|Starting out on pavement.|
Part of this "education" is breaking the mold of perceptions that skinny 23mm tires at 120psi are faster and that you should have the lightest bicycle possible. Quite frankly, the cycling brands that most folks are aware of push this concept and are continuing to foist these rigs on bike shops and consumers as "the bike" to have. In reality, there are very few folks that can really benefit from having the equivalent of an Formula 1 race car in their garage.
The standard racing bicycle is just as impractical as owning an F-1 car would be for the average person, and just as uncomfortable. Fast? Light? Yes, but at a cost that makes these bikes impractical for anything but smooth tarmac and the limber body of a fine tuned racer. That's unnecessarily limiting, and these bikes are so niche, in reality, that their glaring incompetence for average cycling needs should place them at or near the bottom of choices for cyclists. But they aren't and most of that problem is with perceptions and the brands that play on them.
So we end up slapping on racks where there are no rack mounts, tell folks kickstands don't work with carbon frames, and flip stems up or put on stem extenders. In the end, these bicycles, designed for racing or based directly off racing designs, are modded to be something they are not. Loads are carried on them that end up destroying rear wheels before their time, and of course, those hard, unforgiving 23mm tires at max pressure are not helping at all.
|This silty climb would have been impossible on skinny racing treads.|
Four years ago there weren't many choices for this kind of bike, but now just about every company has one or more of these sorts of bicycles in their line ups. The big problem now is trying to get bike shop staff on board with this idea, and then getting that message out to the masses. This reminds me a lot of the struggles Fisher Bikes had back in the early 00's trying to get dealers to grasp the concept of 29"ers. The dealers that did get the message and translated it successfully reaped great benefits. Same deal with these "all road" bikes here. This could be big. It should be big.
One big mistake the companies that are putting these bikes out are doing is making them appear to be "like a mountain bike", or describing them by saying things like "this is a mountain biker's road bike." What does mountain biking have to do with any of this? Equating these new "all-road", go anywhere bikes with mountain biking is doing them a great disservice. The perception of mountain biking the industry puts out is one of machismo and is rather misogynistic in nature for the most part. That's just one thing wrong with this marketing plan. Many videos I have seen show these bikes in a "mountain biking" context. Doing "rad" moves on the all-road bike shows these bikes are capable, but in the context they are shown in, it becomes a turn off. To the companies doing this sort of marketing for these bikes, it is a buzz kill, not a buzz maker.
The other mistake folks make in the industry is repackaging cyclo cross bikes as "all-road/gravel bikes". The cyclo cross geometry isn't the best for rough roads and loose gravel roads at all. Companies that don't use the easy way out, and do their own geometry have much better riding product and will have happier end users. Cyclo cross bikes, and straight up touring bikes, for that matter, are also generally way too stiff for comfortable cycling, which is paramount for getting these new bikes accepted in a wider arena.
|Going where no road racing bike, and few vehicles, will ever go is a lot of fun.|
That's why I started doing the "Geezer Ride" in various places in Iowa. I wanted to focus on the social side, camaraderie, and all the while try to showcase how cycling on rural roads is not only accessible, but not all that hard and most of all- fun. Hopefully I was somewhat successful in that. It is something shops could do anywhere to promote safe, fun, adventurous riding and show off these new bikes that are extremely capable machines.