Friday Group Ride #411

Friday Group Ride #411

I was talking to a bike industry guy the other day, the kind of guy who’s been around a long time, who can recall product specs from things that barely saw the light of day, a guy with a dream/nightmare basement, the home of things extremely valuable, but only to a vanishingly small number of bike nerds. He confessed/boasted to me that he had 5 Vitus road frames. They were all to be substrates for the various, complete Mavic gruppos he’d hoarded. Sean Kelly much?

It became apparent as we spoke that he’d long ago moved on from his French aluminum predilection, leaving those frames to sit in the basement alongside all manner of exotic bike history apocrypha. For a period, he said, he was stockpiling Mavic wheels for a reason he couldn’t clearly articulate. I was impressed with his ability to run through models and variations on models of various bikes I’d once wanted. What was more stunning, because I’ve encountered bike “collectors” before, was that this particular example seemed entirely calm, normal, and well-adjusted, rather than erratic, hyperactive, and ostentatiously verbose. Most of these guys (they are ALL guys) are over-amped and just about able to converse with normal humans.

I have one friend who collects rear derailleurs like a British eccentric might collect exotic butterflies, pinning them to canvas sheets or making painstaking drawings of their impossible wings alongside various, scrawled Latin notations. I have another friend who claims to have a floor-to-ceiling cabinet filled with Campy 10-speed groups. He has the market cornered, assuming there is a market.

None of these men has children. One has a dog. This is just data.

For myself, perhaps it is the ameliorating influence of a wife and kids, the scattering influence of low-level ADD, or a simple lack of time, but I have not managed to dig too deep a bike nerd niche at my own home. I once had 8 or 10 bikes. Now I have fewer. My parts bin has gone thin and practical. Don’t get me wrong, the packed basements of the modern bike hoarder are really fascinating, even exciting to me. I love to sift through that stuff, the way I used to thumb a deck of baseball cards, as a twelve-year-old, evaluating each face for scarcity, value, and charm, or the way I’d comb the piles and stacks of record and bookstores when I was in college. I do love that idea that there is treasure to be found and appreciated.

This week’s Group Ride asks if you’re one of these people. Have you fixated on a brand, model, or specific product and acquired far more than you could reasonably ride or appreciate yourself? Do you know anyone like this? And even if you never did, what one bike thing, if you did have that kind of time and money, would you squirrel away in your basement/shed/warehouse/bomb shelter?

Image: CycleTech

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  1. Skinny Ankles

    I used to have quite the collection of bikes and wheels which I rode the snot out of. I never had stuff that I collected but didn’t use.

    If I ever start squirreling away equipment it would be Miguel Indurain era TVTs, Pinarellos and Pegorettis.

  2. Josh

    Married with two fur kids and zero human kids. I’m mainly fixated on two brands, both beginning with S, though my general theme is SOPWAMTOS bikes (those actually manufactured by the company with the name on the bike). I only collect bikes I actually ride, except for the frames not currently built.

  3. Aar

    I’m not one of these people. The LBS where I shop is owned by one of these people and the shop is filled with vintage bikes. Apparently he has more stashed in various locations. I just wouldn’t squirrel away any bike or gear. However, the Specialized/McLaren Tarmac, a DiNucci and a Crumpton each have a certain appeal. I really only want two road bikes simultaneously and would unload them when I stopped riding them. If my office is ever outside my home again, I might want to add a commuter bike with a rack, belt and internal gearing. The other “excess of bike stuff” I’d like to indulge in would be a quiver of wheels so that I may constantly match the wheels to the ride terrain.

  4. Grego

    Well, I have at least eight Rollamajigs. My stash of 26″ Fire XC Pro tires might also never get used up–at least not by me. And I have a dozen frame pumps in various lengths and states of repair. But that’s not quite the kind of collection you meant…

  5. Tominalbany

    My stash is small and, essentially, useless. It consists of purchases never used. I’m not a hoarder. I don’t think I ever will be a hoarder. That said, I suck at throwing things away or moving them to better homes.

    Accidental hoarder?

  6. Stephen Barner

    When people ask how many bikes I have, I typically reply “at least four.” That odd response usually ends the discussion, because I don’t audibly add “dozen.” Most people ask only because they’ve heard that I have a lot of bikes (or noticed that I’m usually riding one they haven’t seen before), and, like those who like to toss out the term “hoarder,” they’re really looking for a way to feel superior by casting some action of another as somehow deviant. I don’t have a lot of bikes to please other people, I have them because they are interesting to me. The vast majority of the bikes I have were top machines of their day and most are ones that I never had the chance to ride, let alone own, in their day. It’s fine by me that most people don’t value them now, as that makes them all that more affordable.

    I try not to be the annoying guy that Robot described. In fact, I don’t draw attention to my stash of bikes and parts. I don’t obsess over keeping everything “correct” for a bike, though I understand those who do. I will casually attempt to do so, but it’s natural for a bike that is ridden to become a mongrel as parts are replaced.

    I don’t consider myself to be a “collector.” I have a friend who concentrates on bikes by American custom builders and his collection is quite interesting. I have bikes that are my size (small), are among the best from that manufacturer, and usually have some personal interest. A bike I obtain also needs to be in excellent condition and at a very good price. I have only a few bikes that I don’t ride at all, like the bikes a couple had custom made for them in Montreal in the late 1930s and traded in on a pair of mountain bikes, and the Raleigh track bike made with aero 753 tubing — talk about rare. I don’t put a lot of miles on the Campagnolo Neutral Support bike for the 1984 Olympics, even though it’s just a steel Serotta with Murray decals, or a couple other bikes that are in like-new shape–I’ll typically pick a similar bike with some miles on it for a regular ride. I do make an attempt to get each bike out at least once a year. Riding 7k to 10k miles makes it pretty easy.

    Someday I’ll have to sell off all of these bikes, and there would be a lot of wisdom in culling the herd so that I didn’t have to move bikes every time I want to do something. For now, though, I enjoy picking out the bike of the day, considering where I’m riding, who with, and what the weather is going to be. Most of the fleet dates from the early 1970s to about 10 years ago, and each can put my mind in a different place. The beauty of bicycles is that they ride the same at 30 as they did when brand new. The dirty little secret of the bike biz is that there’s not really all that much difference in performance between a new bike and one that’s decades old, especially outside competition, if you’ve developed the requisite operator skill to ride a friction and the hand strength to work single-pivot brakes.

  7. Lucien Walsh

    2010 Gary Fisher X-Cal 29er
    2004 Seven Cycles Axiom Steel, re-christened Resolute SLX after a frame replacement in 2013

    Do I want more? Would I love a big company carbon bike as much after 5 years as I would in the first month? I suppose I’ll never know, because it would be a pricey bike indeed to eclipse the handling and ride quality of the Seven, even with the extra weight so at this point in my life that question is academic.

  8. Bryin

    I buy new stuff… and then get rid of the old… I keep 2 road bikes (I don’t like “gravel” or “dirt”, I rode and raced MTB and cross 25 years ago and lost my taste for it) and when I upgrade I dispose of at least one bike. I could never accumulate “stuff”, too much of a minimalist.

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