“I might’ve started the day with the wrong foot, but it shouldn’t ruin the whole ride,” I told myself.
There I was, standing in the middle of hilly banana plantation in West Cipada, immersing myself in the view of Mt. Burangrang to the east, and glimpse of infamous Gede-Pangrango twin volcanoes to the west, feeling small and free at the same time. The air was cool, and the sky was cloudy, with a dash of gentle morning sun. After a hard struggle caused by my own foolishness, I could finally take a deliberate deep breath, and put myself at ease.
Here’s a little known fact: few bike upgrades—if any—comes close to the value of great tires. That ultralight aero wheelset your fellow cyclists have been raving about? Will perhaps improve 2-3% of total performance. That overpriced, oversized ceramic derailleur pulley? Good luck ekeing more than 1% of performance gain out of it. A pair of supple performance rubbers, on the other hand, is a potential game-changing gem; it can easily gain as much as 5% of performance increase compared to stiff, touring model—equal to the performance gain of dropping 7 kg off the bike. Supple tires, especially the wider ones, also improve comfort in a way carbon handlebar and/or seatpost can never match.
Tires, therefore, should occupy the top of bike upgrade/improvement list.
If you can only have one bike, how would you build it?
Against widespread adoption of N+1 principle among cyclists, I have long been a believer of “one bike to rule them all” approach. For me, it made much more sense. On a multi-terrain cycling adventure, changing bikes to suit specific terrain condition isn’t an option; not even changing wheelsets. Combining long stretch of paved road, long climbs, rocky gravel road, steep twisty descents, even singletracks, such adventure demands one bike capable to tackle them all. Granted, such a bike will not excel at any particular task; it will, however, do well on almost any challenge a cycling adventure throw at it.