Farewell to a Dear Bike

Posted by: Jan Heine Category: Rides, Testing and Tech

Farewell to a Dear Bike

Before packing up the Calfee “Adventure,” I took it out for one last ride. It was a lovely afternoon that did not feel like November. The sun was out, and it was 59 degrees F. The weather forecast was for rain in the lowlands and snow in the mountains. It seemed fitting to take a racing bike out on probably the last ride in shorts for the year.
The Calfee has become a friend. The combination of a superlight carbon fiber frame with 32 mm tires worked so well that I wrote: “I consider the Calfee ‘Adventure’ the racing bike of the future. It combines the clearance for wide tires with the light weight and performance of the best modern racing bikes.” I told Craig Calfee that I was tempted to buy the bike and keep it.

My previous ride on the Calfee had been a few weeks before Paris-Brest-Paris. Hahn, Sam, Ryan and I did speed intervals around Mercer Island. The Calfee was eager to go, and it was exhilarating to round the curves of the island road at speed. After one long pull, I asked Hahn how fast we were going. “50 km/h” was the answer. I was surprised, as it didn’t feel like 31 mph…
Since then, I had mostly ridden my new René Herse, with its frame from superlight, standard-diameter steel tubing. How would the Calfee feel after the Herse? I already knew from our comparative tests that objectively, it wasn’t any faster, but would it feel faster? Accelerate better? Stop better with its excellent brakes?
To find out, I headed to Mercer Island again. We’ve had some early frost, so the maple trees were spectacular in their yellow and red colors. After riding the wide 650B tires and the flexible fork blades of the Herse, the Calfee felt jarring at first, but I soon realized that it wasn’t overly harsh, just firm like the suspension of a good sports car.

I used to know Mercer Island like the pocket of my pants, because I went around the island several times a week. Now our rides venture further, and I don’t visit the island as often. It was fun to rediscover Mercer Island. The road curves as it winds around the island. The Calfee’s intuitive handling made these sharp corners thoroughly enjoyable. The challenging little rises and short climbs on Mercer Island came and went without upsetting the bike’s rhythm. The exhilarating acceleration of the Calfee was as I remembered it. It was fun to push harder on the pedals just to feel the bike go faster.

I added a little climb over the top of the island, then headed back. The setting sun played with golden light on the flaming trees. It was a beautiful sight, but a few minutes later, it started to get dark.  I had not thought about the end of Summer Daylight Savings Time when I left. Instead of becoming dark at 6, it now would be dark at 5. On my own bike, I’d turn the stem cap, and the lights would illuminate. On the Calfee, I was 30 minutes from home without lights. I looked at my watch: It was 4:30. If I hurried, I would make it. The Calfee did its best, and we got home a few minutes before 5.
It was nice to say farewell to the Calfee with such a nice ride. On smooth roads, it is as much fun to ride as my new Herse, which is high praise indeed. And when I brought the Calfee into the basement, I realized one advantage that the Calfee has over my Herse: An 18-pound bike is much easier to carry down the stairs than a 25-pound one.

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