Friday Group Ride #247

Friday Group Ride #247

I didn’t really recognize the words coming out of my mouth. I was saying, “I don’t really want to own a lot of bikes anymore. I just want to have a few really good ones.” As soon as I said it, a brief ontological crisis bloomed in my reptile brain. My legs went wobbly. I was telling the truth but also contradicting the basic truth of ‘n+1’ where n is the number of bikes you own, and the question is how many you want to own in total.

Maybe it’s growing maturity? No. Probably not. Maybe it’s the physical reality of the limited space in the two bedroom house I share with my wife and two kids, the growing share of that space afforded to hockey/soccer/lacrosse/baseball/video game/kid bike sprawl, and my diminishing patience for having to move objects in order to get to the washer and dryer.

Or maybe, I think this is actually it, it’s that what I really, really like is to feel comfortable on the bike I’m riding at any given time. I have what I’ll call a mixed-terrain bike, because gravel grinder is such an awful term, and I’m pretty close to internalizing its dimensions so that I can clear almost any obstacle on it that I can on my mountain bike. As a not-fast guy (don’t say slow), the infinite possible gains in bike handling are what really thrill me, and those gains mostly come from familiarity, which argues that I should rider fewer bikes, regardless of what my 12-year-old self tells me, that part of me that wants EVERY bike. This is the kid inside, the one who saved his allowance to buy stem and tube pads for his BMX bike, the one who wanted, but never got, mag wheels, back when that was a thing, whose bike lust rose early and was never sated.

Except that now, quite unexpectedly, it seems to have gone.

To be clear, I am still trudging up and down the aisles of the internet, stopping to admire the shiny things on the shelves. I still LOVE bikes, and I don’t imagine I’m done getting bikes yet, but the heat has gone out of it in, I think, a good way.

So this week’s Group Ride asks two questions. First, are you still after ‘n+1?’ Do you have a wish list longer than the reach of your bank balance? And if you are still lusting, what is the top bike on that list? If I had to name a next bike for myself, I’d have a hard time telling you weather it was a 29er or another road bike, but most of my friends know exactly what’s next…and exactly what it costs.

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  1. harris

    I also probably have too many bikes. But I would not know how to thin the herd. My bikes are special (even if only to me, but I think they are objectively so); until my kids get big enough, I don’t know that there will be a rider special enough for them. I am also afraid that even if I found the right person for them, I would be jealous – sort of like your friend with your ex girlfriend. So I instead keep tweaking this and that on all of them, and riding each one as much as I can, so they will feel as special as they deserve.

  2. Gene

    Don’t worry it’ll pass like athletes foot. One year you’ll get a better IRS return then you thought or get a raise and you’ll start plotting the next purchase. Hiding the receipts becomes an art form. My idiot brother in law asked me how much my bike cost in front of my wife

  3. DavidA

    @Robot…what is n+1 mean??? I only own and ride 1 bike for the moment…Ridley Excalibur with a Frakenbike group set on it. I ride it 5-7days a week and can still do 50kph if I have to. That being said I am going to pick up a new ride this spring in Sacto. CA a Cervelo R3 all Dura-Ace and Easton EA90 wheelset….around 15lbs. The Ridley will become the wet weather training bike w/Fenders. New bike=race machine

  4. Ransom

    I… Yes. No. Not sure. I just got my Hutch Exel with Tuff wheels last year. But I think I’m going to sell it. I’m not ready to give up my battered pub-going 3-speed. I *need* to keep the ‘cross/road bike, I want to get a mountain bike I’m more at home on (full suspension? Return to the Fat Chance congregation?), and I want a proper, dedicated road bike. BUT, I’m not sure I’ll ever get to a fat bike, another trials bike…

    I think perhaps it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that I don’t have time to ride ALL the bikes, least of all while still wanting to ride all the motorcycles, and build and drive all the cars. And I’ve got places to travel to, food to cook and eat, music to play (guitars also have an implicit “n+1 thing”)…

    Right now, a 27.5″ full suspension XC/trail bike is my likeliest +1.

  5. Jan

    Just one bike, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s a road bike, aluminum with some carbon fiber (fork and stays), and it’s a way, way better bike than I’ll ever be a rider. I’d love more time and good weather for riding, though.

    I gave away my 25 year old Fuji steel ten-speed last summer to a friend, in hopes that he’d ride it and have fun. I wasn’t using it, and it’s better for a bike to be ridden than to sit in the garage, I figure. My new bike (well, six or seven years new) is just so much more fun, what with the extra granny gears and the indexed shifting.)

