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Bikefag Broke-Ass Buyers Guide for Road Bikes

June 15, 2009

In the past few days, the Bikefag moved back to an undisclosed Colorado Front Range town, got a job (barista), and saw his blog readership increase 4,500% (thanks BSNYC). Between the coffee shop tip jar and the inevitable revenue generated by misguided Google ads for gay dating sites and Gillette Venus lady’s razor blades, the Bikefag will soon be stacking paper to the ceiling and making it rain on them ho’s.

But it isn’t time to order a Serotta yet! We’re in a global financial crisis! These are trying times for American families and hipster road bikers.

Also, Serottas are old/rich/tall-people bikes.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: maximizing the coolness per dollar (CPD) of your hipster road bike is now more important than ever.

Accordingly, I’ve compiled a comprehensive Bikefag Broke-Ass Buyers Guide to Road Bikes!


The BFBABG4RB, as always, analyzes bikes based on the only two relevant criteria to any bikefag: “coolness” and “dollars.” “Coolness” is rated on a scale of 1-1000. That subjective rating is then divided by the price of the bike. This gives you the bike’s CPD.

The Bikefag recommends only riding bikes with a CPD of 1 or over.  Unfortunately, practically every roadie on earth is riding a bike with a CPD of well under 1 right now!  This must be stopped.  Here’s how:

BFBABG4RB Tip #1: Buy your road bike used!

Sorry, shop owners, but I ain’t no crab blogger.  I know that you need people to buy your shiny, $4,000, 90% profit-margin road bikes so’s y’all can stay in business.

That is why the bike gods provided us with rich idiots.  So shops can stay in business and bikefags have someone to be faster than.

But you, Bikefag, need to think about your CPD.  So unless you have a friend at a shop who can hook you up with a Specialized SL2 at cost (which still only gives you a CPD of .25 tops), you’re going to want to take a trip with me to

Craigslist.  Ah.  The best thing to happen to Bikefags since ebay.

If you live in a big city, you can get or sell anything on Craigslist that you can think of.  If you live in a small town and have some patience, you will get impossible deals.  And if you live anywhere near Boulder, CO (where dumpsters brim over with last year’s top-level bikes, and Ultegra is forbidden!), you can simply choose your model and size of Serotta, type it into Craigslist’s search engine, and drive your Prius/Subaru Outback/dream powered Land Rover to a slightly richer person’s house and pick it up.

I’m not going to talk about Craigslist any more.  If you’re reading this, you’re an internet nerd and you’ve already checked every Craigslist in your state twice today.

BFBABG4RB Tip #2: Dura Ace 7700

I know this sounds counterintuitive.  The newest, flossiest groupsets ought to be the coolest, right?  And if not that, then surely the oldest, NOSest groups with downtube shifters and non-aero brake levers must be the coolest, right?


We’re assessing the coolness per dollar here.  Do you know how much Campy 11-speed costs?  Do you know how poorly DA 10-speed shifts after a couple months?

Don’t do it.

I’ve worked with physicists, mathematicians, engineers, and trend-setting bloggers.  I’ve developed formula after formula.  And all my research points to one conclusion:

Get a bike with 9-speed Dura Ace 7700.


This will be the first statement I make that will generate controversy.  That’s ok.  9-speed Dura Ace rules.

Sure there are other hassle-free groups.

All Campy groups come to mind.  But Dura Ace has higher coolness.  Campy 9-speed and non-carbon Campy 10-speed groups work just fine, but they’re ugly and thus lower your bike’s coolness.  Campy Record 10 Carbon and 11 speed groups look good, but have astronomical prices (poor CPD).  Sorry Campy.

SRAM 10-speed groups are reported to function much better than DA 10-speed groups.  But SRAM destroyed it’s CPD potential by releasing Red.  Coolness is rated on a scale.  And Red was so cool that it ruined the curve.  Rival seemed cool enough three years ago, but now it’s as dorky as 105.  Despite the fact that Rival is a great groupset, a Rival-equipped bike cannot attain a coolness rating over 650.  And a Red bike, of course, costs too much.

On to modern Dura Ace now.  Immediately the cost presents its self.  DA bikes are expensive.  But the real problem is that DA 10 speed is a gigantic pain in the ass.

