At the end of last year I designed a web site for my friend, Mike Henley's new bike shop, Mike's Got Wheels, in Gaffney, South Carolina. Last time I owned a bike I had a lot of trouble with my legs and thought my bike riding days were behind me. I test rode a few recumbent trikes and had no leg pain! I thought Hallelujah! I have a hundred pounds to lose, here is my answer. I was all set to get a recumbent trike when I rode several upright diamond frame bikes on a whim. No leg pain! Wahg! Mass confusion set it before I learned that the problem was most likely a poor fit on my previous bike than my legs.
So after learning a ton about recumbent trikes and even setting up a recumbent bike web site, BentNuts.com, I decided I liked the upright position, agility, and better vision and visibility of a traditional bike. I visited eleven bike shops and manufacturers, dozens and dozens of web sites, read books and magazines, and finally created a list of the things I wanted on my perfect bike that I would love and ride forever.
It had to have; the recommended medium sized aluminum frame, 29" or 700c wheels, a rigid fork or a fork with a mechanical lockout, disc brakes, double walled rims, trigger (not twist) shifter, low enough gears to handle all of the nasty curvy hills in SC, and a fairly wide tire in case I had to ride on the shoulder of the road. I narrowed it down to four that met my "needs", all of which ran right at around six hundred dollars; Felt Trail 9, Trek PDX, Giant Roam 1, or Giant Seek 2.
Today I bought a new 2010 Giant Boulder. It has a large Cro-moly (steel) frame, 26" tires, caliper brakes, single wall rims, trigger shifters with a 14 - 34 teeth cassette, and 26 x 2.10" Kenda K-Rad tires. The bike cost $299.00. I enjoyed the test ride on it more than some $1,200.00 bikes I rode. The Shimano components shifted flawlessly.
The steel frame absorbs vibration much better than an aluminum one. I like the "improper" fit of the large frame much better than the cramped feel of the recommended medium sized frames. The 26" wheels are a bit more agile and since I am riding for enjoyment and exercise, not speed or transportation, I didn't need the bigger 29" wheels. Double walled rims are really for off road riding or riding on really crappy roads with lots of potholes. Disc brakes are a nice option, but unless I am riding Cyclocross, have a bent or out of true rim, or ride in the rain a lot, they are really just a luxury.
It came down to getting a dependable, solid bike that I would enjoy riding and that would last me for a good long while. Most of my wish list was frills, not necessities. I can't see a need to upgrade anytime soon. Sometimes the saying "You get what you pay for" just isn't true. A lot of it is just marketing and brand recognition. Nobody is going to convince me that a ten thousand dollar bike has eight thousand dollars more value than a two thousand dollar bike. Take off the price tags and labels and it comes down to which ride feels the best. I'd guess less than 2% of riders can see any difference!
I got a bike I love for half the price of the bikes I "wanted" by shaking off the advertising (and some of the experts), and trusting my body and my intelligence.
Should a Rock ride on a Giant Boulder? My answer is definitely yes.