In the summer of 1979, I finished the 7th grade with $180 in my savings account. I knew exactly what I wanted – a new Schwinn Le Tour IV ten-speed bike. At 13.6 kg, it was “way lighter” than my brother’s tank of a bike – the ubiquitous Varsity. As with most kids and their bikes, it meant total freedom since I could now go anywhere I wanted without having to ask for a ride. But then I saw the movie Breaking Away, and bike riding became cycling. The next day, I upgraded my bike with a pair of toe clips. Now I could race the bus to school and win, and make the three mile climb up Chantry Flats without stopping. I rode that bike everywhere – even into my college years.
Without turning this into a memoir, let’s fast forward 35 years. I’m yearning for the good old days and want another road bike. After a bit of research, I settle on a Cannondale SuperSix Evo. I really like the bike. It’s light. It handles well, and the carbon frame with modern components make it really fun to ride. My only grievance is that it uses external cable routing. I don’t know why this bugs me so much. Some people say it’s much easier to maintain, but if that is true, the fact is during the other 364 days per year, it just looks retro.
So then I start to research pro bikes like the Venge, and Madone – beautiful bikes with completely hidden cabling – but a $10K+ price tag. Then while riding my first club century, I team up with a guy riding this beautiful carbon frame with internal cabling and no decals. I ask him what kind of bike it is, and I am exposed to the world of open-mold frames. I decide that some day, I am going to build a new bike exactly the way I want it using open-mold parts.
If you are new to the open-mold concept, they are the carbon parts of your bike, made by companies mostly in China and Taiwan. The idea is that these are the companies that make frames, forks, wheels, saddles, and handlebars for the name brand companies, but have created their own unique designs and sell them for considerably less than for what the big bike companies sell them. So now I just need to figure out what I want, and put it all together.