As a certified bike snob, what am I looking for in a bike? My last bike was a good match and there were lots of things I liked about it. It was a Bianchi 928 painted in a special edition white paint to celebrate Danilo DiLuca’s victory in the new world tour points series. If you know your history, prior to this things were set up a little differently. The world champion wore horizontal rainbow stripes. That is the guy that one the one day race. Then there was a guy that wore vertical rainbow stripes as the leader of the points tally. That is the kit that morphed into the white jersey for the “world tour”. I don’t even think they have a jersey for that anymore, but Rodriguez won the points over Chris Froome in 2013. I only ever saw one bike in real life with the same paint job and it was an Aluminum FG Lite. So there was a sense of exclusivity that I liked. The Bianchi was also pretty good at about everything. It was light enough, it was comfortable and it sprinted pretty well. I was perfectly happy riding centuries on it. It was very sure footed on descents. I loved it. To me it was a 911 Carrera. All the sporting credentials you need with daily drive-ability. Now after 7 years of ownership, I’ve been able to test ride a couple of bikes in search of my next dancing partner. I’d love to have another newer 911 or maybe even up a level to something analogous to an Audi R8. If you haven’t ridden a flagship carbon bike in 7 years, I’m going to let you in on a secret: bikes have gotten MUCH better. Suddenly my 911 Carrera looks like it’s from the late 60s with the little air cooled engines putting out 128 hp.
So what does a 911 or Audi R8 look like now in bike terms? I’ve been liking the Cervelo R5 and the Bianchi Oltre. They are both flagship bikes and both race in the world tour. Both bikes have come out with important updates for the 2014 year model that made them even more appealing. I also have the hots for the Colnago C59. It’s a world tour bike too, but I keep expecting Colnago to come out with an upgraded model. All three of those would certainly be exclusive. I don’t think anyone in Huntsville owns any of those bikes. The Cervelo and the Bianchi will not be stocked in bike stores as they are so exclusive, the only way to actually see one is to put a deposit down. Turns out, you can actually buy a real 911 Carrera for the same money. That means no test rides on the real deal. So what can you do? You can test drive the R3 and sample the baby brother. I actually did that and I was impressed. It was my first test ride and I was blown away. It was comfortable, it was stiff, it was much lighter than my old Bianchi. There were some things I didn’t like but there were so many things that I did like I started to get my head around the things I thought were funny like the BBRight bottom bracket standard and tons of toe overlap in a size 54. The tall head tube didn’t bother me, on my fit I would just run a slammed stem and it would be perfect and look pro to boot. I also tested an S5 and I thought it was going to beat me up. Those really aero seat stays couldn’t be that compliant. But they didn’t beat me up. I actually thought it was lovely and now I believe David P when he says it’s quite comfortable. Oh, and it was fast. Really fast. If you are a breakaway specialist you should have a look.
Last night though I had a date with something else. Something that hadn’t been on my radar. And I loved it. It’s not a 911 or an Audi R8. But I have the perfect car analogy. It’s a Mustang Boss 302 in a Laguna Seca edition where they add the extra roll bar for stiffness and take out the rear seats. It’s an off the lot race car and for someone who does crits and needs something stiff out of corners it’s perfect. Through the S5 test drive I have come to appreciate aero and I want a slice of that pie as well. This bike has all of that. And even better, it comes at a price point south of a Porsche. I’m heading over at lunch today to buy one!