Dream Bikes

TCXAdamAdam Craig on the Gian TCX Advanced

“I saw my dream bike today.”

How many of us have said that? How many of us say it a couple times a year? For some of us it is a mantra.

It was my 7-year old daughter who uttered those words, without reservation, to my wife following her first trip to the bike shop to buy new handgrips for her 20-inch wheeled bike.

“You sound just like your father,” said my wife. Of course. I am a cyclist.

The object of my daughter’s desire was a 24-inch bike. It had a single chainring up front and a derailleur in the back – technological progress from her singlespeed. The color was a blue-grey fade, which gave it a look of joyful utility rather than a bike matched to the one-legged Barbie doll that haunts our mud room. Her dream bike had a simple steel fork, like her current bike. The tires were semi-slick and promised to reward effort with speed. Most importantly, it is bigger. That is the foundation of what a child asks of cycling: A smile.

For adults, it is more complicated. More so that it is dream-bike season. Eurobike’s siren song calls to us after we resurface into regular life after giving a month to the Tour de France. This is a moment when we ought to be bound to our bicycles with Velox rim tape so that we are not allowed to lose precious hours sitting in front of a screen staring at the bikes we should be out riding.

Now that my life affords less and less time for as much riding as I desire, I dream of really nice bikes more and more often. The carbon Santa Cruz Highball. A steel Seven Mudhoney. The Cervelo R5. Think of the 50-mile races in Vermont! The beer hand-ups! Riding L’Etape du Tour! The happy binds of daily life make these visions, often coming as I am trying to fall asleep, that much more of an escape.

My dream bikes change with my mood or my outlook on the day. It’s been this way for a long time. Before I could drive, I dreamt of owning rally cars like Audi’s ’84 Coupe Quattro. When I got around to buying my first car, it lacked all-wheel drive, race heritage or a turbocharger’s feral hiss. Instead it had roll-up windows and manual locks and barely enough horsepower to make it through Colorado’s Eisenhower Tunnel. Reliability, not rally nous, won the day. Twelve years later it is still driven daily.

Though the bicycle industry is working towards a one-bike quiver, a machine capable of keeping up with a 25 m.p.h. paceline one day and bombing a rutted gravel descent with the surefootedness that only comes from hydraulic disc brakes and fat rubber. This means it’s a great moment for looking inward at not just what you want to buy, but why. I don’t want a bike like my Honda Accord. I want one like the Coupe Quattro that I never owned – or even drove.

If you could only have one bike would it be a multifaceted machine capable of, literally, any wheeled adventure you dream up? That is what Eurobike appears to be offering up as a preview of next year’s bikes. Or would it be a purpose-built machine with a soul that comes from a singularity of design and intent?

I can speak to the merits of both. I had a jack-of all trades Bridgestone X0-2 that once spent a night in the hands of Corsican thieves. After years of hard duty in West Philadelphia, it retired to a sedate life out back of a friend’s condo backyard in Palo Alto, nestled next to a hot tub. My Redline Conquest Pro, a cyclocross race machine that today looks like it might give me a tetanus infection if I botch a dismount, time and time again continues to free me from writer’s block. It was bought in the weeks following 9/11.

My daughter has yet to think about these questions. We want bikes as complicated as our lives. She wants one as simple as hers. She never asks who designed her bike, or if the tubing is butted, or if she should be on disc brakes next season. She rides her bike because it makes her smile. That is its most important feature.

I also know if she sticks with cycling like I hope she will, someday she too will be thinking of her dream bike. With the way our society is advancing, and bike technology with it, that dream bike may well be her very first one.

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  1. Emil

    I’d have to say that today I raced on my dream bike. I rode the Kick It Cross in Ft Collins, CO on my Moots Cyclo-X with discs. It was the first time I’d been able to race this bike and…it is a dream. I really would choose this as my one (God forbid!) bike.

  2. Ted

    The bike that is still “of my dreams” is the blue Fuji Sports 10 that was my 11th birthday present. It is hands down the best material gift I have ever received. It was cool looking (to me) and represented that thing that kids cherish above all else: freedom. I rode it to death for a few years. I rue the fact that it took me until three years ago to get back on a bike. I regret not knowing what my life would have been like with bikes as companions for the last three decades. However, I also have been giddy for the last three years every time I get on my bikes. Yeah, the Tarmac and Speed Concept make me feel young, but nothing will ever replace that Sports 10 in my dreams….

