Friday Group Ride #240

Friday Group Ride #240

I am, despite whatever lingering swash-buckling notions of myself I still might harbor, a serial monogamist. I had two high school girlfriends. I had three in college. The last became my wife. We’ve been together 22 years, and my eye does not wander. I write that, not in fear that she might be reading this, but rather to reinforce the idea that usually identify something I like (love, dear…love), and then I stick by it.

This has largely described my bike riding life, also. I tend to have just one bike that I ride every day, a road bike. I ride it for years. I commute on it. I ride it with friends. I ride it alone on weekends. I take it on vacation with me.

I had one mountain bike between 1996 and 2011. Now I’m not an every-day or even every-week mountain biker, so that’s not as dramatic a statement as it appears, but my point is that, despite collecting a fair number of two-wheeled machines over the years, I am pretty loyal to the bikes that I ride. Too many others have hung in my garage, collecting dust.

But a strange thing has happened in my cycling life recently. I added a “gravel” bike to my collection. This was a purpose-built bike, I thought. I would ride it in the woods. I would ride it on dirt roads. I might commute on it in winter, with studded tires.

Then I walked to the bottom of my basement stairs on a Tuesday.

My road bike and my gravel bike stand there, both facing the door, ready to go. The weather was clear, the road dry. The ride to work is five miles. I reached for the road bike and then stopped, thought for a moment, and then rolled the gravel bike out the door.

Here’s what I was thinking. First, the roads here (everywhere?) are terrible, pot-holed and patched and crumbling. The wider tires on the gravel bike are far more forgiving than the 25s on my road machine. The hand injury I gifted myself in the summer has left me a little weak on one side, so the more jolting I can avoid the better. That ties into my second thought, the disc brakes. A year ago I wouldn’t have told you I wanted a disc brake road bike. I still think discs are not necessary on the road here in New England, BUT there are days when I’m glad to have them.

And now I’m a two bike Robot.

This week’s Group Ride asks, are you faithful or are you a player? How many bikes do you own vs. the number you ride? Are you like me, your idea of what makes the perfect every day bike constantly evolving? Or are you sure of what you want and how you want it to look?

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34 comments

  1. peter leach

    My name is Peter.
    I have 7 bikes.
    I am a bike-aholic …
    Oops, thought I was introducing myself at a program meeting for recovering bike-aholics for a moment.
    I am an infrequent off-roader, so my mtb stays hanging on the wall most of the time.
    I am an infrequent track rider, so ditto for my track bike.
    I race less frequently than I used to, so my carbon road bike stays …
    I ride a titanium framed road bike with 25s most of the time and I’d have wider tyres if I could get them under my brake calipers.
    The rest of my bikes are ‘projects’ that I built up from time to time on my journey to my current stable, but now spend most of their time torn down and in drawers / on walls.
    I feel that I’m in the “… constantly evolving …” camp, but disc brakes are probably the only step on the current horizon. But that means a new frame, so I could try couplers …

    1. Sparty

      How many bikes for me…? Well, I road race so there is a Ridley Helium SL for that. I MTB race so there is a custom Niner for that. I cyclo-cross race so there is a Ridley X-Night for that. I train in wet and cold weather so there is a purposely built steel framed road bike with fenders for that. There is a fair weather training bike for the road (my old road racer)- which gets the most action in the Spring and Summer. There is a beat up mountain bike for training in the slop. There is a fixie for some base miles in the early spring and for roller rides when the roads are iced over. Finally, a fat tire Surly bike for gravel, snow, and to ride over anything in my path. Total bikes = 8 which may seem like over kill. However, I did have 10 at one point, but sold two to purchase the fat tire. My rationale: Like a skilled craftsman, you need the right tools for the job. Plus, bikes are just so freaking cool!