Once in awhile bikefags are forced to make concessions and “bend the rules.”  I understand that in a perfect world, “coolness” and “dollars” would be the only bikefag considerations.  I’d love to live in a utopian society where I can be completely blind to functionality and be guided by only my bikefag principles.  But in the case of DA 10 speed I have to make an exception.  DA 10 speed has problems.

Bikefag Chief Technical Correspondent and Collegiate Cycling Track National Champion Dan Lionberg claims that the 2:1 shifting actuation ratio makes Shimano 10-speed drivetrains finicky.  I believe that the shifting problems arise because Shimano is “played out.”

Either way, get Shimano Dura Ace 9 speed.  The time you lose digging unsuccessfully for a 9 speed wheel in your local criterium’s wheelpit will be more than made up for by the time you save being able to shift in the next race (please don’t nail me to the stake, Shimano.  It’s a comedy blog..).

As for downtube shifting, NOS, 7-speed drivetrains:  well, we might want to leave them to this guy..


BFBABG4RB Tip #3: Get the most obscure bike you can find.

Obscurity can cost money.  But in my experience, it is a better deal CPD-wise than getting a plain-ol’ bike with the same groupset.  In America, get European bikes.  In Europe, get Japanese bikes.  In Japan, uh.. well, still get Japanese bikes probably.

Get a bike with anodozed, defunct Mavic wheels.  Get a bike with some sort of pedigree or story attached (eg?).  Get a boring but functional bike, take it apart, and get a custom paint job for $75 at Coating Specialties in Windsor, CO.

BFBABG4RB Tip #4: When in doubt, get a lugged-steel frame and a Giant TCR and build them into one cool bike (then sell the Giant frameset on ebay)

Older, 126mm-spaced steel bikes can easily be pulled apart to 130 and built however the hell you want.  You’ll just need ot think about the headset, stem, seatpost and front derailleur.  Other than that, there’s nothing stopping you from turning a good looking, older frame into a good-being modern bike.

Sure, the TCR is probably a better frame in most respects, but the bikefag’s criteria are clear: coolness and price.  And while a Giant TCR is probably a good deal, it ain’t cool.

These are all of my recommendations.  More advanced “CPD-sandbagging” techniques such as “lying,” “painting your SRAM Rival components red” and “stealing” are best discussed in forums.

Let’s see how this all works with some

Real-life examples:

Serotta Hors Categorie Ti on Boulder’s Craigslist


Not bad.  It’s got unnecessarily rediculous seat stays (extra points), a Chris King headset, fancy Campagnolo wheels, Michelin Pro Race 2s – the best clinchers in history, and an unnecessarily-angled saddle.  Oh, and it’s titanium (additional coolness points in 1999, lowered coolness in 2009).  It has some sort of Campy carbon crankset.  Unfortunately, though, bikefags have only ever heard of Campy Record.  Chorus?  Centaur?  Is that good?  We don’t know.  And it goes without saying that Serottas are old man bikes, so even the perfect Serotta could only have a maximum coolness of 800.

Price: $1400

Coolness: 700

CPD: .5

Moving down Boulder’s Craigslist:

Serotta Atlanta from Boulder’s Craigslist


Even though this bike is obviously not as good a value as the last Serotta, it IS cooler.  This Serotta has a bitchin blue “colorway.”  It is fully equipped Dura Ace 7700, the highest-CPD gruppo ever.  It’s made of steel.  And it’s cheaper.

Price: $1,200

Coolness: 720

CPD: .60

It’s probably becoming obvious to the mathematician readers that CPD is biased in favor of people who buy bikes that cost less that $1,000.  But them’s the rules.

Let’s see if we can find a better candidate for the elusive >1CPD

My 1989 Eisentraut Rainbow Traut with Dura Ace 7700

Eisentraut front-side

Wow!  What a pretentious ride!  It’s a 126-spaced, custom, lugged-steel frame with candy paint and built by one of the most prestigious frame builders in American history!  Then it was pulled to 130mm (by hand, every time I put my back wheel on) and upgraded to Dura Ace 7700, but leaving the old DA 7400 downtube front shifter and brake lever as a testament to its age!

