That New, Better Bike

Ramon H.


Once we noobs have been riding a while, it’s only natural to think about upgrading to a better bike.  For one Bike Noob reader, Ramon H. of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, everything happened to line up at the same time: the bike shop had what he wanted, his wife is really nice, and he got a heckuva deal.  I asked Ramon to write a guest post about acquiring his bike, a titanium Serotta.

It all got started because I had taken my entry level Trek road bike into the LBS (Wally’s Bicycles) because there was a severe shifting issue in the back.  Basically, the bike kept shifting back and forth all on its own.  I had ridden the bike for several thousand miles, so I would not have been surprised if they would have told me to get a new cassette.  While I was there, I decided to ask how much it would set me back to buy Shimano 105 components.  The rationale was that I was probably going to buy a new cassette anyway, so might as well do this upgrade if the numbers looked right.

Wally had always had a Serotta floor model that several of us would drool at everytime we came into the shop.  He commented that the main shortcoming of the bike was that it was a titanium frame and that most of the folks that were serious about spending that kind of money would inevitably veer towards carbon framesets.  I had always thought about getting a Serotta with a titanium frameset, but the cost was very prohibitive.  Wally informed me that the issue with my entry level bike was that one of the cables needed replacing.  He started running the numbers on the gruppos I had asked him about and they were not coming back too nicely.  I already had known that when one buys a bike, the gruppo is a big part of the cost, so no surprise on my part there.

The interesting part is what happened next.  I think the cycling gods were smiling upon me that day because you could almost see the lightbulb go off on Wally’s head.  He took out his measuring tape and did a couple of quick measurements on my entry level bike and the Serotta floor model.  I was extremely hesitant because I knew what the cost of that bike was.  I remember Wally saying something like, “Hmm … this is very odd, almost freaky odd.”  He started telling me the measurements and they were coming back uncannily similar to my own bike.  He already knew that I always wanted a Serotta because I had mentioned it a couple of times before.  He said, “Those measurements are coming real close to your existing bike.  You are welcome to ride it during the shop’s ride in a couple of days so you can test it out.  The bike has been sitting on my floor since the day I opened the store over a year ago.  I want that bike to go to a person who is going to do plenty of riding.  Let’s make a deal …”

And quite a deal he gave me.  It was one of those deals that I could not refuse.  Unfortunately, it was one of those deals that I had not budgeted for.  I went home and consulted with the missus.  She came back to the shop the next day to take a look at the bike and asked all of the preliminary questions a spouse tends to ask.  Ultimately she said, “Ride the bike during the shop’s ride tomorrow and see how it feels.  If you like it, you would be a fool not to buy it.”

The Serotta Fierte, all Ultegra. (Click to enlarge.)

Of course, the next question you will have is: How does it ride?  It is almost magical.  For starters, I get a lot more for the effort I put in.  This bike is fast!  I can keep an 18-21 mph pace quite easily.  On the entry level bike, this same amount of effort would only get me to a 16-19mph pace.

The acceleration is phenomenal.  When leading a group, it is not uncommon for me to easily drop the entire group as we are coming out of a traffic light or a turn.  There is a lot of yelling when I do this because folks think I am being a jerk.  Honestly, I don’t do it on purpose.  The bike just takes off by itself, so I have learned to tone it down when I take off and not even get off the saddle because otherwise I end up dropping the group.

The ride is also very smooth.  I can ride over chipseal and while most folks are hurting, I am just enjoying the ride.  Now here is the best part of owning a titanium frame: never having to worry about rust on the frame or about the paint job.  Titanium rusts very very very very slowly, and not the same as other metals.  That means I don’t have to worry if I get sweat all over it.  Additionally, there is no paint job and I don’t have to worry about scratches or about having to apply polish/wax to it.  As as friend put it, “If your frame gets scratched, you just take some steel wool and rub it right out.”

Good for you, Ramon.  If we wind up on the same ride in Central Texas someday, you’ll have to let me ride it — before you use it to leave me in the dust.


  1. Mel Hughes says

    Congratulations, Ramon! That is a beautiful bike! I wish you thousands of miles of happiness riding it!
    Isn’t it interesting how “That New, Better Bike” slips into your thoughts and dreams? For years, I dreamed about owning a Litespeed. Living in Chattanooga, I would see the new bikes and think I shouldn’t even look. I could neither afford to buy them nor did I deem myself worthy. Almost five years ago, my wife showed me an add for a used Litespeed road components and different riding styles.frame. “I believe it is your size,” she pointed out. We went to see the bike. While I was riding it, my wife was dealing, and when I got back, we owned the bike. For me, it was perfect, seven years old and needing an overhaul. It has been a great platform for me to experiment with different components and different riding styles. But I still find myself dreaming about yet another frame…

  2. mildstallion says

    Hey Ramon – color me jealous. That is one sweet looking bike, and it sounds like it rides as well as it looks.

    You got to look at the bike every time you went to your LBS; I go by the Serotta FACTORY every time I go to Saratoga (my wife works 5 minutes from there).

    I’m riding an 18 year old steel tank. I can’t wait for that new-bike ride. I hope this is the year.

  3. says

    Congrats, really nice looking machine, LOL, well I didn’t get a “better” new bike, just a “different” one! Will finally (too much snow and ice), get to pick up my Sun EZ-1 SX Recumbent tomorrow!! Have “Too Much FUN” on the new bike! :)

  4. RamonH says

    No wonder the wife was uncharacteristically cordial that day *grin* One of these days, I may just drive up to Austin and try the velodrome that folks keep talking about. 😀

  5. Kevin says

    Hey Ramon,
    I see that you moved your Brooks saddle over to your new ride.
    How has the saddle worked out for you so far?

    I received my B17N from ribble few weeks ago but it’s hard as a rock.
    I’m planning to break it in using a damp cloth method and hope it will speed up the process.

    • RamonH says

      Yes, I moved the Brooks from the entry level bike to this one. The saddle works beautifully, and is very comfortable. You have to be a little careful not to let it get wet (rain and wet ground). I carry the Brooks saddle cover in my saddle bag, just for this reason. I may have to lace it in a couple of months. I have the Brooks for almost 2 years now.

      Regarding the breaking-in process, I did not use any chemicals or methods. I just rode on it. It took about 400 miles for either the saddle to get broken in, or for my butt to get broken in to the saddle 😀

  6. Rick says

    Have an eight year old titanium frame Airborne. My wife rides a nine year old titanium Airborne. No rust, no fuss. A little machine oil and it’s just as shiny as the day we bought them. My wife still has the original Ultegra group set. Last year I upgraded to the latest Ultegra triple after experience shifting problems. Found out those 8 year old Ultegra shifters are hard, if not impossible, to find nowadays. But the cost, plus a new set of lightweight very fast Easton wheels, was about the same as what I paid for the original bike. Come ride the Austin veloway. Be glad to see another ti frame out there.

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