  2. Andrew

    I’m definitely a monogamist. One road bike, one gravel bike. I used to have two gravel bikes, one set up for commuting, but it bothered me that I wasn’t riding my Ti gravel bike as much as I wanted to, so now I just have two sets of wheels for that and keep one set up for road and one gravel. I sold the other one.

    I have weird issues about “using things”. It’s a “grandchild of immigrants/Great Depression survivors” kind of thing, I suspect.

  3. Aaron Thomas Smith

    For a very long time I was a one-bike type a guy, but only because I was a broke college drop-out and had no other option. It was aluminum, carbon fork, Tiagra, etc… It did just about everything it ever needed to do.

    Now I’m up to like… 5?

    It’s stressful.

  4. Craig P

    I have 2 road bikes. I have a Masi PC4 road bike that got me back into cycling after a multi year detour into other things. First good carbon bike I’ve ever owned. I did a bunch of customizing to it to suit my needs ( and for fun ). I just built a Roubaix with Shimano Di2 and hydraulic brakes. The Masi is my flat road / bike trail bike. The Roubaix is my steep road bike” Super Bike ” ( and there are plenty of steep up and down roads here in Northern California ). I enjoy riding both. And I always have a back up bike just in case something happens to one of them. Who knows – I might build a 3rd one some day !

  5. Brian s

    i own 2 road bikes and a mountain bike. I haven’t used the mountain bike in years. I used my Seven axiom ti bike all winter, on vacation, and whenever the roads are wet or in bad shape. I use it in races with rough roads. I use my dogma think 2 whenever the weather is good and the roads aren’t in terrible shape. Both bikes have similar components other than wheels with the seven having hed belgium + and the dogma having ENVE 3.4. I have been thinking about another carbon road bike to use for most races but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I have also been thinking about a TI gravel of cross bike with discs. It’s only a matter of time

  6. Miles Archer

    How many bikes in the garage, or how many do I ride? One I ride, another 5 gathering dust. To be fair, two of the others are for my wife and daughter. My daughter has outgrown her bike and will ride one of mine on the rare occasions she wants to ride someplace.

  7. Pat O'Brien

    One mountain, one road, one city/commuter (and old ’94 930 Trek Singletrack) and one touring bike. I ride all of them at least once a month, the mountain and road get the most miles. If I had to sell all but one, I would keep the touring bike. I like discs. If my road and touring bike had caliper mounts, I would convert them to disc, probably the new TRP Spyre brakes. But buying a whole new frame and wheels just to change, nah.

  8. Tom

    Three: IRO single speed for bad roads and bad weather rides (37 mm tires); Pogliaghi for commuting and riding to ball games; Bob Jackson with Campy 10-speed for, I haven’t completely decided yet. But my wife and I just bought a Cannonade Tandem 29, and three rides together on it and we’re thinking about all the places we can go…

  9. Alan

    1. Allez, my training/racing main horse
    2. Adventurer Foldie, for my daily commute
    3. Rockhopper for MTB XC riding/racing
    4. Old Felt B2 TT for my main discipline
    5. 1988 Jamis Diablo for riding to fun downtown functions and the grocery store
    6. 1980 Trek set up on the trainer for the snowy days

    Would add a full squish MTB for the technical descending but have too many other real things to fix (20 year old cars).

    I may have lots of bikes but I keep them and my cars forever. Oh, and the wife too, as she tolerates all this.

  10. Jim P.

    I am most definitely faithful, so then I presume that I’m some sort of cyclopolygamist. 6 bikes and they all get at least some use, save for the tandem that sits idle until I can find someone foolhardy enough to ride with me. I could pare this down though. I just acquired my first cross bike and am having wicked amounts of fun on it. Should conditions warrant, I could get rid of the others and just change tires to suit the ride. That is, I could divest of all the others except my custom steel road bike. That bike is the closest I’ll ever get to still owning my first good bike, which was sold, never to return. The custom was my first, and still only custom bike, and it will be buried with me.

