Any cycling purist has this issue from time to time. That issue is called the bike dilemma. The bike dilemma plagues every cyclist that owns several bikes. You see, cyclists, in general, do tend to own numerous bikes. As a matter of fact, any person I have ever met that considers themselves a cyclist has at least 3 bicycles.
Non-riding folk may ask, “Why der you need so many of dem bishuckles?” There are a few responses to this question available to the cyclist. Off the top of my head I can think of a few.
- I mountain bike, ride in road rides and commute, therefore I have three bikes tailored to each job.
- I like bikes.
- I am a cycling hoarder.
I think I fall into all these categories, but the last one gives me a smile. The reason being is that most of us cyclists love gadgets, the latest and greatest. We have several lighting devices in a box from trying to find the one that worked best. Our tool boxes are full of not only tools to work on the bikes but spare parts “just in case”. Many of these spares are used. We also have a bag of saddles purchased over time, from trying to find the one that hurt our back end the least. I am sure several people save their old tubes as well. I know I have two in the garage that are perfectly fine, I changed them after 1.5 seasons. I just have not gotten around to tossing them in the garbage can yet. I have a collection of tires. A few mountain bike tires and a few road bike tires. All with mileage still left in them.
We all like new things. When you have ADD, it is a bit….oh shiny new thing! See, we all like them. You can call yourself frugal all you want, but when you finally decide on the new purchase, you love what you got. We all like new things in our lives, some just indulge in it more than others. After a while, a person ends up owning numerous bicycles.
This is where the problem is. Significant others can get tired of the bikes stacking up in the garage, or in my case, in the house. Yes, I have a room where I keep my bicycles, is that okay with you? Admit it, you are jealous. Well, that or you think I am borderline insane. In the end it does not matter. To a non-cyclist, we are all borderline insane. Roadies flying down the streets in lycra, hipsters on their fixed geared bicycle with no brakes, mountain bike riders with more bruises and scars than a person after a car wreck, yes we are all insane to a typical person. That is fine by us, we like what we do.
Yet there is still the debate on the number of bikes. Yes, my little case of ADD leads me all over at times, but be patient, sooner or later I will get there. Oh! Shiny blue thing!!! Just kidding. So how many bikes does a person need? Honestly, that depends on the person. Some people are quite content with just one bicycle. To some people, the one bicycle is a gift from a family member that sits in the garage and rarely gets a leg thrown over it. That is fine, one bike is the limit for that person. Others may do extensive research and put a lot of thought into the purchase of the bicycle. In the end they get what they want and stick with it for years. The problem arises when a person wants to do two different things with a bicycle.
Take my situation for example.
I purchased a cheap mountain bike from a friend because I was wanting to have a bike again that was not a BMX bike. I ended up putting slicks on it since the tires were rotted, I cleaned up the bike and road it all over. I decided I was loving life on the bicycle, therefore I needed a proper bicycle for the road. Let me also say that I was interested in participating in a local MS150 ride, so 150-miles on a road bike sounded good. I talked my wife into it and I had a brand new roadie in my garage. It was beautiful. I loved it. My average speed went up dramatically and I felt like I was flying. So the mountain bike sat for a little while. Then my friend found out what I was doing. He disclosed to me that he mountain biked. I told him I had one in the garage. We arranged a ride and I went out to get some knobbies for the bike. I crashed big time on the ride, but I was hooked. Again, I went to my wife to seek permission for another bike (she keeps me in line with bicycles). She agreed if I sold the old bike. So on the net it went and it was out of the door in two weeks. I purchased a shiny new 29-er hardtail. If you are lost, Google is your friend (a reoccurring theme in my blogs, huh?). So we went out riding again and I was insanely faster. Then again, going from a full rigid front fork to a bike with front suspension does help.
