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Friday, June 06, 2008

Riding the Frankenbike

For my short visit to California, I didn't bother lugging my custom bike over just to lug it back to Germany again, especially since this time I have to bring the tandem over. So I borrowed my brother's Frankenbike and used it to commute to work.

It's a great bike. The funny thing is I don't miss any of the gears. 5 speed drive-trains really don't suck, which makes me wonder why anybody rides 8 speeds, 9 speeds, or 10 speeds. Oh wait, because you can't buy any 5 speed cassette hubs, and cassette hubs are better than freewheels.

The only gear I could consider that I was missing was the 12 tooth cog --- if I were chasing Cheryl Prothero along Portola Valley and she cranked up to 30mph, I would want that gear. But that's strictly speaking only an argument for 6 speed freewheels.

Too often, in cycling, we always assume that the latest and greatest is the best. It isn't. 10 speed chains are weaker, cost more, and frequently the indexing goes out of whack in all but the best conditions. A woman friend of mine ripped teeth of her 10 speed chainrings, because they got shaved so thin that they don't last. Lisa and I have ripped apart 9 speed chains on our tandem. So all those advancements in technology that brought us 8, 9, and 10 speed drive-trains? Marketing. Pure and simple. And we only have ourselves to blame, because we suck it all up, and then ask for 11 speeds.

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