Pedal Power

by Brad Nelson   8/5/14

You’re looking at the newest member of the family, the Fuji Nevada 29 1.7. It was sort of a belated birthday present to myself…with the infusion of a little cash from a family member.

But not much cash. This is by no means a top-of-the-line bike or even middle-of-the-road one. But it is above rock-bottom. As I discovered, you can’t walk into a bike shop these days without expecting to pay at least $500.00. Most bikes are in the $800+ range. And it’s common now to see bikes on the showroom floor that top $2500.00. This is more than you can pay for a very good used car.

My guess is that — aside from competition racing and freestyle concerns — most people pay a premium for a bike for the prestige factor. My guess is that my $550.00 bought me 80% of what you get on a $1500.00 for 35% of the price. Do you really need hydraulic disc (as opposed to mechanical disc) brakes? You might, if you are racing, doing hardcore freestyle, and/or doing any of that in the rain.

I think what the extra money generally gives you is lighter-weight components (and perhaps a slightly lighter frame as well). Yes, the components (brakes, derailleurs, wheels, fork, etc.) are going to be better on the more expensive bikes, and theoretically last longer. But they’re also going to be more expensive to replace and repair.

But my guess is that, most of all, the high-priced bikes give you bragging rights. It’s another battle in the “who’s got the bigger penis” wars.

My previous bike, a Target Schwinn special, had over 1500 hard mountain miles on it and was showing its age. The derailleurs had become fussy and I had bent it so many times that metal fatigue was becoming a factor. It was a good and very rugged bike, and it will find a home with Goodwill soon and hopefully another appreciative rider. But it was showing its age and it was more than past time to upgrade.

The major change in mountain bikes since the last time I shopped is movement to the 29″ wheel, up from the 26″, although there is a fairly newfangled 27.5″ wheel that is starting to become popular. The bigger wheel runs better over obstacles, and it really burns up the pavement if you want to take it on the road.

The disc brakes are nice, but my center-pull calipers on the Schwinn were certainly good enough. But these newfangled lever-based Shimano derailleurs on the new Fuji work rather well, although they took a little getting used to. This model also has a fork “lock-out” mechanism the locks the front shock for riding on payment or when going up extended hills (so that less of your pedal motion goes into any dampening effect of the front shock, although I could notice no difference in testing).

All in all, I think I got pretty good bang for my buck. And I was able to get this from a bike shop that is very close by which will make support and maintenance a breeze. I’d never heard of Fuji bikes before. I thought they just made film and cameras, assuming this is the same Fuji company. But I was told that they’ve been making bikes for decades.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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18 Responses to Pedal Power

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    As I recall, the last (and probably only) bike I ever had is the one I used to ride to the library at Fort Campbell until the pedals broke down one day on the way home. Now I doubt my rather large rump would fit on many bike seats with any comfort.

    Elizabeth got a used bike some years ago (probably at a yard sale) but has never tried to get it into working shape. Given that she usually carries a cane to walk today, I have my doubts that she ever will.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Mr. Lane, we’re going to gang up on you and get you on a weight-loss program because we want your wisdom shared here for a long long time. Biking is a very fun way to do that…in conjunction with Mr. Kung’s magic elixir.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        No way that magic elixir will ever beat cheese crisps (i.e, tortillas covered with shredded cheese and then toasted) or potato chips or sandwiches. And I weight a LOT less than I did when I went to the ER back in January 2012 and lost about 55 pounds (just about all of it excess fluid) in 10 days.

        Cycling might be another matter; we used to walk and still hope to resume that, but Elizabeth’s speed makes that somewhat problematic. (And I discovered when I had to take the bus to my clinic visit last week that my own ability to walk remains limited due to cumulative leg/knee strains. It took me about 3 times to traverse our block on the way home as it did on the way out.)

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Mr. Kung’s magic elixir.

        It is still working for me. I have lost some further pounds after laying off for a few weeks.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I weighed myself just now and I’m at 192. That’s down from 195, so I’m still working it. If I go out hiking today on my “speed climb” I could lose a couple pounds of water and maybe hit 190 (even 189). We’ll see. It’s expected to get in the upper seventies today, so it’s not going to be all that warm.

          • Pokey Possum says:

            Gee Brad, it might be time for you to post a new picture!

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              You may do the honors next time you stop by. I’m afraid I would feel foolish doing a “selfie” given all the recent headlines of Obama and his foolishness.

              • Pokey Possum says:

                I’d be happy to. I’ll be out of town for a couple of weeks, so you will be in the 180’s by the time I make it by. I’m happy for you and your new ride!

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    I really must get back on the bike, since my days of running are distant memories. I hope this serves you well.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I would think California would be an awesome place for bike riding. Washington is nice as well, but it’s awfully hilly…unless one is looking for that, as I often am.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I’d never heard of Fuji bikes before. I thought they just made film and cameras, assuming this is the same Fuji company. But I was told that they’ve been making bikes for decades.

    There are many many companies named Fuji this, that or the other in Japan. Not all belong to the large group.

    This company belongs to an American company now.

    From the looks of the bick, you must be going 10 mph just standing still.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      From the looks of the bick, you must be going 10 mph just standing still.

      And with that relatively huge 29″ wheel, have I regressed to The Big Wheel?

      Actually, that extra 3″ in diameter (which is not all that much different from the typical 26″ tire size) does make a difference in terms of what you can roll over out on the trail. And the larger sizes eats up regular paved roads as well. No, it’s no match for a true touring bike (what us old-timers used to refer to as a “10 speed”). But it does have the commuter aspect to it, although the bicycle manufacturers have created an entire category of bike just for that. It’s sorta goes off-road well and sort does on-road well. I think they call these “hybrid bicycles.”