  11. Timojhen

    I’m with the five or more crowd. Could list them all, but likely the list wouldn’t be current for long. I tend to get fascinated with something (single speed 29er? Haven’t had one of those yet!) – try it for a while and sometimes move on. Sometimes not.

    To the extent this is the thing I do – I’m okay with that. Hobby, fitness, passion…. my commuter is the bike which gets the most mileage, but it may not be the one I’m most passionate about. Things like disc will likely change the mix – already seeing the middle ground between some disc & some not as somewhere I don’t want to be forever…..

  12. Bruce Mackey

    I have three bikes I ride pretty regularly. The tandem is self-explanatory, I ride that with my wife when we are out together. It does a wonderful job. I have a “regular” road bike for the majority of my cycling. After may years and bikes I’ve finally got a Waterford that fits me perfectly and rides like a dream.
    My last bike is a Bike Friday I got many years ago used because I traveled. I recently got it refurbished and find myself riding it for short “fun” rides and errands. The tires are a little wider than my Waterford and it’s easier to mount and dismount, (I’m getting to that age now).
    I love all my bikes for their particular advantages.

  13. Dave

    One road bike, a Rich Adams fillet brazed steel frame and fork, and one DeSalvo titanium gravel grinder which gets mostly road use because my wife and I ride together and gravel riding scares her so she doesn’t do it. She has a Serotta Fierte with a Christopher Igleheart New England segmented fork (gorgeous and light fork – Reynolds 853). She has no desire to have another bike, so together we have three.

  14. Justin

    I’ve moved through various bikes and frames and parts over the years I’ve been riding since I like to tinker and change things so most definitely not monogamous. But up until the last couple years I mostly just had 1 or 2 bikes at a time (mostly road and commuter). Now after working at a shop for a couple years I have 5 and probably a bit of an bike addiction problem… I’m also lucky enough to have great road riding and mountain biking and CX riding (not much gravel but tons of fire roads/dirt roads provided you have the gearing) right out my door as well as a quick 3 minute commute to my work so do ride pretty much all of them save for the dirt jumper at least once a week or so, even if it’s just a quick jaunt.

  15. Stra

    I have a Quiver:
    S-Works Tarmac. #1 go to, ridden almost daily. Raced and trained on with great affection.
    Giant TCX cross bike. Usually does about a dozen gravel loops a year, usually in winter.
    Giant XTC mtb. Fast, light and rarely ridden or raced. Always fun though.
    Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. Cherished Antique. Ridden only on special occasions.

  16. MickR

    OK! I know what I want now, after so many years of multi-bike/single purpose machines. I need 3 bikes, ideal:
    Race (train) – presently 2013 C’dale Super 6
    Commute – my old Cannondale CAD now a single speed
    Multi-Pave/go anywhere/CX – This is what I do not have right now … but need.
    But you knew that. This is the new big category, right? But it is so enticing. I go out on big touring rides on the race bike and keep coming up on gravel that looks awesome. I am ditching my MTB because to be honest, it is like a completely different sport anymore. MTB rigs are not even in the same universe as lovely, traditional bikes and the reality is my old body can’t do all that downhill full suspension stuff anymore. Trails, smooth-ish ones, and rough roads though – I’m into it. I want to explore. So yes, I want a ti or steel “gravel” bike, with rack braze-ons, CX-type geometry and disc brakes, definitely.

  17. DavidA

    I own 1 road bike which I ride all the time. I have it and a couple sets of bombproof wheels and nothing super light or carbon. Having lived and raced in Belgium and Holland in the 1980’s for almost 5 yrs you saw 2 different schools of thought…2 road bikes built up almost identical to switch out in case of a mechanical or 1 nice bike and some sets of bombproof wheels that your dad or wife or supporter carried around the course in case you flatted. I always did the 1 bike 2 sets of wheels thing.

