I’ve been riding my Specialized Langster into work and back all week and I am just in love with the ride. It’s so much fun to ride a track bike in the city and it’s an easy way to travel 50km under my own steam without feeling like it is a pain. Being a rest day from running, I thought I would pen a couple of lines about why this bike is so much fun.
1. It’s responsive. Unlike a regular freewheel bike, this thing is totally responsive. You pedal faster, it goes faster. You pedal slower, it goes slower. You put a little weight on the upstroke and you slow down, a little force on the downstroke and you speed up. What’s more, the aggressive geometry of the frame means that weaving through traffic is a breeze – I only have to watch out for a little overlap between my shoe and the front wheel if I am taking a really tight corner.
2. It’s smooth. A track bike is a breeze to take care of because there are very few moving parts. After a rain storm on Thursday afternoon saw me and the Langster return home soaked and a little dirty, it took only a few minutes for me and Jamie to clean the bike up again. With an oiled chain, that single gear, and tires pumped to about 8 atmospheres, it’s a really smooth ride.
3. It’s comfortable. On a regular road bike you need to keep your hands somewhere near the brakes and the shifters. Modern bikes with the combination shifters/brakes on the hoods mean that you spend a lot of time on the hoods or in the drops. The Langster? I spend most of my time on the flats of the bars. It’s comfortable, easy on the back, and as your butt is doing most of the steering, you feel a lot better than having to ride the hoods ‘just incase’ you want to shift down or brake.
4. It’s fast. I mean, I am not breaking records here but it is faster than the Velov I have been using to get around Lyon when I wanted to bike home from work. The Velov is heavy, the tires are wide, and the gear selection is poor. The Langster, on the other hand, is fast and once you spin up the gear to a reasonable cadence it is fast, too. I don’t have a computer on the bike but I have glanced at my watch a couple of times and noticed it edging towards 33km/hr or 34km/hr without a lot of effort. A couple of times I have hit downhills on the way home at about 40km/hr without any real effort so I am sure I could nudge it to 50km/hr if I wanted to. On a short commute I count that as fast.
5. It’s fun. When you don’t have brakes and you can’t stop quickly without either shredding the tires or crashing into something, you need to keep your head up and seek the best way through traffic so as you don’t have to stop. You weave through lines of parked cars, jump from road to cycleway, make a few calculations about whether that orange light is going to stay orange long enough for you to get through…or mostly through, and do the math on how quickly that bus or truck is going to accelerate away from the intersection. When you finally arrive and notice you are 10 seconds faster than the day before and feeling good, it’s a sign that you’re having fun while being damn efficient, too.
Image from Specialized website.