Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Road Bike Boom

The road bike boom of the new millennium has officially arrived. A bottled water company is giving away a cheesy road bike as part of a promotion. Drop bars and skinny tires return to the department store bike.

The classic 50-pound hunk of junk has picked up a few refinements. It still has stem shifters and a one-piece crank, but it has forged, vertical dropouts at the end of ridiculously tight rear stays. The one-inch fork uses a threaded headset and quill stem, but the fork blades are straight, angled and tapered. The welds are clean and unobtrusive.

I would need to ride the bike to know if the geometry is sporty or just bastardized. But it's a road bike, not a mountain bike or a cruiser.

Could we see a return of the road bike like we did in the 1970s? Could the Boomers' children and grandchildren feel so vigorous and vital that they want to pedal through the landscape?

The 1970s bike boom did not create a golden age of motorist understanding, so I don't expect any cycling renaissance to produce a miracle. But there are signs that cycling is captivating more and more people of all ages and types, because of all the benefits it offers them.

This could be good. Let's just hope the industry doesn't foul it up this time.