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They don’t build em like they used to. And that’s a good thing.

June 30, 2008

So ten years of advancement in bike design just passed me by while living in Japan. I did see the occasional high-end road machine zip by, usually gaijin-owned, but in the land of mama-cherries, never had much interaction with anything more advanced than single-gear, basket-mounted neighborhood cruisers. Man was I missing out.

With gas prices rising and my beltline expanding, there was never a better time than now to get back in the saddle. Honolulu is such a small city, I am surprised more people don’t take advantage of pedal power. I guess people are starting to, though, judging by what the bike shop pros are saying.

With my recent history of riding bikes designed in circa 1975, I didn’t have much knowledge to go on in making an informed purchase. I did know that I didn’t want to buy the crap they sell in Walmart. That was a good starting point. Then, by chance, I lunched with a friend whose boyfriend works in The Bike Shop. That’s right, they have the cajones to call themselves simply the bike shop. The store seemed to be staffed by former bike messengers and failed downhill racers (aside from the owner, who resembled the Simpsons comic book guy) – slightly intimidating to a novice like me, but also quite knowledgeable.

They steered me toward the Crosstrail, by Specialized, an entry-level hybrid that is perfect for commuting and light trail riding. I swapped out the trail tires for some kevlar-lined fatties that are built for speed but can handle the potholes and grassy shortcuts that abound in this neck of the woods. The attention to detail and functional beauty in every part of the bike, from the grips to the saddle to the gearshifters just blows me away. The frame is light and super-solid, the ride smooth and powerful.

All day long I sit in my office like a schoolboy waiting for the day to end so I can enjoy my bikeride home.

Bike, full view

Bike, closeup

Bike saddle

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