Then one day I wanted a fixed gear. The bike intrigued me in its simplicity. As a present, I picked one up from the shop. It is a blast to ride. No gears means less to think about. Running a single speed is nice because you have a nice and beefy chain and you do not have to worry about the chain stretch you get on a geared bike (as much). I was enjoying that bike so much it was my commuter.
I was mountain biking more and more. The trails near me are covered with more roots than there are fish in the sea. I was being beaten up by the trail, and loved it. Yet I was struggling to keep up with my friends at times. One has an ultra high end (a.k.a. light) 29-er hardtail, and the other has a full-suspension 26″. So I started looking around. I ended up deciding that a full-suspension rig would be an amazing purchase. I would reduce the amount of energy used fighting the roots and just roll right over them. Brilliant!!!
So there went my motorcycle. I sold it and immediately turned the cash around to pay for my new mountain bike (did I really just do that?). The suspension helped immensely. I was gliding over things that used to give me trouble. It was pure bliss. I will admit, I do miss my motorcycle sometimes, but out on the trail it is more like “what motorcycle?”
Counting the bikes so far: 1 road bike, 1 fixie, 2 mountain bikes. Uh oh, two mountain bikes. After discovering that my hardtail and full suspension bikes weighed almost exactly the same, I decided 100-percent that I did not need to keep the hardtail for trail use. What to do? Simple, improvise! Off the knobbies went and I dropped some 700x35c tires on it (can we say instant hybrid?). So now I have a mountain bike with road tires. I figured that would be good endurance training for the Leadville 100 (Google it). No I am not competing in it, but it is on my bucket list. I took it out for a ride and my hands were killing me. I snagged some bar ends (new things!). That helped with my hands. Well the fixed gear is not as comfortable as this bike, so on goes a rear rack as well. My new commuter is the mountain bike.
Now here is one dilemma. Not only do I have four bicycles that I love in a different way, I am not sure what to do with the fixie. It only gets a leg thrown over it when I am too lazy to get my clipless shoes for the mountain bike hybrid (which as of today is no longer a problem). A part of me wants to sell it, but a part of me does not. There are days where riding that bike is perfect. Often it sits, but when I do ride it I love it.
Yes, I may just keep it. While I am at it, I have been looking into commuting bicycles (yet another dilemma). The FX+ in the Trek line has me curious. A motor that is pedal assisting to help tame those headwinds; also picking up the slack when your legs are a little worn out from the hard ride the day before. Wow, that is something. That would be very useful for my little rides to the hardware store, grocery store, even the bicycle shop! So my dilemma is I have no other motorcycle to sell to get this bike. This bike is $2500. Do I need it? No. Do we really need any of the toys we own? No, I do not need it, but I want it bad. I can live without several things, but my bicycles are not one of them. They are my stress relievers. I go out on a ride and I feel good. I have even thought about commuting to work, so the FX+ would be perfect for that! I would have to get rid of a bike. I know if I were forced to do it, the fixie would be gone.
You see, that is problem cyclists have. We grow attached to our bikes. You have memories with that bike. My road bike and I have been on 2 MS150 rides and logged hundreds of miles of training rides together. My full suspension mountain bike helped me fly through the local trails faster than I ever have in the past. My hardtail brought me my first mountain bike race, and now is a great bike to run errands on. The fixie is great in its simplicity and giving you a connected feel to the bike unlike any other bike out there. Cyclists form bonds like these to their bikes which make them hard to give up. Therefore it is just easier to purchase a new one than sell off an old one.
So non-cyclists, please understand that we are a weird group of people. We love our bikes just like some people love clothes, or a car they just restored to like-new condition, or music. We love this hobby, or should I say lifestyle. Lifestyle suits the situation so much more than saying hobby.
So I say to the non-cyclists out there:
Do I need a new bicycle? No I do not. Please understand that bicycles are a huge part of what and who I am. So just like saddles, I am simply trying to find a bike that suits me better. This is a process and it takes time. In the process we collect bikes along the way, just like saddles and lights. So please try to deal with me and my constant desire to find a bike that is more me.