[biking] I Swear, It’s Not An Impulse Purchase

So, a while back, I was talking about buying a bike again. As you can tell, I generally put too much thought into these things.
The short telling of the story is this. I isolated nine bikes on my list of wants, within the build-type of cyclo-cross.

I then proceeded to buy none of them.

Instead, I ended up with the manufaturer that first attracted me to cyclocross: Opus. And I went further up the ladder. And I bought the Opus Stern.

For anyone who only cares about that much (or who doesn’t care at all, but made it this far to find out what was going on) you can stop now. For those who wanna know how the hell I ended up that much further up the line than I’d planned… Onwards and inwards.

So, I had seven bikes to look at seriously (two, the Devinci Tosca SL1 and Marin Cortina were WAAAAY out of my league, price-wise).

I tried the Scott CX Comp, and it was… ok. But too mountain-bike-y. The Rocky Mountain Solo CX, same problem. Both had great components, and were wicked light. But they just didn’t feel like the bike I wanted. That’s a tough call, too, as both bike stores were fantastic (Kunstadt Sports Bank/Walkley and Cycle Power on Bank Street respectively). Super friendly, definitely “bike guys”. Invites from both stores to come out and ride with them on specific nights, as they organize weekly rides. Both the Scott and Rocky Mountain bikes were great deals (under $1200-1300 range, with all Tiagra components), but just.. not right.

I was less impressed with Tommy & Lefebvre. I’m not necessarily saying this is a store problem, but when I’m looking at a $1200 Specialized TriCross Sport, I expect you to be willing to take the time to put pedals on it so I can test-ride, rather than to advise me to come back next weekend during their sale, when they’ll have test rides going on outside in the parking lot.

Initially, I really liked Dinardo’s. But, I went in looking for (oddly) the Opus Stern and Sequence. They didn’t have either built, or even in stock. While I was there, the owner (I think) steered me towards the Felt F75x.

Now, that’s a bike that I really, really liked. On paper. Because, again, they didn’t have one built (but did, apparently, have one in stock in the basement). Why did I like it? Because for my ballpark price, it had componentry an additional level up: Shimano 105, specifically.

Perfect, right?

Yeah, except I was never able to contact them again. No response to email, and never got an answer on the phone, and they never called me. And that’s a shame. I was really, really interested in the Felt. Spoonsie assured me they’re solid bikes, but trying to get a foothold in the market means you get more for less. That’s a philosophy I can get behind (see the Hyundai I drive).

So, that one was out, sadly.

Previously, the Norco CCX had been the “on paper winner”. I went and rode it at the same store I’d had my good experience with the Giant: Fresh Air Experience. Which is funny: I had a truly LOUSY experience with them ten years ago. THe current staff though? Incredibly accomodating. I dealt with Jessica primarily (who’s a road rider, and incredibly enthusiastic) and Peter. Both great.
Basically, I went in after riding the Giant there, and then after my experiences at Dinardo’s, T&L’s, Kunstadt, and cyclepower. I told them what I’d been looking at, and what I still really needed to see, and their answer was simple: “We can’t accomodate the Sequence: we made the decision not to order any, as the componentry vs price wasn’t what we feel was a good deal. HOwever, we do have both a 56cm Opus Stern, and 56cm Norco CCX in stock. We’ll build them, tune them, and you can ride them and make a decision, yay or nay, on either, no obligation.”

That’s service.

So, I rode the Norco. And it was really good. For the price I was going to pay, it was more than acceptable. Aluminum fork rather than carbon, but Tiagra components. The tires would need swapping out (700c X 37 ouch) for something skinnier and less off-road aggressive, but otherwise, great. What I didn’t like, though, was the disc brakes.

Not only do they attract thieves, because they’re still rare enough to stand out, but I didn’t like the feel of them, and they added nearly three pounds to the bike. Other than that, the bike was fantastic, though.

A week later, however, I rode the Opus Stern.

And it was a perfect fit. I clicked immediately on that bike. My back felt great, body position was excellent, and in general, I felt fast and comfortable. Even with the wider-than-I’m-used-to tires (700c X 32: I have 700c X 28 on my Devinci) I was butt-dyno quicker than on my regular bike.

I took the longest test-ride of any bike so far. And about half way, at Tunny’s Pasture, I stopped for a moment, propped the bike up and stood back.

I took a picture of my bike.

Yes, I just said my bike. I’d pretty much decided that it was a done deal at that point. Rode comfortably back to the store, dismounted, pushed the bike inside, and got Jessica’s attention again. “That’s my bike. I can either put a deposit on it now, or you can leave it on the floor and order me one up which I’ll pay for when it comes in, but either way, that’s my bike.”


I pick it up this weekend. Maybe Friday.

The only thing I still need is pedals, and I think it’ll be cheap ones to start with.


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