yes, bikes have a soul. And, unlike most humans, bikes go to heaven when they die. There’s a special place reserved there for any well loved, reliable, sturdy, bullet proof, fast, slow, quirky, and treasured bicycles of days gone by. There might even be room for a carbon fiber frame or two.

  14. James December 3, 2007 at 11:36 pm -  Reply

    stay beautiful and gregg-o

    Most of my frames are around 60cm, but the Pinarello is a 58, I think.

    You can see a picture of it

    But I still don’t know if I want to sell that bike. Maybe; I’ll post about if if I decide to.

  15. gregg-o December 4, 2007 at 9:11 am -  Reply

    It is a beatiful bike and If you ever want to part with it let me know. I would give it a great home and treat it like it should be treated. That bike is meant to be ridden so let me do it justice.

  16. Buttar Dot Com December 18, 2007 at 1:58 pm -  Reply

    I have a feeling that in time, your new bikes will have as much “soul” as your old ones.

    If you’re ever in Florida, bring those bikes out to one of’s races.

    -Emily A.

  17. Anonymous December 21, 2007 at 4:10 pm -  Reply

    Wow… must be a bunch of Title 9 clothing catalog writers here.

    Does such naval gazing have soul? Hmm.

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