Why Not? Because...

After last week's rant about press-fit bottom brackets, I started thinking about what I wanted in a non-race bike. This would be a bike that would be used in the rain. It would be ridden in the early and late seasons, in less than ideal conditions. It would get packed up for flights periodically. It would probably end up locked down to the trainer for extended periods. It would have to perform reasonably well and somewhat mimic the position of my race bikes. It doesn't have to be at the pinnacle of bicycle performance, but has to be durable.
So, I came up with my list:
  • Frame material: Metal of some kind (steel, titanium, or aluminum). Quality metal frames generally hold up to abuse, with the nod going to ti and steel for vibration dampening. I do as many miles as I can when I travel, so a little less buzzing is always appreciated.
  • Bottom bracket: English threaded. Period. End of discussion.
  • Headset: While I really like tapered headsets, I'm fine with a standard 1 1/8" straight steerer if the fork and headset are of adequate quality.
  • Cable Routing: External. It's a training bike, so the .25 watts you save over a 40K time trial with internal cable routing don't really trump all of the ass pain it takes to build and maintain those internal cables. I don't know about you, but for me derailleur adjustments are a lot easier when I can actually grab the cable.
  • Finish: Anything that's easy to clean and/or won't show dirt. Again, training bike.
With that small list of requirements, I started looking.
I browsed more than a few custom builders, drooling over the possibilities and then choking on the prices. I quickly realized that if I was going to go this route, this bike would likely stay with me for a long, long time. While I have certainly turned over far more than my share of bikes in the last 10 years, I've also held onto more than a few. My time trial bike has been with me since 2008. My faithful Ridley, although rebuilt and ready for sale, is still hanging from hooks in the garage, such is my sentimental attachment to it (and overall laziness). My trusty blue Madone has been in service four years, and will see a few more. I like trying on bikes and seeing if they fit. If they do, I keep them. If they don't, I pass them on. Problem is, I have no idea if an expensive custom build will inspire a sense of loyalty or just be discarded as yet another "almost but not quite". I never know how much I'm going to like a bike until I ride it for a while.
Then I jumped over to eBay, cruising the frames for possibilities. The first thing I noticed was that Lynskey is dumping a few titanium frames, somewhat flooding the market. I'd been watching a bunch of auctions for framesets I liked for a couple weeks, so I waited to see if the glut would encourage individual sellers to drop their prices. In more than a few cases, it did.
When an auction price for a titanium frame dropped significantly, I jumped on it. It checked off all of the basic requirements except for the tapered headset, but I have a nice Easton fork for it that should mitigate that minor quibble somewhat.
I've never owned a titanium bike before, other than the giant ti frame Joey Bacala traded me that I still need to offload. Once the new frame is built, it might ride like a giant, semi-liquid turd. It might be exactly what I'm looking for. I'll have no idea until I get there.
At the price it sold for, I just couldn't pass up the chance to roll the dice.
All of the parts I need to make it whole are in the garage, just waiting for the day in the not-too-distant future when a box of possibilities will arrive at my door. Maybe I'll find time to build it up for my Mississippi trip. Maybe I'll save it for the long, dark months ahead.
At this stage, its potential is boundless. It won't always be, but for now it's still magic, which is part of the reason I start so many of these projects.
Nobody tell my wife, OK?


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