After much deliberation and the uncovering of a sweet deal at a Performance Bike retail location I have a new bike in my garage:
It’s a Breezer Radar Expert. All in, I picked it up for a little over $600 which seems like a steal compared to bikes I have bought in the past. If you are a cyclist from the 1990s, especially a mountain biker, spending just north of six hundred dollars for a bicycle that is reliable and competent seems amazing. I remember there being component groups that were cobbled together and barely worked when new let alone a few months down the road.
Also, if you are a historian of the bicycle industry the name Breezer should be familiar. Joe Breeze, the name behind Breezer, was one of the founding fathers of mountain biking along with other luminaries like Gary Fisher. The company that makes Breezer bikes today is not the same bespoke operation from the 1970s through 1990s, but it retains some of the mystique.
It checks off almost every criteria I had for a new bicycle:
- Steel frame—This is a personal preference. I ride steel bicycles.
- Disc brakes—One nod to modernity. One ride on a friend’s disc equipped bike converted me in an instant. One ride in inclement weather with finicky cantilevers made me actively seek out a replacement for the dirt wagon.
- External headset—Chris King had a famous online post about why integrated headsets were essentially the devil reincarnated as a bicycle design trend. The world seems to be going to integrated and zero stack systems despite the proven longevity and maintainability of good ol’ external headsets. Plus, is there a cooler looking component than a Chris King headset?
- Threaded bottom bracket shell—You can take your creaky press fit bottom bracket and enjoy the disharmonious symphony on group rides. I will take my old school threaded bottom bracket shell and its quiet labor any day of the week.
- Non-integrated seatpost binder—This seems like a trivial bit of frame design, but dealing with problems related to integrated binder bolts will drive even the most patient person to question the very nature of their existence. If the non-integrated seatpost binder starts giving you trouble just replace the damn thing. Five minutes of work and no frustration.
The components are nothing special—Shimano Sora all the way around with some OEM wheels, WTB tires, SRAM crank, etc. However, for a little more than $600 I am on the road riding which is in the neighborhood of what I was looking at spending on a frame and fork combo. Sure, the frame is not as good as the model I was considering purchasing. How great of a difference would it have been and would I have noticed?
Now I am able to upgrade the bits on the bike on my schedule. This equates to buying the upgrades when I find them on sale and replacing components piece meal. Thankfully most bikes these days do not spec pedals because it is such a personal choice. I usually go with Shimano M520s. I think that for an average price of around $30 you cannot go wrong. However, for Christmas I was gifted a pair of Shimano PD-M8020s which are normally outside of my price range. I am fairly stoked about the stainless axle and bearings that can be replaced because I have chewed through bearings on the M520s.
One change that I made immediately was to swap out the stock bar for a Salsa Cowchipper 44cm from my previous gravel bike. The stock bar was quite narrow owing to the smaller frame size and not compatible with my broad shoulders. I am giving the drop bar a second chance since the geometry of this bike is much less aggressive and I feel that it will put less stress of my hands. Also, I put gel vibration pads under a cushy EVA bar tape to hopefully help out with some of the hand pain issues that I was having on longer rides.
Today was the first day that I have gotten out to ride and…it hurt. I also forgot how much work it is to dial in a new bike. It is going to take a few rides just to feel comfortable on the new bike but it is close as is right now. A more comprehensive report is forthcoming.
Get out there and ride!