In last week’s installment, the prospect of yet another expensive repair to the Trusty Steed led me to think about retiring him – and my idle daydreams of a beautiful new bike took a step closer to becoming reality
Ah, the beautiful Norco Cityglide 8…so pretty and yet so practical. Could this be my bike of dreams?
There was only one thing for it. I had to take it for a test ride.
In my experience, there are two possible outcomes to a test ride. One is that I fall hopelessly in love, and can think of nothing else but how wonderful the bike is and what a difference it will make to my life – with the inevitable consequence that I cannot rest until I’ve bought it. The other is that a bike I’ve spent days drooling over turns out to be rather more prosaic than I’d been imagining, and my dreams are left in tatters.
On the one hand lies penury and on the other, disillusionment. Neither outcome is particularly desirable, which is why I don’t take many bikes out for test rides.
But this time was different. This time I had a reason for taking a bike out for a test ride. It didn’t matter if I fell in love – in fact, that was the whole point of the exercise.
The plan was to try out a few different bikes – after all, if the Cityglide turned out not to be the bike of my dreams, I needed a plan B. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. The day of my test ride dawned soggily, and got progressively wetter as the hours passed. By mid-afternoon, when I’d finally talked myself into going out, the rain had settled into a steady, unrelenting downpour. Consequently I only managed to take two bikes out – the result of my own reluctance to get any wetter than was strictly necessary, combined with an unhelpful sales assistant, who seemed to be more concerned about having to clean the bikes I was taking out than with helping me to find the right one.
First up was the Cityglide. As the sales assistant wheeled it out, I felt a pang of disappointment. The website had described it as ‘light brown’, but in reality it was more of a salmon pink. This wasn’t quite the beautiful bike I’d been dreaming about – it was entirely the wrong colour.
Swallowing the urge to tell the sales assistant that I’d changed my mind, I told myself to stop being so superficial. The least I could do was try it out. After all, if it turned out to ride well I could always paint it a different colour.
It actually rode surprisingly well, once I’d got used to it. It’s a different shape from other bikes I’ve ridden, and the riding position is much more upright. It was a little unnerving at first, and I wobbled rather alarmingly until I was able to settle into the position. I also had a few difficulties with the gear shifters; instead of the gear levers I’m familiar with, the Cityglide has a twist shifter. I kept twisting it the wrong way – going up a gear rather than down – or completely forgetting that was how I changed gear.
These were all problems I knew time would fix, so I took the Cityglide for as long a ride as I dared, in the hope I would have started to adjust to it before I had to take it back. It’s a much lighter bike than I’d expected and that, combined with the range of gears, meant I was able to get up to a reasonable speed on it. I even took it up Haverstock Hill to see how it handled hills – both going up and down – before returning it to the shop.
The next bike I tried out was a Specialized Vita. I’ve had three Specialized bikes now, so I wasn’t expecting any surprises with this one. There weren’t any – it was like riding the Trusty Steed, but with smoother gear changes and tighter brakes.
So which did I go for? The familiar and predictable Specialized, or the exotic and beautiful – albeit pink – Cityglide?
Whichever bike I chose would have to be my only bike – my go-anywhere, all-seasons, carry-everything bike. I don’t have enough space in my flat for more than one bike (unless I can get a key to the bike shed). When I thought about it like that, the decision was simple. As lovely as the Cityglide was, I couldn’t see it being anything more than an occasional bike. I couldn’t see myself riding it to work and back, every day, in all weathers, nor could I see myself going for a long ride out into the countryside on it.
So I chose the Specialized. I’ve only had her for a little over a week, but already I know it was the right choice. She even has a name – Eva.
As for the Trusty Steed, I couldn’t face the thought of abandoning him after his years of loyal service. I figured no one would want to buy such an old and knackered bike, so I’m putting him out to pasture instead. He’ll spend his retirement at my parents’ house up in Sheffield, where I’ll be able to visit him and take him out for occasional rides.