by: Dr. Ken Taraszka
Lance Armstrongs record-setting seven consecutive Tour de France victories have brought cycling to America and, with triathlons becoming the new drug of the 40-something crowd, you can see why cycling is growing at an astronomical rate in this country, as well as abroad.
KHS Flight 720 - $1,299 - KHS has long been known for making solid bikes and selling them at unreal prices and the new Flight 720 keeps with that trend, offering a complete bike with a carbon fusion frame and fork for less than many frames alone. The bike comes fully equipped with Shimano 105 components and Mavic rims to get you into the sport without breaking the bank. Utilizing the same frame as their Team bike, you could easily upgrade components as your riding level increases, making this a great entry bike for the aspiring road rider.
Cervelo P3C - $4,500 - Cervelo has been making winning bikes for years, but the new P3C is truly in a class of its own. Despite Cervelo supplying only one cycling team and a handful of triathletes, the P3C has become the most successful time trial bicycle on the Pro Tour circuit and triathlon bike on the Ironman circuit, with two world championships and 19 Ironman victories. This bike is as aerodynamic as they come. Available in sizes from 48 to 61 cm, the Cervelo P3C can fit anyone from the five-foot-tall lady to the six-foot-six Clydesdale of a rider. Sure, to really compete, youll want to add some cool and fast disc wheels ($2,000 plus) and maybe some carbon bars, but off the rack, its a formidable contender in the triathlon circuit and, with some simple changes, it can be a world-class race machine. Cervelo even offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner for the carbon fiber frame. More Cervelo P3Cs are ridden in the Hawaiian Ironman than all bikes by any other manufacturer. If you want to go fast, this is the bike to be on.
Orbea Orca - made to order from $4,435 to $7,074 - Coming from the hills of Spain, this is one of the newest bikes to take America by storm, and for good reason. The Orbea line offers plenty of carbon fiber and solid design. The Orca has some of the sexiest frame lines around and not only do they make the bike look great, but they also make it incredibly stiff while keeping it light. The frame itself weighs only 845 grams or just under 30 ounces, and a complete bike can easily weigh less than 15 pounds. Made in the Pyrenees, some of the most famous hills of Europe, these bikes are built to climb and weigh as little as possible to make climbing easier. Note: if you want to race this bike, it may be too light to enter some races!
Seven Cycles Aerios - $3,595 frame only, complete bikes from $6,200 and higher - For a bicycling company that is only 10 years old to reach the pinnacle of the road bike business is amazing, but how Seven did it is even more impressive. Many bike makers will sell you a custom frame, charge you extra and make you wait for months or more for your new bike to arrive. Seven has taken a completely different route. They expect your bike to be custom. Buying a Seven is like joining a club. You spend a few hours being measured and re-measured, but the measurements are only part of the design process. You also tell Seven how you ride, what you liked and disliked about other bikes youve owned and more. They put all this information together and, once they have a preliminary idea of the geometry, they call you yes, actually call you on the phone to discuss it further, giving you the level of customization only the pros enjoyed. When you get your Seven, it will be perfectly designed for you and make you the best rider you can be. How well do they do this? Well, one in 10 people who get a Seven catalogue in their hands buy a Seven! The Aerios is a climbers dream. All the titanium tubes are triple-butted, removing extra weight where it isnt needed, making for one of the lightest bikes out there. If you cant climb the hills with this bike, youd better do more legwork, as there is nothing on this bike to hold you back.
Trek Madone 6.9 Pro - $8,249.99 - Do you think you have the legs and skill of a world-class cyclist? Why not try yourself out on the bike that propelled Lance Armstrong to his record seven Tour de France victories? The Madone has been the penultimate road bike in the Trek line for a few years and this one shows why its kept that spot. It has a full OCLV carbon fiber frame, carbon fiber fork and steerer tube, carbon fiber wheels, a carbon fiber seat post, a carbon fiber stem and bars. Basically, the entire bike is carbon fiber, except for the Shimano Dura Ace components. This bike is handmade in the USA and a true off-the-shelf race-ready bike that will make any club rider jealous. If you have the legs for it, this bike will let you do things few other rides can. Remember it is designed as a race bike and, as such, its not designed for comfort. This machine is built for speed and it does that very well.
Cant get out to ride? You can always spin indoors for a good cardiovascular workout and keep in shape for the off-season on one of these stationary bikes.
Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike - $699 - This is the bike that started the exercise bike movement, featuring both upper and lower body workout and a large fan for wind resistance. The Airdyne gets tougher the faster you pedal, while at the same time keeping you cool with all that air. An LCD display lets you know your time, distance, RPMs, workload and calories burned. An optional heart rate monitor can be added to keep a closer eye on your training.
Motus M660BUL - $4,699 - Lets face it, when you cant get out to ride, stationary bikes will give you the cardio workout, but they can be tedious. Not the Motus M660BUL, equipped with every gadget you could want including a 10.4-inch TFT LCD television panel with NTSC, PAL and SECAM capabilities. The resistance mechanism is totally silent, so it wont interfere with your favorite shows. The display shows time, distance, calories burned, speed, heart rate and even output wattage. It comes with 10 preprogrammed workouts and five user-programmable workouts, so you can set one for that hill that always hurts everyone at the start of the next season and be sure to be ready when spring arrives. If you want to keep in shape indoors, theres no better way than this.
So you dont want to put on the spandex tights and plastic-soled shoes for a ride to the beach? No problem. The beach cruiser market has also seen a huge upsurge in practical and standout bikes. Once upon a time, the only cool beach cruisers were custom one-off jobs, but the mass market has taken to creating some totally unique bikes sure to give you a great ride and a get you lot of attention.
Firmstrong 26-inch Rebel - $259 - Offering a super-stretched-out wheelbase with massive tires and rims, this thing looks more like a motorcycle than a bicycle. The long, low frame makes it easy to get on and off, while that triple tree fork and flames make it seem like something straight off American Chopper. Full steel frame, simple single-speed design and coaster brake make it sure to last and easy to maintain. This Rebel is clearly the bad boy of beach cruisers.
Paul Frank Julius and Skurvy beach cruisers - $350 - Basically painted-up versions of the Nirve Galaxie bike made of 100 percent high-tensile steel frame and fork, this simple and over the top cool-looking single-speed bike with coaster brake will immediately transport you back to those childhood days when you first learned to ride. The Julius comes with black fenders adorned with red pinstripes. The light blue frame may look feminine to some, so if you like, Paul Frank has tougher-looking bikes like the Skurvy, sure to make even the most socially despondent punk proud. Either way, the bikes come with such beach cruiser necessities as a front basket and the I love my bike bell to announce your arrival. A welded-on kick stand lets you easily get off and on the bike to take advantage of the world around you.