Remember when you were 8 years old and your parents bought you a $1501 dollar bike? Like me, you probably put that bike through its paces, jumping off curbs, going off-road, and generally mistreating it like everything else you didn't pay for with our own money. Despite all of the abuse, I can't remember any of my bikes actually ever breaking. Like products made by Fisher-Price, they pretty much seemed indestructible.
Fast-forward to 2010: I decided to buy my first bike in over a decade so that I could get exercise by commuting to work (that it would also allow me to avoid taking Washington's terrible Metro system was just icing on the cake). Buying a brand new bike entails a lot of equipment costs (tools, helmet, rack, clothing, headlight, reflectors, lock, etc.) so I decided to go 'cheap' and pick up a Diamondback Insight 1, which frequently retails for $400, but I scored a previous-year model for $250. It took about 2 weeks for the problems to begin.
My commute is roughly 7.5 mi each way (~11.5 km). While there are a few hills and the occasional small bumps, it is paved and decidedly not 'off-road'. Yet I was snapping spokes on a regular basis (~1 every 2 weeks). The entire crank broke and had to be replaced (with certain parts removed because they were interfering with the derailleur) and the entire rear wheel was rebuilt last fall. Last week a pedal snapped off and I decided that enough was enough - to hell with this thing!
I'd saved a bit of cash and decided that this time I was going to buy a much higher quality bike. I shopped around the local bike stores (there are 3 within walking distance of my place) and after consulting a 'flock' of reviews, I set my sights on the Cannondale Quick 2, which retails at wallet burning $1,029:
For 4x the price I expect no less than 10x fewer things breaking. It's nice that it looks a lot sleeker than the Insight 1, but like many things, a bike's shininess is inversely proportional to the amount of use it gets.
The going consensus about Cannondale according to the portions of the interwebs that I've frequented is that it's a relatively pricey, high-end bike company that's known for quality and reliability. Speaking with the technicians at REI2 I was told that given the amount of biking that I'm doing I should probably have invested in something more high-end than my previous bike in the first place. However, even they thought that my difficulties sounded excessive.
So I biked to work on the new wheels today and noted some differences. For starters the new bike is noticeably lighter due to Cannondale's aluminum frames. It's certainly easier to carry up and down stairs, but I also think I generate less resistance on the road (more biking will be needed to confirm this). It's also a 27-speed bike, whereas every previous bike I've had has been a 21 or less. I notice a difference in that there's much less change in torque when switching up or down a single gear. It'll take some getting used to, I suppose.
So I'm excited about the shiny (not for long) new toy, but it leaves me in an odd position: What to do with the lemon? My parents think that I should sell it, but no one I know would want to buy it (I've posted too many Facebook rants about all of the difficulties I've been having). Furthermore, even if I wanted to sell it on Craig's List, I'd still have to replace a spoke and the pedals which would run me $50 (I can't imagine that I could get more than $100 for it given that the tires need replacing as well).
What I think I really want to do is this: strip the thing for parts, then find a high cliff somewhere. I'd tie a brick to one of the pedal nubs (for effect) and throw it off said cliff, preferably engineering some form of explosion when it hits the bottom. That would be awesomely satisfying. Good riddance!
1Incidentally, this translates to ~$260 in 2011.
2For Canadian readers, think of the American version of Mountain Equipment Co-op, though I realize that this is an anachronism.