While the joke usually goes that buying a tandem will lead to a divorce (hence the term “divorce bike”) I had the thought, what was the comb over of bikes? Comb overs an unconvincing attempt by balding men to hide the fact that they are loosing their hair by growing hair on one side of the head long enough to be combed over the balding area and is held in place hair care products such as hairspray, mousee or as in the case of Donald Trump, an alteration of all known physics.
No one likes to get old. No one particularly enjoys looking bad. I sure don’t but there’s only so far I’m willing to go. I’ve accepted the fact that my youth has been spent decades ago and I’ve been on a slow, unalterable decline ever since. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had cosmetic surgery but that’s only because I’ve smashed in my face a couple of times. If I hadn’t I’d look like a bobble head made out of raw hamburger. Now, there’s an image.
I’ll also fess up to a degree of vanity. It’s been a while since I’ve gone on a ride with my trademark checkered, short sleeve button front shirts. I’ll also wear my “kit” when I’m working an event where it’s expected that I “represent” so I’ll acquiesce and dress the part.
But I think that there’s a percent of riders out there who refuse to accept the fact that their bodies are falling apart and the flab they’ve accumulated as a result of desk jobs, family obligations, and piles of artery clogging snack foods and attempt to hide that fact by buying a bike that would hopefully distract the casual viewer from the fact their body is largely made of cholesterol and cellulite.
Every time I hear the term “comb over” I see some guy in an ill-fitting suit with a loud tie, a meaty looking face, and an expensive, showy sports car and drives it like he’s just robbed a bank. By extrapolation the comb over cyclist buys a bike that may actually exceeds his needs or riding style and is usually a top dollar popular name brand with high end race oriented components. Not to be outdone by the car driving comb over counterpart the comb over cyclist adorns himself with either full factory team racing clothing or colors and patterns that may be considered “age inappropriate”.
I’m sure every group of riders had their “comb over rider”. I’m sure that there’s a touch of “comb over rider” in every one of us. I plead guilty for lusting after bikes I can’t afford and exceed my skill set. I also plead guilty for choosing some rather questionable fashion choices from the past. Somewhere there’s a photo of me riding with one pink Chuck Taylor Converse and one turquoise Chuck Taylor with purple riding shorts I just know it. Eh, we all did stupid @#&% during the eighties.
I’ve worked on bikes for an embarrassingly long period of time and there’s one salient reason to go for upper end components, most work better than their lower end counterparts. Granted, there are some lower end components that work 99% as well as their upper end brethren but it’s up to you as a consumer to either work with an honest shop or find some non biased source of information (hah! that’s a hot one) to help you with your decision. The second is that a lot of higher end components are easier to set up vs. entry-level components. Most mid level stuff is generally okay and will give you about 60 to 80% of the performance of what the pro stuff offers you albeit with a weight penalty.
Hey, if you’ve got the means to buy yourself a flashy new toy, go for it. Anything beyond basic necessities are beyond my reach at the moment so to an extent I live vicariously through your reckless spending habits. But no one wants to be “that guy” in the group. You know, the guy who shows up on rides with the latest and greatest equipment but somehow always seems to crash their brains out before they even leave the parking lot. That guy.
If that new shock, seatpost, pedal, tire, makes you feel more confident in the same way Dumbo’s magic feather helped him fly, rock on. But if you are buying a new top dollar accessory just to because it matches the color scheme of your car’s upholstery I think you are missing the point.
Perhaps our decision concerning bike and component purchasing is wrong. I can understand the desire to acquire. Robert Anton Wilson wrote a lot about the mammalian hording instinct and neophilia (that is a person or personality type characterized by a strong affinity for novelty). Sounds a bit like the bike industry as a whole. Let’s face it there’s only so many times you can reinvent the wheel.
I haven’t any qualms about buying replacement parts as stuff wares out, or upgrading outmoded componentry due to the inability to buy exact replacement parts, or if something is broken, or if you move to an area where your current bike is inappropriate for the territory but buying stuff just to impress other riders?
Get out the hair care products and a comb.
Your bike is going to need it.