      Basically the more upright the posture the more, I guess, it is meant for casual riding. There’s also the “comfort bike” category as well that fits that description. But the fact of the matter is that you can likely turn almost any bike into any other with a change of accessories, at least to some extent. There are handlebar extenders if you want a more upright position. You could (if the frame works for them) buy different size tires. In fact, what is typical to find is that the different “brands” of bikes have as their primary difference a different frame. But on this frame are bolted the typical components (Suntour for the fork, Shimano for the derailleurs, etc.)

      The main thing is to know that, unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket, the $1500-$2500 bike is just overkill. Or maybe I had the Depression-era gene passed onto me where I just can’t see spending a grand for a friggin’ bicycle.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Fuji, of course, is probably the most famous mountain in Japan. (It’s often given as Fujiyama, but yama simply means mountain.) Elizabeth once did a painting of Mount Fuji seen through wisteria because a different form of fuji (a homophone of the mountain name) means wisteria.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Elizabeth once did a painting of Mount Fuji seen through wisteria because a different form of fuji (a homophone of the mountain name) means wisteria.

        The Japanese are very fond of such word play with homophones.

  4. Misanthropette says:

    Brad, I must have been alerted by the Bike Gods to visit this site! I love it! Bicycling and politics are my passions. One is a sick disease, the other will drive you insane. 😉

    Congratulations on your new bike! Fuji makes wonderful bikes as well as cameras like Shimano makes bike components and fishing gear! May you have many happy memories riding it.

    As a 20+ year bike addict, I have managed to whittle down the collection to 2 bikes: a beautiful, classic Italian steel road bike and a tricked-out supa fast, killa cross-country racing bike. It is possible to simply appreciate bikes as functional art. Take a look at Rivendell bicycles website or Pegoretti and tell me those frames aren’t “art”.

    I do not believe it is possible to own enough bikes, given the various disciplines within the sport. My next purchase will be a Cyclocross bike for riding the various rails to trails around the country. If you have never ridden a high end beautiful bike, most bike shops have “dealer days” and bring in a truck loaded with demo bikes for patrons to try. A very good mountain bike as opposed to a very good road bike is designed and built to address very technical terrain, i.e., downhill racing vs. cross country. In other words, the “right” bike makes riding more fun! You wouldn’t enter a Percheron in the Kentucky Derby, would you?

    I don’t know where you ride, but Schaeffer Farms in Poolesville, MD is a great place to mountain bike along with Patapsco, Greenbriar State Park and the Frederick Watershed. There is a killer half-pipe at Schaeffer worth attempting at because it’s like riding a rollercoaster, and the object is to get big air…fun! This requires skill which is achieved faster with a bike designed for that riding. The rest of the park is a cross-country racer’s (or just rider’s) delight!


    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      So far so good on the new Fuji 29 incher, Misanthropette. I took it out last weekend and did about 40+ miles in the sticks. It held up nicely. I really like these new Shimano shifters. The Schwinn I had (still have…trying to get rid of it on Craig’s List) had shifters integrated with the grip. You’d twist the hand grip to shift. This actually worked fairly well. There are plusses and minuses to both systems.

      Glad to run into another bike addict. I bought the Schwinn about five years ago. I didn’t buy anything expensive because I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. But I got the itch (after a few years of dispensing with biking) to ride again. And now I’m doing so regularly enough where I needed and wanted a better bike.

      Yes, bikes indeed can be artful. Those are some interesting frames from the second link you provided. Most unusual…and pleasing. The “Hunqapiller”…gotta love it. And the “Atlantis” has a place for 3 water bottles. My frame has a place for two hook-on accessories, but the second one isn’t tall enough for a regular water bottle. But I’d love to have a second water bottle attachment. I’m looking currently to see if I can find a sort of “snub” or shorter water bottle that will work.

      There does seem to be a bike made for every purpose. My Fuji 29 incher is by no means a touring bike, proper, but it does do well on the pavement, especially considering it has a fork you can lock so that you don’t lose energy with that front dampener, although it’s difficult to tell the difference, on or off. And this thing has no problem on the rough trails. But, mind you, I’m not going down these rugged bike paths at breakneck speed, nor am I taking the jumps. Prudence is the watchword, especially because I ride alone.

      No doubt a $2500+ bike would feel better than the $500+ one I have now. But I’m not particularly fussy. The only “big air” I intend to get is the air that clears my head. 🙂 But kudos to those who bike a little more aggressively than I do. I’m more of an endurance rider.

      All of my riding so far has been in the Northwest, and fairly close to home. A guy at the bike shop told me about a new place in Jefferson Country on this peninsula right across the Hood Canal Bridge. There are miles and miles of logging roads. I did about 24 of the total 40+ miles last weekend scouting this site. It’s an okay place, but a little desolate, but occasionally you get views of the mountains and of Hood Canal. But it’s mostly been forested recently and is a bit of a scrubland in places. It’s land owned by a timber company that allows bike riders.

      There are a lot of trails popping up around the Northwest, many of which I simply need to discover. The benefit of one that are close by is that I can spend most of my day cycling rather than driving to the site.

      • Misanthropette says:

        I caught the bike bug in the Pacific NW. There’s great riding out there – I am sooooo jealous! Bike people are the best.

        One suggestion: Camelback hydration systems are worth the splurge. You can usually get them on sale at the end of the season in November or put one on your Christmas list.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Yes, I’ve heard of the Camelback thingie. I’ll perhaps check that out. Thanks for the tip.

          And NW bicycling is groovy…if you don’t mind a few hills!

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