Lately I have been riding this bike almost exclusively. The Spot folks sent out a test bike sporting the latest iteration of the Gates Carbon Drive system, that being the new CenterTrak. So far the belt has been trouble free and solid except for one minor but annoying issue, but I will save that for later.
This is about steel. Nice steel. Nice steel tubes. Nice steel tubes as used to construct a bicycle frame. It is not secret how I feel about steel 29er singlespeeds. A cursory search of this blog will bring up a few missives on my thoughts about that. However, it had been a long time since I had been on a really nice steel frame, that 'nice' as it is used here, meaning a more expensive blend of higher end, thinner, lighter, and more manipulated steel tubing. I have been on a few $500.00-$600.00 dollar retail frames and they have been just fine. Sure, they are kinda heavy, but they do the job pretty well, well enough that I was not sure if spending twice as much+ for a frame like the Spot would really be worth it.
And after riding this for quite a few hours now, I think it is. I think there is enough benefit to make it worth the step up in duckets for a frame like this.
Now that phrase, "worth it", is, I admit, controversial and vague. No one needs a $1500.00 steel frame unless they are truly unique in size or conformation and custom is the best option. So really, what we are talking about is not really proof of worth, but rather a reasonable return in performance over and above the lesser priced brethren I have been pedaling.
After all, it is not half as heavy, twice as stiff, twice as smooth.....etc. It is only twice as expensive. So what do I think I have gained? Well, it is just a little bit stiffer at the BB, just a little bit lighter on the scale, just a little bit smoother over the trail, and just a little bit spunkier when pedaled hard. Just a little bit.
But I will tell ya' that "little bit" goes a long ways when you actually ride it. The end result is enough of a gain to make each ride 'that' much nicer. Nothing dramatic, but noticeable, and in a world where we spend $300.00 dollars on a saddle or agonize over the latest linked suspension design and whether it solves the mysteries of the universe, a simple steel bike with one gear and just a bit nicer overall ride is enough to make me smile and wheel it out of the garage, choosing it over more than a few other fancier scoots.