I tend to be cheap, maybe frugal, and I have an appreciation for vintage and unique bikes so I usually buy used bikes that I can service and then enjoy riding. I’ve only purchased a few bikes new off the showroom floor, with this Raleigh R600 being both the last and most expensive of my new bike purchases. I got this Raleigh from Redmond Cycle way back in the 90’s so today my R600 has a couple or two or three or more century rides on it and surely hundreds, maybe thousands, or more miles racked up from training and pleasure rides. It’s been ridden.
The pros for me at the time of purchase are still pros for me today. The Raleigh R600 is a dedicated road bike with a stiff aluminum frame, the Shimano 105 triple chainring group and from my perspective, is super light. That extra, 3rd chainring that is meant for hill climbing and heavy loads, is just the ticket for an overweight guy like myself living in the hilly Pacific Northwest. This 105 group also has Shimano’s Total Control Integrated shifters with the shifters integrated into the brake levers (brifters) which was really convenient and a new/big deal at the time.
Overall this R600 has mostly stood the test of time. I did buy new wheels a few years ago as the original hubs and spokes were completely worn out from miles. Other than that, I think I’ve only replaced consumables like tires and brake pads.
The bike has been solid and since I don’t ride a road bike that often, but it is nice to have at least one when you need one, I can anticipate having this bike for like forever. The only wrench that might be thrown in that one road bike plan is if I run across a Univega Sportour similar to one that I used to have. I could see modernizing the Univega and keeping it as my only road bike.
I’ve recently spent more time on this bike, gearing my body up for the Tour de Whatcom coming up next month. The riding positions with the drop bars is completely foreign to riding position on any of the other bikes I normally ride so I’ve got a whole different set of sore/stiff muscles brewing. The big positives that offset the sore muscles are that this bike is light feeling, really nimble, and fast accelerating, a lot of things that, on the pavement, my other bikes are not.
One thing I am trying out this next weekend is stepping up to larger tires. I used to run really skinny 23mm wide tires, stepped up to 25mm a few years ago to get tires with better flat protection and a little more cushion for rough county roads. Just yesterday my 28mm wide Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tires arrived. I’ve read a lot of research that shows that wider tires are often just as efficient or even more efficient as the narrow tires, given similar pressures. What I am hoping is that I will get even more relief from the buzzy harsh feel that narrow rock hard tires give without giving up too much in efficiency. We will see.
Now to get out there and ride.