Might buy a new bike for La Marmotte!

So I’m thinking about buying a brand new bike specifically for La Marmotte, and I am not someone who adds to the stable on a whim. In fact, my stable until very recently consisted of two bikes, both of which are ten years old. So to be thinking of getting a new bike “just” for a week in France is rather out of character. And honestly, my Fuji Supreme SL with “old” ten-speed Dura-Ace is very lightweight and a great little climbing bike.

However, riding up the Alps is only half the story; there is also a whole lot of riding dooown. Why does that matter? Two words: disc brakes. The bike I rented in September for my rides up the Col d’Ornon, Alpe d’Huez, and Col de Sarenne happened to have disc brakes, which turned out to be a great feature for half-hour-long (!) switchback-filled descents. They reduce the work you have to do to pull your brake levers, helping you avoid crushing forearm burn and fatigue, and they free you from worrying about overheating your rims and blowing off your tires.

Disc brakes on my rental bike were great for the long alpine descents


This time around I will be doing daily rides for a week leading up to the big Marmotte ride, so I figure that rather than rent, why not buy a new bike, fly it to France and back, and then still have a nice bike? Plus, who knows, maybe this La Marmotte adventure won’t be the last of my Grand Fondos in the big mountains!

The issue is that it pretty much has to be a brand new bike, not a deep discount on one of last year’s models or a great deal on a used bike. Disc brakes for road bikes are still new technology, so first of all they aren’t widely available, and second, the standards are changing constantly among manufacturers. This year’s models, however, seem to be settling into some kind of standard, with flat-mount calipers and threaded thru-axles.

Oh and third, I’m a height-challenged person. How often can you find the smallest-size of a frame – on just the bike you want – on sale or on Craigslist?

So if it’s going to be a new bike for La Marmotte, it’s really going to be a new bike, a new-car-smell state-of-the art 2017 steed with all the bells and whistles.


Go to next post: Shopping for the “Marmotte bike

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