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Gear is the word

A gear head is not something I’d ever, previously, refer to myself as, but over the past few months I find myself boring each and every one of my friends with descriptions of wheels (tires, rims, spokes and hubs), GPS units, and saddles to name a few of the categories I can drone on endlessly about. I have lurked on and queried online touring lists such as www.bikeforums.net (the touring list) and www.phred.org/mailman/listinfo/touring. And now know enough to know what I want and more than enough to make me dangerous.

I am officially a gear head neophyte, but a neophyte I’m happy to stay. Creating a new bike is a little bit different from using a package bike or even packaged parts. For instance, my dear old Schwinn High Sierra is still running fine and has been tweaked only a little – skinny tires to accommodate the road riding I do these days, but that’s about all. It’s gone on single-track trails, down steps, up 9W, ice cycling all without the least bit of interference from me. But now it’s been ten years since I though about gear ratios, rim holes (that sounds nasty – huh?), and the perfect tire and frankly after this bike is all put together this newly gained knowledge will fly right out of my head. That is if the combinations work. If they don’t work, then I’m in for some experimentation.

Bikes are very personal items and what works for one person may not work for another. Research is the precursor to purchasing and with research you run into a lot of opinions and rating systems (www.mtbr.com/reviews/). In my opinion, rating systems don’t really help – the “this kicks ass” and “this sucks shit” people cancel each other out and then you are left with the people like me who haven’t had much problems so don’t give it much thought. The way around this is to read the pros and cons comments – that’s where the real dirt comes out. Then you’re back on the bumpy ride of opinions rather than a pseudo scientific glissade of ratings and it’s up to you to look for the trends and begin to form opinions based on what YOU need. It boils down to a personal decision based on price, functionality, fit, and sometimes the strength of the return policy (than you Team Estrogen!!!).

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