Bike Bling – All Splash and No Dash?

On the most recent Sporra podcast we cracked a joke about the copious amounts of bike bling one can see along a popular time trial Strava segment on the Minami Boso Flower Line. All of that carbon needed to make the giant air foil shapes definitely pushes time-trial (TT) bikes towards the pricier side of a typical bike budget. For dedicated triathletes and TT racers the expense is justified – it’s a speciality bike designed to serve a narrow purpose, and it accomplishes that purpose well.

Two athletes of similar capability competing in your typical time trial, one riding a TT bike with all the aero kit and the other on a road bike (even an “aero” road bike), the rider on the TT bike is going to be faster. Period. This is something you can prove empirically in a wind tunnel, and a race category where wind tunnel claims of marginal gains are actually relevant. Cycling Weekly did a great video that you can watch here illustrating the gains achieved through aero, comparing a Boardman AIR with that of their TTE time trial bike. What’s interesting to me is how close the road bike gets to the TT frame once it’s been…adjusted specifically for a TT. And of course we’ve all seen this guy

But that’s all boring science stuff. I want to get to the bottom of why someone goes out and spends thousands of $$$, and in some cases of $10K to buy a top-shelf TT bike, or a professional super bike when they’re not racing or not even in particularly good shape. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen some old, fat guy putzing along the river side on something designed, and priced, to be raced by a professional athlete on the world tour.

Is it the same psychological need that drives one to spend exorbitant sums of money on a supercar? Men buy flashy cars as part of an evolutionary mating strategy. Turns out that women are indeed drawn to displays of conspicuous consumption, but apparently only as a short-term partners and not as marriage material. Don’t believe me? There are multiple studies on this. Here’s one – great night-time reading but I can save you the trouble and tell you that in conclusion, for the hookup-seeking male out there, Tinder + Lambo = you win!

OK – you’re pea-cocking around, gut hanging down all over your $10K super bike, but who are you trying to impress, exactly? Other lycra-clad males? In Japan at least, cycling is just about the most male sport you can do. To the more experienced cyclists out there, when someone’s legs are over-matched to such a great extent by their bike it just makes you look…pathetic and sad. Perhaps to the money-is-not-a-factor beginner cyclist, a TT bike with all it’s gaudy air foils, looks cool, but they also weigh a ton and are kind of a one-trick pony. I certainly would not want to haul one of those up Wada Toge.

I suppose that’s enough complaining for today. Just wanted to get that off my chest. If you’ve got some insights or an opinion on this let us know on the Sporra sub-reddit or hit us up on Twitter.

See you on the road!