Does your bike have a soul?

Funny, I’ve thought about this in abstract ways over the years. Mostly it comes up as bikes that I’ve regretted giving up. There have been 2 or 3 over the years that I really regret. I have 1 now that I could argue has a soul. All were or are comfortable to ride, and just felt right. I’m currently building one up, that I hope has a soul. Only time will tell, once it’s been ridden for a bit.

The current one with a soul, and the 1 I miss most are steel framed bikes. They’re not really lightweight but they are awfully comfortable to ride. One that is an anomaly, IMO is another that I miss. It was a carbon fiber bike, one that I rode in my best racing season, so that may be more from nostalgia than anything.

I would almost argue that bikes with souls are generally steel, or titanium, although I could see an aluminum bike thrown in. I argue against carbon bikes having souls, mostly because of a “dead” feel so many have when ridden. That’s a hard feeling to describe, and one that almost has to be experienced to be understood. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had more carbon bikes than metallic ones. So I know that they ride nicely, are comfortable, and can fit you like a glove if built up to fit you.

Anyway, what prompted this was an article that I stumbled across on a cycling feed I get on FB. I just thought it was a fun article and enjoyed the thoughts it brought to mind.

Mine is an old, steel celeste bianchi, so, yeah, soul power.

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I read that article a few days ago and really liked it.

Surfers say that surfing had ‘soul’.

For me mountain biking definitely has soul. I love the solitary nature of it, just me and the trail, the trees, flowers, butterflies, dust, heat & cold. Riding at night can make a trail I’ve ridden hundreds of times seem new.

I’ve had bikes with a soul, for sure.

Yeah, one of those I really regret was my steel lugged Bianchi, with Thron tubing, made in their Reparto Corse area. It was my first really racing bike, and I upgraded everything on it, but the frame over 4 or 5 years. Sadly I sold it because we didn’t have space for lesser used bike, at the time. Wish I had kept that one.

My first real investment and legit road bike was Kestrel 200 SCi. Of all road bikes I’ve ridden that one had the best feel and I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to that dead feel (and would add as I’m sure you know the wheelset and rake and trail of the fork also have a big contributing factor to that).

That bike got stolen from my garage. The closest I’ve ever gotten back to that feel is an Orbea Opal - which the year I got it was the race frame for the pros but didn’t find favor among the populace because it was far more harsh than the Orca. Even race fit I was not a small guy by cycling standards (at 6’2" and 178lbs), so the give for me on that bike was just right.

I’ve had aluminum frames that were brutally harsh. I had a friend swear by his titanium Seven. I’ve only really ridden classic steel Colnagos with downtube shifters etc, so I can’t speak to a modern steel bike, although I’d love to try one.

I always regret selling a bike.

I had a sweet lugged steel hardtail mountain bike many years ago. I sold it to my brother and always regretted it. Eventually I got it back. When I owned it, the bike just felt perfect. In the ensuing years the geometry on bikes have changed so much that when I got it back and rode it around it honestly felt awful. I couldn’t imagine that I ever enjoyed riding it. That bike was an endo machine waiting to happen, compared to current MTBs. Still loved it though.

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We have Lemonds from over 10 years ago. Love the ride.
Yes, bikes have souls

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Custom built bike, built to your specs are amazing. The material isn’t too important if it fits properly. But I do love the way steel and Ti bikes ride and feel. I’m having a difficult time finding the words to describe the ride quality of a good metal frame.

Those classic steel Colnagos are very close to that Bianchi that I regret selling. Modern are a bit stiffer, and much lighter. The new alloys allow for even more customization, you can mix and match tube diameters and alloys to get that “just right” feel. Carbon does similar, but it’s harder to truly get on that’s built just to your specs. The molds are too expensive, or you have to do some creative wrapping and “cooking” of a carbon tube and lug. It’s extremely labor intensive, even more so than a custom steel, Ti, or even Al frames.

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The bike I remember was my Schwinn Stingray. It had a banana seat. I rode that bike all over Orem when I was young. It will always be a part of my soul because my dad bought me and my younger brother those stingrays instead of the Harley we was going to buy for himself.

When he walked out the door, my mom to the day she died said he was on his way to bring home a motorcycle for him. On his way to the motorcycle shop where he was going to buy the Harley, he had to pass the bicycle shop. It was then he felt our having bicycles was more important than having a motorcycle; so he did a U turn on State Street, went back to the bike shop, and came home with the bikes.

I miss my dad.

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Great memory of your Dad @Greginslc. That was a great bike. I had one too, converted it to a bmx style, because my friends all had bmx bikes.

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Bikes are just tools, though the work can be fun and the views great.

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