The great thing about a strange bike like this is that it’s too weird to sell for top dollar.  Also, the guy who I bought it from had a tubular wheel set with a nonfunctional 7 speed cassette (presumably he was keeping his good wheelset with a cassette that actually worked..).  All the better for me, though, because I got this bike for $800 as a result of it’s ramshackle-tude.

I bought a used wheelset and an Ultegra (shhhh.  don’t tell anyone.) cassette and here’s the result.  One of the baddest-ass bikes that $930 can buy.

Check out this candy paint!


Unfortunately for me, my candy paint is chipping very badly, and I don’t have the proper Eisentraut decals.

Price: $930

Coolness: 830

CPD: .89

Der Eisentraut still doesn’t make it in over 1CPD.

Oh well.  I’ll just be sulking silently in the corner.  Meanwhile, let’s see if we can break 1CPD.

Somewhat ghetto, but totally badass-looking Cannondale 3.0 from ebay


This bike has a lot of things going for it: it’s a Cannondale 3.0 and thus totally badass looking.  It’s blue.  It has an impossibly steep head tube angle.  And its bizarre parts assortment and ebay seller who has no understanding of punctuation of capitalization has kept the cost down to $200!

Price: $200

Coolness: 600

CPD: 3.0!

Incredible!  And probably unbeatable.  But just for kicks, let’s try out:

Professional cyclist Sheldon Deeny‘s Pinarello Prince with Campagnolo 11 Speed


You’ve seen the pictures.  You’ve read the copy.  This is the Pinarello Prince.

Bikefags, Deep Vs, Roadies, “old man” cyclists, and certain sustainabilibros all drop their jaws in unison when they see this bike.

Extra points for Sheldon having his name written on it.

Other than the fact that it has only cheapskate Campagnolo Record 11, not Super Record 11, this bike is about as close as a modern, production bike gets to a perfect coolness rating.


And of course Sheldon’s a pro cyclist, so the bike was free.

Price $0

CPD: Infinity

Sometimes it seems that the most counterintuitive measures reap the highest CPDs.  Sheldon shaves his legs, is a “mainstream cyclist” and rides an obnoxiously expensive bike.  Yet his CPD is beyond numeric value.

I guess it pays to train, bikefags.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. marcj permalink
    June 15, 2009 4:13 pm

    Um, I mean, great post!

  2. June 15, 2009 5:00 pm

    Training is for suckers, I don’t care if it does allow for an unquantifiable CPD. After all, there is beer to be consumed and television to be watched.

    I’m living proof that riding three days a week yields stellar results. How else can you explain such killer race standings as 20th and 13th respectively in last weekends illustrious Ontario GP 4/5 and 4/5 30+ races. Believe it.

    Which way to that Tour de France thing?

    Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got some fagging-off to attend to.

  3. tzed permalink
    June 16, 2009 11:59 pm

    Although I am awaiting translation on a large portion of this post (I am/was a mountain biker (gasp) and although I am familiar with Shimano and SRAM, I know nothing of this Campagnolo of which you speak, and certainly know nothing about any of these ‘gruppos’) I must say I am excitied at the prospect of buying a bike off Craigslist, building it up with these gears and things you talk about and pedaling it around the city of Providence.
    I don’t suppose the Schwinn World Tour with Shimano’s FF drivetrain I got for free on trash day has a CPD > 0

  4. boners permalink
    June 18, 2009 10:31 pm

    the first serotta loses points because after all that the owner still has no idea how to set up seat and handlebar angles. i’d rather ride a schwinn varsity than that bike set up that way.

    the second serotta has an ugly carbon fork, but fastback stays which are cool because they say “i’ve heard of cinelli.”

    dig the eisentraut, still hate the carbon fork, but love the stem. nice lance armstrong shifting setup (LA is the ULTIMATE un-hipster and un-cool, even if he deigned to ride the giro this year).

    the cannondale’s okay, but those shifter “braze-ons” get loose over time. plus, the owner crashed the shit out of it. if it was because they were pulling a sandwich from their molteni musette bag, fine, but my money’s on clipless pedal error.

    the pinarello is a big yawn. way to rip off hetchins (stays) and bates (fork) at the same time, but make it 1,000,000,000 times uglier.

    to my mind, campy makes better shifters and shimano makes more affordable and versatile drivetrain. the jtek shiftmate is your answer ( and anyone who isn’t using a (old) super record or equally old front derailleur has been pistol-whipped by group-set hype.

