This year my Breezer mountain bike is celebrating it’s 20th year of mud, road salt and potholes. I’ve ground more than three sets of components into sand and the frame fights on, albeit with a few more chips and dings. It takes time to appreciate it but this is what people mean when they say “steel is real”.
We might just now be turning the corner on the worst winter in memory in NYC and everyone has cabin fever something fierce. While there is no doubt my Titanium road bike can handle the impending mess of the spring melt-off, Dura-ace parts do the same thing as all others when subjected to excessive road debris and buying new drivetrains aftermarket can get really expensive really quick. I decided it was time to take the leap and get a dedicated training bike.
Every once in a while, one of the founding fathers of the Mountain Bike Joe Breeze pokes his head back into the competitive world of cycling and designs a fast bike. Usually they are of the mountain variety but the Venturi road bike has made a couple appearances over the years. It is made of steel and thus not aimed at the road racer but he always outfits them nicely (no less than Ultegra). They carry the old Ignaz Schwinn paint job from the early 1900s and are very unassuming in appearance but toss a set of CRUD fenders on and you’re ready to have some fun in the pre-season!
About three years ago I had set up an eBay alert for this very bike but since they are so exceedingly rare I honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it. Imagine my surprise an email showed up a couple of weeks ago for a listing of last year’s model, unused, for the price of the Ultegra gruppo. I was pretty much obligated. I took shipment of the bike, swapped a few parts for fit and took it out the very next weekend—our first warm day of the year; 50 and sunny with some good snowbank runoff from the road shoulders.
Despite (or possibly because of?) some purposefully heavy parts (such as the wheels) it handled very well–it was rock solid on the descents and crosswinds and responded well to mashing on the pedals thanks to an oversize bottom bracket that was designed to accommodate the BB30s that you normally find installed in carbon fiber frames. I would say that this felt a little stiffer than my Titanium racing bike, even though the Ti has a tubes the size of a baseball bat.
The original plan was to ride to stateline but the sun and the momentum from the sprint carried me over the hill and ultimately on to Nyack before my rational mind finally made me turn around as there were still many miles, hills and gusts of wind between there and home.
I will mention the CRUD fenders here, which are an absolutely essential part of any training bike. The reviews you’ve read are accurate: They are a pain in the ass to set up because the tolerances are so tight. I absolutely guarantee that the first time you get them set and spin a wheel something will be rubbing. Once you fiddle with them for a while you’ll get them silent and then you can use them.
The two things to point out in the photo are:
- The length of the fenders is not only polite for those in your draft, they also do a very good job of keeping all but the spritz off of you. I rode through a lot of water on my first ride wearing normal (non-waterproof) shoe covers on. My feet did not get wet.
- Look closely near the front deraileur—that little extra swoosh of plastic does an incredible job of preventing your shifter from becoming a sandcastle
So in summary the bike (and a few carefully chosen parts) were all I dreamt they would be. I, on the other hand, wasn’t, but now I have no more excuses. Time to get outside!