What is the mark of connoisseurs within cyclist enthusiasts?

A conversation that sparkled today in the group ride: what would make a cyclist a connoisseur over a padawan-cyclist? By the end of the ride we were not yet done, so curious what would the answer be around the world.
If I had to pick one, that to me makes a clear cut, are riders selecting a frame base on fitting and not being stubborn on a frame just cause they like it and then stick a 140mm stem or 30+mm of spacers.
A minor one would be having tested tubulars (and maybe then hâte the effort!), until you tried (good ones Veloflex or corsa speed, not Continental, butyl, stiff ones) it you haven’t really experimented how special they feel, corner, accelerate.
What about you?

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To me, it’s someone who rides for pleasure consistently and isn’t in it to impress anybody.

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IMO, there is only one thing that matters….being smooth on the bike. Anyone can buy equipment, etc. but being smooth on the bike and being a “good wheel” is the hallmark of an excellent rider.

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Using a giant titanium schlong to hold your GPS.

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I agree. The equipment you have is far less relevant than the type of rider you are. I’d pick a smooth rider that can hold a line and isn’t a jerk over anything else any day.

To me the title “connoisseur” implies that you somehow knows what is better than something else and that your opinion is better than someone else’s. The examples listed are a perfect example. The implication is that,for example, tubular tires are “better” somehow. The ride might be a little nicer but the giant pain in the rear that they are far overrides any benefit. I’ve ridden tubulars and I’ve also spent hours patching flats, re-stitching the seam, and reglueing. Definitely NOT worth it especially compared to modern clinchers. So the connoisseur in me says “tubulars suck”. Anyone that disagrees is clearly some sort of caveman with completely unrefined tastes :joy:

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The connoisseur manifests him/herself by posture, comportment, and smoothness on the bike - which can take years to develop. When you see a rider with an exemplary, smooth stroke, rest assured that person has been in the sport for a while. Naturally you’d be a connoisseur too, by recognizing the person’s attributes. those aspects are irrespective of bling or brand name; riding a nice bike sure helps, but the rider doesn’t necessarily need to be astride a $ rig to reveal the level of involvement in the sport. As for knowledge of the sport (history, tactics, main riders, names of races, etc), that is a different proposition.

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This ^^^

I’ve seen overweight guys on $200 antique steel bikes that have it and 20 year-old super fit racers on $10k bikes that don’t even know what it is… how fast you are, how nice your gear is, how on your trend your kit is, none of that matters. Being confident, comfortable, and capable in handling your bike says more than anything else. It’s nice to look good on a bike but looking like you feel at home on your bike says more imo.

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That these type of questions even exist is why I have a hard time liking cycling culture. In all other sports I practice I have never come across the type unwelcoming attitudes that seem to flourish within cycling. Either you have the wrong skills, or the wrong gear, not enough experience, not maintaining your bike enough or having too good bike for your capacity or whatever. In cycling there’s a million ways to not fit in.

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I get your point, and it’s valid but I’d argue that the reasons we have all of these debates about what is correct/not correct in cycling is because the activity itself is so diverse. Since I’m Canadian, I’ll compare cycling to hockey. A non-professional cyclist can range anywhere from someone who commutes a few km per day to an ultra-endurance monster, from a leisurely paced rider who likes to take in the scenery, to a guy who goes out to hammer and barely looks up from the GPS dashboard. For the non-pro hockey player, the participation type is very narrow and everyone is effectively doing the same thing. Of course skill levels vary and we have the nuance of say pick-up hockey with no padding (aka “shinny”), and then a real game with officials on an official ice surface. But for the most part, hockey is hockey.

I prefer to think of cycling in a way that our diversity should unite us, not divide us. But I am also confident that 20 years ago I did not think this way.

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Class. As in social class.

Wine connoisseurship was and is a class marker: you had to be brought up with access to world class wines to gain real knowledge of them. This meant belonging to the social class that could afford them so knowing wine (connaissance) was a class marker.

Similarly the rise of ideas like bicycle conoisseurship has coincided with cycling shifting from a sport based on working class transport to a leisure activity for the upper middle classes.

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I thought you were being sarcastic with your initial nonsensical sookery, and then you doubled down and I realized you’re actually serious.

:joy:

Good shit.

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I am not sure why it should be linked to welcome or not people? I am sure some will use to segregate, I hope most will see it at improvement points or ways of sharing a certain knowledge.

@Eric_H has a very valid point that there are not many sports where in the same group you can have 14 and 60+ years old people, amateurs and pros all riding together. That cause a very wide range of ways to approach our sport.
Reading the first comments, I am not yet seeing segregation based on equipment, pretty much the opposite no?

“What is the mark of connoisseurs within cyclist enthusiasts?”

Elitism/snobism. It shouldn’t matter one bit what/how/where/why you ride, but rather, simply, if you ride…

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I hinted at the same type of question with the “to kit or not to kit” thread. I’ve been riding bikes as my main hobby/sport for about 29 years now, and according to the definitions listed in this thread so far (with the exception of teknofile’s definition) I’m still a padawan cyclist. I guess I’m just doing it wrong?

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To me a connoisseur is simply someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about a subject. I understand the association with snobbery and elitism, but that’s just one interpretation. In regards to cycling, connoisseurs should be appreciated as the repositories of knowledge - the guy on the group ride who can tell you who rode on the local race team in the late 80s or who holds a local TT record, the person who sees a steel bike and knows to ask if it’s Columbus SL or SLX tubing, or a fan who sees a retro jersey and can name more than one rider on that team…

In more modern terms I’d think a connoisseur should at least know where their bike was made, who one type of carbon layup may be used instead of another, maybe who welded their ti bike? Perhaps it’s a bit harder to be a connoisseur of modern bikes? Regardless, despite some negative connotations, a real cycling connoisseur adds a lot to cycling as a sport and activity.

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I guess by the very definition it is somebody who has expert knowledge or informed and discriminating taste. They do not even need to know how to ride a bike or own one themselves. Similarly, there would be connoisseurs of various arts who cannot paint for example and may not own an original piece.

Their knowledge and / or taste should however allow them to make sensible comment on some, but not necessarily all, aspects of cycling. As above, perhaps they are connoisseurs of Columbus steel tubing, but they may have no knowledge of maintenance of a six speed groupset. One of the guys I ride with clearly appreciates my bikes and is able to point out and lust after similarly classic rigs, but he can’t change a puncture without help. To be honest, tying shoe laces is almost beyond him, but he is clearly a connoisseur of steel bikes. Does he own one? Nope. Rides a modern plastic contraption with flappy electric gear shift levers and disc brakes.

They may have a vast knowledge of team kits but perhaps have limited ability to perform once they don said kit. Body shape clearly does not define the cycling connoisseur as this chap shows.

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what does he win?

Clearly the mark of a true aficionado of the pure cycling experience is:

Riding Singlespeed.

Nay, Fixed Gear.

Nay, the holy Unicycle.

Or, the ultimate simplicity: walking.

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Electronic fixed gear with no brakes, but they have to be no rim brakes as opposed to no disc brakes.

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Hey there are also a million ways you may not give a f*ck to those unwelcoming attitudes.

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