It seems 2021 is full of full upgrades for me. Recently, I tried to upgrade my DSLR camera to a full-frame, then I upgraded to a full-suspension mountain bike. I hope this is not the beginning of consumerism for me. That would be sad. But I believe this was needed. Taking pictures and biking are the only activities that bring me happiness in the past months and soon years during this pandemic.
Either case, I think nothing will be that expensive as a full-suspension mountain bike. I felt that full-frame camera already had a crazy price tag, but now it seems like nothing. I was curious, why the hell are bikes that expensive?
Well, the answer is quite simple. It’s about quality and innovation. The bike industry is innovating at a fast pace. Every year there is something better, and every time the material must be the top, and the precision must be high. Every single detail is essential. Sure, I could afford a used car instead of a bike for the same price, but the quality would be super low. If I wanted the same quality, the car would have cost more than ten times more for sure.
I wanted the entry-level full suspension mountain bike with aluminum. Aluminum would decrease the cost almost by half. The problem is, the market with bikes is running short. It is hard to find a bike! I guess moreover now when it is ski season. So there was only one bike for my height and close to my budget: Specialized Epic Evo 2022 for 4600 euros (only 600 euros more than I was willing to spend).
But I’m glad I had to buy this bike. Carbon makes a significant difference. I live on the second floor without an elevator, and I keep my bike home. Cellars are not well protected, so anything valuable stored there is just an invitation for foes. You can imagine it is pretty heavy to take the bike with me upstairs after the ride. Even though the new bike is only about two kilograms lighter, it feels like at least 5 kilograms difference. I really couldn’t believe the difference is 14 versus 16 kilograms. Every gram counts!
I can feel lightness not only when walking on the stairs but also during the ride. My previous bike had short (only front) suspension, and in some places around my flat, I was jumping a lot. Specialized Epic Evo is equipped with 120mm front and 40mm rear suspension. I almost don’t even notice the terrain now (at least in the city park, let’s see about real mountains in the future).
One of the things which surprised me was wide handlebars. Going from 650 to 760 millimeters makes the ride weird at first. Fit the bike in the door is a bit harder and the bike is longer because of the rear suspension, so it seems I cannot squeeze it in the car anymore! But I must admit, it is indeed better. On places where I had a bit of issue with stability on the old bike, I have none with the new one. I was told it is better for downhill, but it is better also for uphill.
Speaking of uphill, I had 3x9 gearing, which was not enough for me. Some hills were just too steep. Therefore, seeing 1x12 on most bikes was very surprising for me. It felt like this was a step back. Again, my worries were unnecessary. First of all, some gears were not usable anyway, and I had to constantly adjust both front and back gears to match the conditions. Having only one gear to care about makes it much more straightforward. Yet still, the range is wider than before.
Also, I like that it is possible to change gear by three speeds in one go these days—much appreciated! But what is unfortunate is the SRAM trigger is controlled in both directions with my thumb. It doesn’t seem that comfy to me as the solution using thumb and index finger.
The best feature I didn’t know about at all is dropper-posts. About ten years ago, when I was buying my first MTB, I hadn’t seen any bike with a moving seatpost up and down. These days, I haven’t seen any mountain bike without it! I have to say this is amazing. I couldn’t properly use it yet, but I love it.
The elegant idea is to include small tools in the bottle holder. That just saves a lot of space and a few grams. Very practical indeed. Also, I spent some time tweaking my working environment to be ergonomic. I was surprised that grips could be ergonomic as well! It’s a must-have.
I’m amazed by the progress in the past decade—no wonder the bike price is that high. Innovation is swift and remarkable. I was afraid if I found any issue, I would be sad spending so much money. But no. It’s worth it. Even though my friend laughed at me that he has most of the features on a ten times cheaper bike (but it is not a full-suspension carbon MTB).
Now the question is, with such a fantastic bike when everything seems so smooth, and with proper clothes, that I can go out in winter and be just fine, what’s the challenge? I guess how many times I can go per week. See you somewhere out. :)