I’ve had some back-and-forth recently within a few industry friends about which bicycle design characteristics should be prioritized in a high-end bike for mass appeal.
We, the bike nerds of Planet Earth, are conditioned from a very young age to chase light weight over everything else. Many of us learn through experience that keeping bike weight down factors into performance, however if that was all that mattered, we’d all be riding around on 9-pound track bikes and loving it. We learn through experience that fit (obviously) matters, reliable functionality, tire clearance, comfort, aerodynamics, and - let’s face it - aesthetics, are all important factors in the final bike build.
My question to this forum: If you have $15,000 (US) to spend on your ideal dream road bike, what design features would you prioritize?
Aerodynamics? Versatility? Ease of maintenance? Looks? Comfort? Is weight still the number one priority?
What does your ideal road bike offer?
To me it’s country of origin, the people who are making it, Build Quality, materials used, future/standard proofing.
This much for a bike (shit my motorcycle doesn’t come close to 10 grand new and does 0-60 in under 3.4 seconds) for me isn’t about facts or figures it’s about supporting artisans and buying a piece of art that is functional. My assumption is they’ll be able to build the bike with whatever geometry my fitter would deem perfect and it would be light, stiff, and durable for 15 grand. My bike of choice would likely be a Firefly with Corima Wheels and Shimano 105 purely for trolling purposes.
relatively easy to tinker with (so avoiding too many funky “standards” that i might not be able to get replacement parts for–partially internal cable routing is fine, but I really want a threaded BB, round seatpost, conventional steerer/headset
Enough tire clearance, but not too much. I’m likely looking for 30-32mm on the road, 42-45mm on gravel.
A fit figure that is flexible and near the middle of the road for my fit range. I’m fine with putting a different stem on, swapping a seatpost clamp head, etc if i want to use a road frame for a TT with clip-on aero bars, load up some bags vs not, etc
Lighter is better but not at the be all and end all. I don’t need a 6.8kg bike but would prefer an 8kg bike to a 10kg bike.
I guess more generally, the thing for me is that I’m not buying a dream bike. I’m buying a dream frame and fully intend on tinkering with it because that’s something i enjoy. So I want a frame that takes readily to a variety of component builds and performs reasonably well with all of them.
- Fit. Absolutely perfect with comfortable room for adjustment in all likely directions (e.g. should be easy for +/- 15mm for Bar X/Y, saddle X).
- Stunningly made and stunning to look at. It should have a ‘wow’ factor, and not just from a blingy paintjob.
- Durable, reliable, robust. If I’m spending that much, I want it to last a decade +.
- Light enough. 8kg with pedals is fine.
If I had that kind of money, I’d look into a Prova or Baum (though I suspect 15k US probably isn’t enough - gasp!).
I second the fit, durability, and comfort requirements. It would also need to be beautiful and have some form of travel couplers, because then it would be easier to enjoy in new places.
My dream bike in this range would slot somewhere between all-road and gravel so that it would be enjoyable, if not optimum, in the widest range of conditions possible.
Paint must be pretty and ride must be comfortable. This is totally non-negotiable. Probably designed around 30-32mm tires with capacity for fenders, and can fit 38-40mm with acceptable handling. I would like some aerodynamic considerations, but must prioritize comfort. Despite that last sentence, i would probably be willing to “settle” for a round tubed bike, but I’d have deep wheels and maybe a one-piece aero handlebar.
I would prefer non dropped stays, and slightly prefer hoses not fully hidden. Weight is probably the last consideration. I’m obviously not willing to settle for a 25lb road bike, but we all know that’s not really possible at the price.
$11,000 on an Italian bike with Campy everything (performance is irrelevant - it’s all about the look - but probably a de Rosa or Wilier since I can’t bring myself to choke down an F12 or C64), $1,000 on some obnoxious boutique brand kit, $3,000 on Italian lessons so I could talk like a star rider on the visiting Italian team from the American Flyer movie while I’m sipping espressos at my local café.
Serious answer, probably a Wilier Zero SLR with DA di2 12 speed, and a couple sets of DuraAce wheels set up tubeless. Beautiful bike, best groupset (or equivalent to best - not getting into a grouppo brand fight), best or close to best wheels. I really cannot imagine needing anything more.
-Calfee Dragonfly in Team Z Blue.
-Campagnolo SR or Record mechanical.
-Darimo Bar/stem/seat post
-Selle San Marco Superleggera Shortfit saddle
-TIME XPro 15
-Cinelli Cork bartape
-CarbonWorks bottle cages
- Metal frame
- Fits up to 34-35mm tires
- Stable steering, not twitchy
- Longish wheelbase
- Built for a mechanical groupset
I love Ti, but I’ve found myself lusting for a Bishop Item 4 built to meet my needs.
Basically sounds like the All City Zig Zag frame I got for £650 recently. It was new but had been built up for a display which meant that I didn’t even need to cut the steerer.
You could get one of those and still have enough money from this budget for a car or motorbike.
Insomnia means I’ve got a good handle on my dream bike features!
- Metal be it ti, stainless or magnesium
- Clearance for fat tyres
- Fork able to take a 180mm disc
- Not painted - I love welded ti or steel colours
- Well thought out internal routing
- Definitely 100% home mechanic friendly, no pressfit BB or wierd standards (such as seat post that only fits one model)
- Light enough
That’s a very good point. I want the round bits round and the flat bits flat!
I almost took a job at Calfee. Great bike.
What is it about the Dragonfly that sticks out to you?
I’ve seen the Zero SLR. You’re the first person I’ve heard from that shows interest. Is there anything specific that draws you to it?
So … any bike in the right size?
I’ve always loved the webbed lugs and the blue resin tint of Greg LeMond’s 1991 bike.
I have a Tetra Pro but it’s a little too big, a custom would be nice.
It depends of the intended use really.