It sure is pretty.

It sure is pretty.

I owned and rode a Lynskey Viale titanium-frame bicycle for six months. That six months taught me a valuable lesson about something I call “the hubris of experience”.

As you move up the learning curve in any endeavor, you can reach a level of competence where you believe you know more than you really know. Think of it as an offshoot of the Dunning-Kruger effect. In my case, I’d become familiar with bicycle geometries that worked well for me, so I believed I could buy a bike based on the numbers.

Viale bare frame

Viale bare frame

Make no mistake, Lynskey builds great bicycle frames. The Viale itself would be a great bike for someone — just not me. But before I dive into why my Lynskey experience proved less than perfect, let’s talk a bit about the bike itself.

Lynskey builds their bikes using titanium, a relatively exotic metal offering remarkable ride quality. Titanium soaks up road vibrations almost as well as carbon, with nearly the stiffness. So the Viale climbed better than my old steel-frame Jamis Quest. The latest iteration of the Viale implements road disc brakes, which offer more control over braking, as well as working better in wet weather than rim brakes.

So when the Viale frame went on sale, I thought it would be cool to have a semi-custom build. I bought

I had a Shimano Ultegra groupset from a previous bike.

I had a Shimano Ultegra groupset from a previous bike.

the frame, fork, and titanium seat post from Lynskey. I had a complete Shimano Ultegra drive train from a bike whose frame had been irreparably damaged in an accident, as well as Bontrager Race Lite Isozone handlebars. I worked with my favorite local dealer (Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos) to spec out additional parts: train, brakes, wheels, stem, etc. In the end, I had road disc bike with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical drive train, Avid BB-7 mechanical brakes, and DT Swiss wheels coupled to White Industries disc hubs.

The bike was gorgeous.

I rode it on standard daily road rides for a few weeks, and really enjoyed the feel. As a road bike, the Viale’s ride quality nearly matched the pricier Trek Domane 5.2 carbon frame bike I usually ride on daily workouts. Sounds great, right?

Rear disc brakes

Rear disc brakes

However, I had other plans for the Viale. I have this curious dream of owning an all-around bike that can accept fenders, a rear rack, and panniers. Call it a light touring or urban commute bike, if you will. Lynskey even classifies the Viale this way.

When I mounted a rack on the bike and threw on my Ortlieb Downtown panniers, I discovered a pretty significant problem. I’d carefully studied the geometry of the Viale. The standover, reach, stack, and other parameters seemed to match the geometry of the Domane 5.2. The key spec missing from the Viale’s specification page: wheelbase.

I discovered that my heels strike the rear panniers when riding. This might be mitigated by getting rack that mounts a little further back. I also discovered something else that only the relatively slow, loaded riding revealed: my Viale also had significant toe overlap — worse than the Quest. In three months of riding, I’d never noticed that, but maybe just didn’t make sharp turns at slow speeds.

So now I had a bike with lovely ride quality, but didn’t really fit what I wanted. Once you reach a certain

Front disc brakes and Lynskey carbon fork

Front disc brakes and Lynskey carbon fork

level of disillusionment with something you bought, it’s hard to shake it. The Viale rode well on daily rides, but my Trek is better suited for that type of riding. The Viale didn’t fit my vision of an all-around town bike.

So reluctantly, I put the Viale up for sale. The good news is that I broke even, since I the drive train and handlebars were repurposed. Remember, though, to not forget what you don’t know when you become relatively competent. No matter how good you get, there’s always something you’ll need to learn the hard way.

As the saying does, good judgment is the result of experience — and experience is often the result of bad judgment.

 

 

One thought on “The Bicycles In My Life: Lynskey Viale

  1. I had a similar experience. But…….drove and hour to try a Viale’ and found the huge toe to tire overlap. So i backed off and am now considering other options. I am searching for the same bike application as the author.
    Marty in Rochester NY

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