  18. Gal

    I am not that loyal..
    Only three bikes these days, one of them a mountain bike is waiting for me in another place where one actually can go into the mountain and ride it for real, unfortunately it’s in another country and it happen about once a year and for few weeks at a time.
    Another is a gravel, touring travel bike which I ride almost everyday, commute on and sometime when possible pack into a case and take to far away places.
    And last but not least is the road bike I ride few time a week for training, racing and group rides.
    Oh … And another mountain bike on the way, just because …

    *None of these is older then 5 years but they all keepers, they also replaced other keepers not older then 5 years.

  19. RM2Ride

    To quote The Rules, by the Velominati: “The right number of bikes is always n+1 and p-1, where n= the number of bikes you currently own and p= the number of bikes at which your partner will leave.”

    My stable makes me smile:
    – Road (Seven 622) gets the most use, as it should, hands down
    – Mountain (mid-oughts Stumpjumper bought on the cheap from my brother-in-law) for that occasion the trails beckon
    – Tandem (Craig’s List special, nothing special) for knocking about town with partner or daughter
    – Single speed (converted Serotta T-Max from the early 90s when I bought it for a song without any idea what I was really getting) also for knocking about town
    – Cross (a LeMond Poprad frame a friend gave me, still in “project” designation)
    – Commuter (Civia Kingfield belt drive) because belt drive is cool
    – Old steel stallion (1986 Cilo) which I can’t ever get rid of – how could I? – because it saved my life by showing me the glories of the open roads
    – Unicycle. Because unicycle.

    All of them get ridden, time to time at least. All produce joy.

  20. Steve Barner

    I like classic bikes, and ride 8-10k a year, so I cycle through almost all of my four dozen or so bikes. The one that gets ridden the most is a steel Bianchi entry-level racer that turned 30 this year and is equpped with fenders and a rack (and Japanese components–shudder) that is my primary commuting bike. For fast, fun rides I’ll ususally select some classic super bike of the 1980s. If I’m on a fast group ride, it will likely be some composite thing, but that would be an atypical selection if I were going out by myself. There are five bikes I ride the most, along with a tandem, another six or so that get out of the stables regularly (along with a couple more tandems), and the rest get out once or twice a year, maybe. There are a couple that never get ridden , for one reason or another, but a bike has to be something very unusual for it to find a place on my quite limited wallspace. I like to match the bike of the day with the route, weather and road, but I also adhere to the “any bike, any road, any time” philosophy. It gets me in trouble sometimes.

  21. Tom in Albany

    I have ’99 Serotta CTi in that is my everyday roadbike. I have a ’01 Trek Fuel ’98 that is my go-to mountain bike.

    I have my ’89 Schwinn roadbike and my ’96 Mongoose mtn bike. They are NEVER ridden. They hang in the basement as dim and distant memories. I bought a SS conversion kit off Nashbar for the Mongoose. Still haven’t done anything with it.

    I’m a hardcore monogamist. Hell, I’m so hardcore, I even pined after my college girlfriend for a couple of years after she dumped me. Those bikes of mine aren’t going anywhere….

  22. Dale A

    Own 2 bikes, ride one. Daily ride is my dream bike, 2009 Cervelo R3. Second bike is a 1986 Schwinn Paramount, which was my dream bike until 2009. I only ride the Paramount on special occasions, like the Waterford Bike factory tour ride. The Paramount was made in that factory and Richard Schwinn loves it when riders show up with bikes made there.

  23. MattC

    Three bikes: my weekend ‘fast’ road bike (a 09 Cdale CAAD-9), my travel road bike (which gets all the after-work evening rides (a Ritchey Breakaway), and my 03 Santa Cruz Blur MTB (which I’m currently saving up a stupid amount of $ to replace w/ most likely an Ibis Ripley niner). Three is the answer to the P-1 part of the equation, otherwise I would assuredly have more.

  24. Full Monte

    One bike most of the time. Seven saddles. These get changed out, depending on my level of fitness and which part of my body is in the most pain. So the bike feels different, depending. Kinda like having a partner with a drawer full of lingerie and assorted sexy bits. It feels a little naughty, like cheating, but it’s not.

