This is the Perfect Bicycle

slamthatstem posted this bike a few days ago. Upon seeing it I went off about how wonderful and perfect and correct (RIP Tati) this bike is.

This bike is owned by @ic.smith22. I don’t know the full story of where this bike came from, though looking through his Instagram you can see that he rode this for a while in it’s original – the year 2002 – state. I haven’t gone through his Instagram much prior to writing this because I do not want to destroy the narrative around this bike that I have created in my mind.

Like reading a poem or piece of fiction, you don’t necessarily know exactly what the author intended. What you take out of the piece is influenced strongly by what you bring into it. So everyone will have a different reading of the same collection of words.

Alright. It is currently 2018. Just for context of the world in which this frame was built (and it can be seen on page 37 of this catalog). It was released alongside this machine:

Which is 26″ full-suspension city bike, with v-brakes, HeadShock Headshok, factory fenders, rear panniers, a triple and a front light? Well okay.

Cannondale’s 2002 line up also included a road bike with front suspension (Headshok, natch), a mere 15 years before the gravel boom:

I could spend an absurd amount of time writing about this catalog itself.

This bike was born into a world of HeadShocks and triples. It watched it’s compatriots die off or be turned into weird single speeds. It saw the change to 10 and 11 speed, electronic shifting, wireless shifting. The rise of cheap power meters, tubeless clinchers, road disc, C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

Anyway. This R900 is perfect because it correctly applies upgrades where they are most effective, upon a skeleton that needs little improvement.

From a racing standpoint, your best investment is in good wheels (idk I’m sure I read that somewhere, fuck you, this is my website, I’ll say what I want). CHECK. Baller tubulars. Aero. Light. Tubulars. Gumwalls. Might explode if he hits a curb, who knows, but he’ll be going fast as hell until then.

Then there’s the crank upgrade. Would have been perfect+ if it was 105…but Ultegra is good enough. Would not have been perfect if it was Dura-Ace. No way. Ideally we’ll see this crank with off-color replacement 105-level rings next year. Because mismatching is #zef.

Which, obviously, brings us to the shifters and drivetrain in general. Because ooooooh hell yes. Nine speed rear derailleur. Appears to be a 105 right shifter and rear mech…which may very well be the original parts. Holy crap. The left shifter looks like modern 6800 R8000 (to match the crank), and from this angle (and from my logic) there is probably a reach difference that is throwing off his shoulders. But it’s fine, with the money he saved by not buying a new rear derailleur he can go to a chiropractor.

And these shifters are bolted to a 3T stem that is GLORIOUSLY SLAMMED.

IT IS PERFECTLY SLAMMED.

Oh and there’s a new fork (probably because the old one disintegrated because it was sixteen years old and made with 2002 technology carbon technology) and 6800 brakes because 2002 105 brakes felt like ass (which I can infer because I had 2002 Dura-Ace brakes and they sucked compared to modern ones).

This is all built upon a frame that technically Mario Cipollini sprinted on. Maybe he had some fancier one with bigger tubing – but this is aluminum, after all, so there wasn’t some specific fiber layup because it is a made from a pile of metal from Alcoa. And if it’s good enough for Cipo, it is good enough for you.

I love this bike. It says to me that the person racing it is not hung up on having the newest shit. They know that it’s a lot cheaper to save weight by not drinking beer than buying fancy gear. And I’m going to guess that they spend the winter training outside (but I am totally projecting my cycling ideal upon this person here, maybe they are in love with Zwift and hate having their toes freeze).

Anyway, solid taste all around with this bike. Best of luck racing it, and enjoy the cost savings of buying nine speed chains.

One thought on “This is the Perfect Bicycle”

  1. I hope this guy gets to read this. I wish you had reposted the pic of it every time you had a paragraph break.
    I love your voice in this 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽

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