Friday, September 07, 2007

A New Ride

Last week, I became the owner of a shiny new bicycle. It's a Bianchi Volpe, technically a cyclo-cross bike, but I plan to use it for commuting and fun long rides on the weekend.

Bianchi at the Leslie Spit

I don't buy a bicycle often, so it took me a couple months to decide what to do. The last bicycle I bought was a mountain bike in 2000. I've mentioned here before that the road bike I've been using for commuting and distances was a gift to me from my parents on my 13th birthday. I've made good use of it. I always suspected it was small for my adult self, and now that I've been riding my new full size bike, I can be sure of it.

A cross bike fits my needs well. It has a strong frame that can handle having some weight tied to the rack. It has lots of tire clearance with room for fenders and large tires. It has excellent brakes. Drop handlebars, and their many hand positions, is a feature I didn't want to lose. And I didn't want to shock myself with the price, but I was willing to spend enough that my car driving friends would be shocked. ("I could have told you where to get a nice bike for $300!") This bike is cheaper than any good touring bike I saw, probably because of the component selection. Overall, the bike has a good reputation.

Things I like on the Volpe: The brakes - I can actually skid on dry pavement now. The steering - The large handlebars and brake hoods give me very comfortable places to put my hands. The feel - I don't know why, but I feel like I have a lot of control. I wish I could explain that better. The gear shifting - some cyclo-cross bikes have bar end shifters. This one has indexed brake lever shifters. It's been pretty nice climbing hills and coming up to stop lights, shifting quickly without even moving my hands.

As for negatives: What I've conveniently left unclear in my photograph is the saddle. The bike has a leopard print saddle that seems to attract a lot of attention from anyone looking at the bike. Personally, I find it's strangeness slightly attractive, much like the "gang green" paint job. On this 2007 model, the wheels have 32 spokes, as opposed to last year's model with 36 spokes. I'll see how that plays out after I drop off a curb with some weight on the back. The tires are knobby 700x32's, so there's a bit of a hum as I ride. I had planned on swapping out the tires with my smooth 700x28's, but after riding for a week, I'm finding I really like these tires. The extra girth makes riding over the cracked road very comfortable. I think I'll wait until I have a long ride planned before I swap the tires. There's no rack on the bike. I'll take care of that soon enough.

All in all, I'm a very happy cyclist. As someone used to riding a bike from the late 80's, I might have enjoyed any new bike, but I really feel like I made a good choice. The bike has a smooth ride and solid feel that I really like. I'm looking forward to seeing how it handles with some weight on the back going down those big rolling hills in the country.

Check back with me in 2025 for my next road bike review.

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Darren J 9/07/2007 05:40:00 p.m.


Excellent! I'm proud of ya!

A chromoly frame (and fork) ... there aren't many new high quality 'retail' steel bikes to choose from. I'm impressed. I didn't know about it 'till now.

During the summer I came upon 'Sweet Pete's' Bike Shop on Bloor (at Lansdowne) ... a truly professional proprietor/business ... and I discovered the Trek 1200 (?) touring bike ... also a fine chromoly machine.

Anyway, good for you. You deserve it after your crazy ride to Ottawa.

Have you decided on a type of lock to entrust your bike to?

It has "cool" quality. I like the leopard print. Didn't think I would, but then I saw the picture on the link you provided. Nice! Won't get lost in the sea of other black otters.
Thanks, D!

I should have mentioned that it's steel. I keep reading that that's a good thing. I'm under the impression that an aluminum frame can be designed have the same strength and stiffness as a steel frame, so I yield to the experts on this one.

I picked this up at Urbane, by the way. I didn't want to get into a review of bike shops, but they were good to me there. Very friendly and helpful.

No lock choice yet. Since I get to bring my bike inside at work, I was in no rush. I saw that the high end locks are $130. Pretty steep.
A fine looking steed.

Steel is real.
I've never taken off the 700 x 32 cross tires on my jamis either - they're just SO comfortable that I can't imagine why I'd go back to 23s, 25s or 28s unless I was doing a race or something.

Hope you get many years and many miles out of the bike Darren! : )
Hey such a nice bike deserves a nice long ride! Sunday 200k brevet Erin Mills-Cayuga (on grand river). What does the bike say? Does it have a name? Does it wanna come? I like the idea of not changing the tires out for smooth ones so I have the hope of having someone to ride with (as the rest of the randonneurs will be miles ahead of me no doubt) but I'm sure its still a pretty zippy bike with a fast rider.
Volpe is a classic in the Bianchi line...been around forever and such a value. FWIW they are dumping the high end steel stuff and just doing the mid-level for 08.
Since this thread is from 2007, I was wondering if you still had that Bianchi Volpe in Toronto. It must have been difficult to get one, since Bianchi doesn't import the Volpe into Canada. So it's either getting it from someone who brought one from the US, or travelling to the US yourself to get one. Which one was it for you?

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