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Polkadot Steel Bicycles
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Thoughts on Frame Material and Ride Feel
All materials fatigue when pushed, time after time, beyond their limit.  Only steel can be flexed nearly infinite times when not pushed beyond its intended purpose.  All other materials on Earth fatigue with every cycle.  Wood, fiberglass, titanium, aluminum, plastic, they all degrade.  Masi offers a lifetime guarantee on their steel frames and, like most other companies, only five years on non-steel bikes.  

Buying a new bike is a special deal, but the biggest deal is when you want to actually ride the bike instead of finding ways to make it comfortable.  After 3-4 hours on a steel bike on Nebraska roads and paths you will be exhilarated from the trip and not beat up.  If you are out test-riding bikes around the area, be sure to find a really bad street and a hill and do the test.  Are you avoiding the saddle because of the bumps?  Are your hands buzzing?  Do you feel comfortable taking one hand off the bars on a bumpy street?  Does the bike feel active and alive or does it feel hard and inert?  Then find a hill.  Climb it.  When you push on the pedals do the seem to get out of the way and assist you or does it feel like you're pushing against an immovable object?  When you descend the hill does the bike float over the bumps and stay pointed downhill or does every bump jerk the handlebar and try to send you off in random directions?  Do you feel comfortable with one hand?    

A steel bike is going to weigh about 20% more than a comparably-priced aluminum or unpainted composite bike, but when you add your body weight and your gear the difference is going to be 198lbs vs. 195lbs (2-3% based on a 175lb rider).  So, you have to ask yourself if getting a lifetime warranty and a superior ride quality is worth a 2% cut in weight.  Keep in mind that the overall average increase in speed of professionals since 1939 is less than 2 mph.  So the type of bike you ride has almost zero to do with how fast you go, which begs the question...what's the hurry?  

Swing by, test-ride a bike, climb a hill, ride some gravel.  

It's all about the ride.  


I once went into a giant Berlin bike shop and asked the crusty old German working the counter if he had any old parts, etc. in the basement that he wanted to offload. He told me "old stuff is no good. Only the new stuff this year works."  Well, this crusty old German disagrees.  

Liège–Bastogne–Liège, often called La Doyenne ("The Old Lady") is a one-day classic cycling race in Belgium. First run in 1892, it is the oldest of the five Monuments of the European professional road cycling calendar; usually coming as the last of the spring classics. It is held annually in late April, in the Ardennes region of Belgium, from Liège to Bastogne and back.

Here are the winning average speeds over the years.  Keep in mind, riders in past decades rode on rough roads, slept in gymnasiums, and travelled in trains.  

1939  37.35 kph  Ritserveldt
1949  36.78  Danguillaume
1959  35.51  De Bruyne
1969  37.02  E. Merckx
1979  36.71  Thurau
1989  36.24 S. Kelly
1997  35.7 M. Bartoli
2004  38.44 Camenzind
2016  38.7  Poels