  3. MikeG

    I shudder to think what I might give up to have my Bridgestone “Zip” back again! Then there’s the BH G4 that I test rode for a morning – fit like an aged pair of Levi’s after a single 1/4″ adjustment of the saddle…I’m not sure I could pick just one!

  4. Wisco

    The problem is always focusing on the N+1 bike as your dream bike. If you’re really passionate about cycling, I’ll be you’ll figure out that something in your stable is already your dream bike for the memories you have shared.

  5. Jack

    Have to admit my Kent Eriksen ti cross bike is filling so many niches. With road tires, the 148 mile B2B ride was still comfortable. Cross tires make dirt roads and mild trails a blast. Racing cross is just plain fun! Won’t take the place of the full suspension mtb on the nasty stuff, but for everything else, I keep reaching for ‘Kent’.

  6. slappy

    my Niner Sir9, steel hard tail 29’r. can and have run 25c’ and drops, fenders and racks, toured, single speeded, now it’s got a 4-5″ talas, 8 in discs, 2.5 minion’s a 3×9 drivetrain and it loves schralping anything and everything in telluride, above tree line to the house, wet or dry, the most fun party animal of a bike i’ve ever been proud to call my own

  7. August Cole

    We all have them, then. Slappy, that sounds like a great set-up out in Colorado. Might be a great way to just have a lot of fun around here in Boston too. Wisco, you’re spot on. The N+1 should be about means, not as an end itself. The acquisition of another bike for its own sake is fun, but only for a bit. The bikes are a vehicle, literally, for good times. What kind does not matter. That’s what my daughter knows, and really all of us do too. That’s why I can live with riding ah ‘well-worn’ bikes. Dreaming about a new one is really dreaming about more time to ride them, not adding more stuff to my garage.

  8. Derek

    I would like to thank Melissa Miller for letting me borrow her bike to ride the downhill in Cairns. I do think it helped me set the bike up better for her so in that regard it was useful, but to loan your race bike days ahead of Worlds to someone who you knew was going to take it as fast as possible down that course was an awesome gesture and an act of faith. It was fun and it was fast and maybe the perfect bike only exists for a moment in time. Thanks again.

  9. hackintheback

    I already own my dream bike, for now anyway. My steel Seven that has seen me through thousands of miles and that I always come back to for long days in the saddle or for when I need the kind of “restorative” ride that is freed from concerns about speed or wattage or hanging on to the hard-charging pack.

    The bike I dream about instead is the bike I’ll buy for my 7 year-old daughter – a bike that sounds very much like the one your daughter covets. Single chainring up front, gears in the back, larger & faster tires, etc. She’s become a proficient rider this past summer, and the joy I see in her experiencing the freedom that only a bicycle can provide has me dreaming of the places I’ll be able to go with her once she has it in her stable. She hasn’t even given thought to a “dream bike” yet, given that she’s so flush with excitement and happiness to just be on her current bike, but I have.

  10. Alan

    I rode the Kick It CX TT with Emil, but on a heavy steel 1989 Jamis Diablo, my first mountain bike. Still a fun ride, albeit heavy.

    I don’t know that I’ll ever have ONE dream bike. I like many for many different things when they do it well. The Jamis climbs like a champ, but the pounding of roots on a rigid steel was too much for my arms and wrists. So I upgraded to a 1995 Rockhopper which I still race on.

    I don’t yet have a CX bike. I have a very old 1980 Trek Touring bike and a newer Specialized Allez Sport and a TT bike for my primary discipline.

    I love them all.

  11. Tom in albany

    A dream bike? I don’t have such flights of fancy. I bought a titanium Serotta (RIP) back in my single days. Truthfully, I never have to buy another bike. I simply replace worn parts. While it’s quill stem and late-90s geometry are a dead giveaway, it’s a great ride. I don’t race. I ride. Mostly, I commute now. Two young kids combined with the desire to spend as much time as possible with them while they’re willing to spend time with me is the deal. So, my dream bike is the one that will get my 5-year old daughter off the outriggers and have the whole family riding two wheels!!!!!

  12. Dolan H

    My dream bike when I was younger was always a Calfee Tetra. I saw a LeMond Team Z version hanging in a shop in Bozeman, MT when I was in my early 20s and thought it was just about the coolest thing ever.

    20+ years later I found a Tetra frameset on eBay, bid on it expecting not to win, and was pleasantly surprised. I built up the rest with older Dura-Ace (still love my 7410 crankset). I really love the bike. It’s light, comfortable, and beautiful.

    Moral of the story… wait long enough and you can probably afford your dream bike 🙂

  13. Pingback: Dream bikes | August Cole

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