    ideal hipster road bike setup:
    reynolds 531 or columbus SL (bonus for frame decals in other languages)
    silver chorus shifters
    dura-ace drivetrain
    TA crankset
    old super record/huret jubilee/suntour cyclone front derailleur
    mavic gl 330 tubular rims
    nuovo/super record or superbe pro brakeset (fuck dual pivots)

    • bikefag permalink*
      June 19, 2009 5:05 am

      Wow, I wish I’d have known about the Jtek shiftmate back before I just sort of got used to Shimano shifters. Maybe if my DA shifter ever breaks or I’m ever not completely dirt-poor-with-$340-of-parts-to-buy-just-to-get-all-my-bikes-running I’ll try it out. For now though, as always, I have to buy enough tires and brake pads and new fork, etc. to keep everything rolling.

      As for the Shimano drivetrain to old FD, I’m a little too superstitious for that/wouldn’t a 9 or 10-speed chain not work with an old FD?

      Also, I like Dual pivot brakes (although I ride DA 7400 single pivots and don’t feel too compelled to blow my tire budget on a pair of 7700 or (I hear they rule) 7800s).

      And one day I will ride an all-Superbe Pro bike! But I’ll have to find it at somebody’s garage sale if I’m gonna keep the CPD high on it..

      Thanks fer reading

      • bikefag permalink*
        June 19, 2009 5:07 am

        Also, did you hear Columbus started making SL again? Actually their website is pretty fun to nerd out about.

      • boners permalink
        June 19, 2009 5:23 am

        yeah, full superbe pro would be rad, but aside from full mavic the full blue-anodized galli group really is the holy grail of bike snobbery. at the same time, full zeus…

        i don’t have much problems with the old super record front derailleur, but with campy shifters there is the manual trim option you don’t get with shimano. my setup on my ’87 raleigh team pro is chorus shifters (10 speed), ultegra drivetrain (9 speed! they make a shiftmate for that combo too) and hubs, ritchey cranks, SR front derailleur and seatpost, same old crmo stem as your eisentraut, centaur dual pivots. i just mostly like being a sidepull partisan, since they let you use a wide tire, whereas dual pivots crowd your shit and don’t react well if your wheel goes out of true. also a dual pivot on a non-machined rim (like the venerable ma-2) feels like a vibrator with low batteries. not that i would know…

  5. Sheldon permalink
    June 19, 2009 2:47 pm

    Here come grandaddy alway classin ain’t no bikefag badda than that
    they know i’m gangsta 24 on my black eisentraut
    And as a matter of fact, flipped it and dipped it in some candy paint
    suckas get mad cause they cain’t

  6. June 25, 2009 10:51 pm

    do you know anyone who owns a bike shop? i do. they do NOT make huge profits on road/mountain/tandem/etc bikes. in fact, they make more selling used bikes that were trade-ins. most of the profits come from selling accessories to jerks that can’t fix a flat.

    just because you’re a bikefag is no reason to be an asshole.

    • bikefag permalink*
      June 26, 2009 1:22 am

      Thank you, Robyn. I will take your comment under consideration. I will also consider looking into a job writing advertising copy.

  7. June 25, 2009 10:57 pm

    btw, i ride a 1994 cannondale V900 mountain bike (33 lbs, cost $200 for upgraded shifters and pedals), a 2008 cannondale feminine six13 (18 lbs, cost 5 hours advertising copy work) and am awaiting delivery of a 2009 cannondale quick i won in ROAD magazine’s essay contest (cost 3 hours writing and editing) i think that gives each of my bikes a coolness factor of infinity.

  8. D. Raillieur permalink
    August 4, 2009 2:41 am

    You don’t get a ‘coolness factor’ if you work in a bike shop. You only get it by having a real job like an NYC messenger..yeah!
    Also fag, consider Suntour SL or Sprint instead of Superbe Pro. Next level down and cost half as much. Can’t beat 80’s NOS stuff.

  9. dZa permalink
    October 15, 2009 8:26 am

    congrats on your Hampsten inspired road machine! justlearned he rocked the brifter w/ the front downtube shifter. hmmm… ideas for my next project…


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