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The “ugly bike” dilemma

Have you ever fallen out of love with a bike? Not because it kept breaking or discharging its Di2 battery overnight. Or because you couldn’t keep up with your mates (who are, let’s face it, really your enemies) when they sprinted for the telephone box. But because, well, you just don’t find it attractive anymore?

That’s exactly how I feel about my 2018 Giant TCR SL 1. I’ve ridden it twice this year. Just twice. That’s terrible for a bike that had an RRP of £4,599 just two years ago.

Okay, so to be honest the reasons I haven’t ridden as much as I should are a little more multifarious: the fancy integrated seatpost is about 3mm too long (according to a more recent bike fit) and with all the Covid-crap going on, I haven’t had a chance to get it cut; then there’s the faff of having to swap the Garmin Vector pedals over from whichever bike they’re currently on (mostly the 2015 Giant Propel lately) and finally there’s the dilemma of the wheel choice.

As standard the bike came with lightweight SLR1 carbon wheels (rim brake) which I think have only 30mm deep rims. They don’t look remotely racy and have virtually no aero benefits. So I often swap them out for a pair of Spin on These Fatboys which are about 50mm deep. Much nicer, but the graphics really jaw with the SL’s paintjob (annoyingly, from 2019 onwards Giant supplied the 42mm rims with the SLs, which look a ton better).

Which segues back nicely to the main theme of this post, the bike’s paintjob.

I didn’t have a huge amount of choice in it, to be honest. And I’m grateful to have it. I’d been riding that year’s Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc and just hadn’t been getting on with it. So my team boss at the time offered me a trade-in against the lighter SL. Really nice offer. The only downside, that garish puke green paintjob.

Anyway, that’s a very long way of getting to the current dilemma. What to do about a bike with a paintjob that you’re really beginning to find offensive (and it’s near-impossible to get any kit that doesn’t clash with it!)?

The options seem to be:

1. Sell it and buy a new one – make sense except the bike is in near-perfect nick and selling it for 50% of what I paid for it (see above, that’s not quite true) only to have to buy a new one (again, not quite at RRP, but still a major investment) is just not financially attractive. I’m getting a bit fed up selling kit for a fraction of what I paid for it (let alone the amount I give away).

2. Buy a new frameset and swap the parts (and maybe sell the old frameset) – this would be attractive except: a) the new SL frameset RRP is £2350-odd, b) I don’t like the colour much and c) I’m already doing just that on my 2019 TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc (which funnily enough I’m getting on with much better than the 2018 version, I just want to try the new-shape 2021 frame….). I’ve no idea what I’d be able to sell the old SL frame for on eBay. But doubt it’s anything like the £2350 cost of the new one.

3. Repaint it – this seems like the obvious option, but it’s also expensive unless you’re happy to add about 300g in fresh paint, which seems pointless on what’s supposed to be a superlight bike! You can get the bike frame stripped back to bare carbon first, which would negate the weight gain, but obviously you pay more for the labor. And then there’s the problem that most recommended frame painters seem to be booked up for the rest of 2020 already!

4. Wrap it – to be honest, I don’t even know if you can do this…. But they do it to cars, so I’m guessing that someone somewhere would know how to do a vinyl wrap on a bike frame? God knows that it would look like or do to the aerodynamics, but at least it would cover up the green!

What else am I missing and what would you do if you were in my shoes? Would you just ‘suck it up princess’ and ride on, safe in the knowledge that the bike rides a lot better than it looks? Would you take one of the above courses of action? Or would you do something else entirely?

Let me know!


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