It’s All About the Bike

It’s July, so that means there will be lots of cycling at the Cornelius estate. These days there is much less time spent on the saddle and much more time spent on the couch, watching the Tour de France.

To get ready for the race, I just finished reading It’s All About the Bike by Robert Penn. The title is a clear stab at Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike. But the book is not making a counter-argument, it’s merely a story about Penn’s bike. He was looking to build a custom-made bicycle and, through that process, provide some insight about bicycles, their history, and how they’re made.

Penn is not looking to have the lightest or the fastest bike. He calls those obsessed riders “weight weenies.” The lightest bike is important if your job is getting up a big mountain very fast. Penn is looking for an heirloom bike, custom for him, that will last for decades.

The starting point is a custom frame, meticulously measured and fit to him by Brian Rourke Cycles. Add on a classic drivetrain, a Record groupset from Camagnolo. That powers the wheels hand-built by Gravy using a Royce hub and Continental Grand Prix 4000S tires. Penn will change directions using  Cinelli Ram handlebar attached to the bike with a headseat by Chris King that feeds into a Columbus Carve fork. His backside will rest on the Team Pro Saddle from Brooks.

The Bike

Penn clearly ends up with a beautiful bike and tells a good story along the way. His affection for cycling overflows from the rather short story. I wish he wrote more in the book. It seems that there are lots of untold stories about how he chose the components he did and more ways he could integrate the history of cycling.

If you like bikes, you’ll like this book.

(The publisher provided me a copy of this book to review.)

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