    1. kurti_sc

      Wow Full Monte, I have never heard of routinely swapping out saddles on a bike to change the feel. That’s pretty interesting.

      I believe most, myself included, only change a saddle to get it comfortable and then leave it. I even subscribe to the theory of taking my saddle with me. I’ve done that on bikes before. when i sold one and got a new one, I put my old saddle on it. That’s probably flawed, too, but it makes me feel like I know something – like there MUST be a good reason for ditching a perfectly good brand new saddle for some ol piece that’s been around the block.

  25. LateSleeper

    I was raised to believe you can’t get rid of something until you’ve worn it out. Bikes are quite difficult to wear out, so I have four.

    My current favorite is the Seven Elium SL road bike that accumulates 80% of my yearly mileage. It took over from a Trek 5200, bought back when “going Postal” was something Lance did. The Trek gets still taken out on lunchtime rides occasionally, because it’s stiffer and a bit lighter than the Seven, but I no longer use it for rides longer than 30 miles. At that rate, I’ll have to keep it forever. If only a tree would fall on it, I’d replace it with some carbon fiber wonder bike from Alchemy, but by the time that happens I’ll probably be too old to appreciate anything that fast.

    In the far corner of the garage is an old Schwinn hard tail that I bought to ride the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands NP. I’ve taken it just enough other trips to prove that: a) I’m a really terrible mountain biker, b) an elastomeric front shock is no match for Moab’s Slickrock trail, and consequently c) I should leave it in the garage where it belongs.

    There’s a hole where the fourth bike should be. My cross / utility bike was a casualty of a high school girl who hopefully learned a lesson after I T-boned her rear quarter panel at 24 mph. Six weeks later, I am in remarkably good shape, but my Specialized Tricross sits in pieces, waiting for the insurance payout. The sad thing is, most of the impact was absorbed by the fork, which means that according to “the rules” I have to repair the darn thing rather than simply replacing it with something that weighs less than a tractor.

  26. Jonathan

    I’ve got a bunch of bikes, but only ride two.

    Steel commuter with shimergo for the daily grind.
    Custom steel roadie with fat tyres for road and gravel weekend rides.

    One day when the kids are grown and I have time I’ll get me a mtb.

  27. Dave T

    If I count the fully assembled bikes then 4. For mountain biking a Specialized Epic. For the road a Cervelo R5. I keep my old Litespeed at the office in case I actually get time to do a noon ride. And for riding with my son a tandem trike. I split my riding almost equally between 3 of them, the Epic, R5 and the tandem trike. The Litespeed mostly sits in the corner of my office reminding me that I need to ride more.

  28. David

    How many bikes I have depends on who’s counting 😉

    I have a MTB that I bought used, years ago when I thought I would get into trail riding. That did not work out as I spent more time flying over my handlebars and off my bike than in the saddle and in control. When strangers say to you “did that hurt as much as it looked like it did?”, its time to rethink your life.

    I have an old Richard Sachs I got 20+ years ago that I have logged so many miles on. I am one with this bike.

    Then there is the custom frame with couplers that I thought I would travel with a lot but have discovered its easier to bring my shoes, helmet and kit and rent the rest wherever I am.

    Now I have a used carbon frame which compared to all the others is as light as a feather and I ride faster than I have ever before. I love it.

    So by my count I have one bike

  29. justin from Chicago

    3 Bikes – a Classic road bike, heavy for when I ride with the wife. 1972 Schwinn Le Tour II. Race Road bike Cervelo R3, best bike I can afford. Cross/Gravel/Winter/Mountain bike 2012 Cannondale Caadx. The road bike gets used the most but I have the most fun on the cross bike because I will literally ride it in and over everything with my WTB Nano 40C’s. Depending on my tire choice that bike will do it all.

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