Review by Kirsten Weisbeck
Minutes after leaving Sun and Air with VonHof’s new DIA, someone yelled, “DAMN that’s a nice bike!" as I passed by. Compliments aren't always dolled out so willingly in NY, so it had a bit of a chest-puffing effect that followed me home.
Don't want to get carried away before properly introducing myself -- my name is Kirsten and I am the managing editor of PDF. I am also studying public health and epidemiology at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY. My sport love affair is with judo, but cycling to me is the most practical source of transportation and fun on this planet. As kind of an aside: the last few months have been a transitional period for me personally, but I find myself consistently inspired by the rad people that I've been connected to through the PDF community. So, THANK YOU all, love watching this community grow.
One thing I am not, however, is a forthcoming racer. I’ve been a commuter and bike enthusiast for years. I appreciate the craftsmanship and complexity in the elite cycling arena, but equally appreciate the simple underpinnings of what makes cycling great. Riding further than you have before, to a difference place, as a means of exploring an unfamiliar city, or even just getting from point A to point B.
Before circling back to the lovely DIA, I'm going to nerd out for a bit in a non-bike way. I could give you a laundry list of pros, cons, and specs (which I did anyway, if you want to jump ahead, by all means click here, but for all the non-pros out there who are looking for a little extra depth in a review, I'm here for you.
Self-efficacy is term relating to one psychological measure of mental health, and is thrown around regularly in the scientific community but rarely elsewhere. This concept has roots in the social cognitive theory put forth by Albert Bandura, and refers to an individual’s perception of their own ability to complete a task and reach goals.
I’ve always been fascinated by this concept. For anyone who has ever dealt with mental illness or depression, you are well aware of the importance motivation and confidence have, and how certain achievements (or lack thereof) can weigh on your day. Self-efficacy is essentially how much momentum you can build within yourself to complete a task, and the level of confidence you have in yourself to reach future goals.
There are loads of different articles about how this contributes to our well-being and is developed in childhood. However to avoid contributing to the hot mess of fake news out, I’ll state explicitly that this is like, my personal opinion man, about self-efficacy, cycling, and the DIA.
The more items on you miss on your To Do list, the more mental strain you feel when considering really big goals down the road. Over time, and especially when life throwing you all sorts of punches, this might make your visions more fuzzy or your goals seem out of reach.
But here’s the thing about self-efficacy -- whether you feel it in this moment or not, it certainly doesn’t predict the future. So if you’re someone who has had more Losses than Wins lately and you’re reading this thinking “I’m an ineffective human and won’t accomplish my goals”, well.. You aren’t, and please keep reading.
Although it does not predict the future, "believing in yourself™" is a necessary part of reaching your goals, and self-efficacy is the bridge. It seems logical to me that acknowledging what it is and how it facilitates self-confidence is the first step toward changing the tide.
Even when you’re at a point where you feel like you need a “big” win, focusing on a more moderately difficult task (that may even be completely unrelated to your goals *air bicycles*) can help to build your confidence and ultimately help you tackle the big stuff. Tools that help you do this can also contribute to this process.
Small accomplishments --> more confidence / more feelings of self-efficacy --> increased ability to tackle big goals.
For those who have carved out a really big part of their life and dedicated it to cycling, this all may be innate to you. But if you don't consider yourself a "serious" cyclist but more of a recreational participant in the community, the path to psychological benefits might not be so obvious.
Many cyclists find themselves somewhere in between non-serious and aspiring-professional because you have career/other obligations that push cycling down on the priorities pecking order. For these in-betweeners, getting the most out of your time on the road is really important because chances are, it's relatively limited. This is the niche where I think the DIA fits in really well.
I have to mention here that this frame is absolutely suitable for professional athletes, as Anna Schwinn mentioned in this other piece about the DIA on Bike Rumor. What I'm saying is, I'm not an elite athlete, and I think the versatility of this frame allows it to be suitable for many different levels of riders.
When you get to the point in your cycling where you can justify investing in a masterful frame, you can optimize this decision by finding one that not only fulfills your geometric needs, but one that provides many options if you're even lightly considering competitive cycling.
When Andrew Reimann at VonHof told me what DIA stands for - Do It All - it all came full circle in my mind while considering all of the psychological benefits of cycling. Apart from the list of specs that makes this bike really something, it can even be a step that may help the right person “do it all”.
Firstly, the DIA aesthetic is a dream. Simply put, it looks incredibly strong. For me, there’s something synchronous and fulfilling about riding a bike that looks how you want to feel.
The team at VonHof has spent a lot of time conceiving their women’s bike (by and for). Even though the geometry of this bike is centered around the average woman cyclist, I greatly respect that when inquiring deeper into why this is a women's bike, VonHof stands by the theory that a cyclist’s physical frame is really what chooses the bike. If you find yourself visiting VonHof in Hoboken, you’ll be introduced to whatever frame is most appropriate for not necessarily your gender. but your physique.
In this respect, you cannot beat small business. This factor is also a serious contributor to the DIA being optimal for many types of cyclists. You can talk to the folks who made your bike, and whose life work is intertwined with ensuring your frame is nothing but ideal. It’s a tremendous part of choosing the right frame for you, and I highly recommend weighing this in your decision. The batches at VonHof are small, and the team there makes a point to talk extensively with each cyclist to ensure the frame is the right size and fit for them.
This bike was perfect for me -- I’m 5’5”, on the dense side, and love riding a bike that doesn’t require particularly gentle handling. Thanks to the Columbus Spirit frame and hexagonal top tube, the DIA is extremely light and almost felt delicate at first. I quickly realized that she’s quite the opposite, but manages to strike the perfect union between lightness and power.
There was something really special about this bike. Corny, sure, but what an absurdly fun set of wheels to borrow. Also, knowing that it’s inspired by women who want to win gives this bike some witchy can-do juju. Most special of all, every time I took the DIA out for a spin I thought, “I suppose I could race.. You know, with a bike like this.”
So, maybe if you’re questioning whether or not you want to make a leap into your first season racing, into a regular long-ride routine, or into some other endeavor altogether, consider whether the bike you ride makes you question the extent of your ability, and tips your confidence in the positive direction. Who knows, it might make all the difference.
-- Internal routing for Di2 electronic shifting
-- Columbus Spirit Triple butted tubes
-- Tapered head tube
-- PF30 bottom bracket
-- 28 mm tire capacity
-- Bold, lust-worthy frame
-- Light, intensely strong feel that doesn't demand delicate handling
-- Smooth, nimble handling. Very responsive feel.
-- I would not lock this bike up anywhere in NY and expect to find it when I returned.. too good-lookin'.
The rigidity of this frame is what makes it feel so powerful despite its lightness. To maximize on this, get your fitting done straight away. You should probably do this anyway but.. ++rigidity and a poor fit means a sore, sore butt.