    I’d LOVE to have a titanium road bike, but it’s not in my budget at this point, and I don’t need it enough to put it in the budget above stuff like retirement saving, car repairs, and travel. I do think titanium bikes are absolutely beautiful, though. (I’ve never even ridden one, but they just look so beautiful! And as long as I’m not buying, I don’t actually have to think about whether I’d even notice a difference from the current bike.)

  6. Matt K

    I have a mental list of a few bikes I would like to own. A Pegoretti Duende with Campy Record is at the top, this month anyways. It seems to be a rotating cast of characters though. An Emonda with Dura Ace would be nice but I would say the Pegoretti is at the top consistently. But I have also finally got my quiver down to a titanium road bike I love, a single speed steel commuter for getting to work on and a long haul trucker for fun/camping rides. I like having one dedicated road bike with a set of summer wheels and a set of off season wheels. It’s much simpler for me to just have one set up. I never have the dilemma of which bike to ride anymore either, anything that can make life simpler these days is welcome.

  7. L

    I culled the herd. Strange timing with this story as I just began the painful action in the last two months. Why? That’s exactly what I asked myself when I opened my eyes and truly looked at the stable. Of all the carbon framed this and that guess what I kept?
    My Moots and my Pegoretti. Oddly over the last decade I partook in the carbon weight weenie arms race. Partially sucked in by the marketing hype and partly because I found great deals. Finally I realized the bikes that got all the milage were my two metallic beauties. Comfort, durability, and handmade by great people which I’ve personally met.
    Matt K, my Pegoretti is a Duende with Super Record. Don’t wait. Do it!

    1. Matt K

      That’s not helping! Haha. The funny thing is I just built up the titanium this fall. But then over the holidays my wife and I inherited some money and the first thing I thought was, ‘if I didn’t just build up that Lynskey I would be ordering a Pegoretti’ So for now I’ll be good, half the money goes to my wife’s student loans and the other half goes to the kids savings fund. I love my R230 but if I had just waited, Italian steel would have been a nice winter project…

  8. Mike C

    Space isn’t the problem. Keeping it neat and organized is, even in a 3 car garage. The single Bay is for toys like our kayaks, fishing rods, golf clubs, boat gear, hunting stuff. Now, where do I put her 3 kids bikes, both of hers, my beach cruiser, two old mountain bikes and five road bikes? I can get them all in there neatly. However, if I want to break out a kayak the bikes have to be moved or chance tripping over them while hefting the yak over the bikes.
    I guess we could park her car in the single Bay and move everything over. Then I’d probably need more gear to fill the space………

  9. Michael

    I have always been one to keep my bikes for 10-20 years, so buying one every 3-6 years means I have about 5 or so at any given time (I sell one when I buy one). They are all made by the same person except my townie, on which I set a $20 limit for investment when I was given the frame. Made for an interesting bike build ($20 went for new brake cables and housing). So I have a light road bike, a cross bike, a 29er, a tandem (to ride with my physically challenged daughter), a coupler-ed do-everything big-tire road bike, and my townie. I don’t lust for a particular bike now – when I can’t fix something on one of my bikes, I will replace it. However, there IS a thought in the back of my brain – a touring bike with couplers for when I retire… But that is years away and I am happy with my bikes, until something breaks. I don’t even look at new bikes until it is time to buy one.


    Down to just having a CAAD3 winter bike and a CAAD10 for the summer, along with the old steel Cyclops for the downtube non index shifting days.

    Nice just being able to devote all maintenance time to one bike at a time

  11. Greg D

    N – 1 !!

    I fell in love with Cross bikes with disc brakes and now I am building a new lightweight Cross bike that will have 2 sets of wheels. One set for the dirt and one for the pave’. My Cervelo R3 has so much toe overlap that I cant ride it anymore, so goodbye road bike and hello the One Bike to Rule Them All…..

  12. Aaron Thomas Smith

    It’s hard to say where I’m at with this.

    On one hand : I’m pretty sure I just purchased what may be the only bike I’ll want to ride ever again (well, unless it’s snowpacalypse up here, which can happen). This has led to a bit of ‘purging’, which my wife very much enjoys, and my wallet too.

    On the other hand : I live in – what you might call – a varied environment. I own a Fatbike and feel no shame; it has a genuine use for greater than four months of the year up here. I like being able to not worry about ice/snow/dead tauntauns. Having a diverse stable is welcome. These can include : The Date Bike, The XC MTB, The Shit MTB, The Shit Road Bike, The Road Bike, etc, etc…

    I feel my impending child will soon force the first hand and my stable will be come less diverse (but still pretty damn rad).

  13. Stephen Barner

    Well, with over four dozen bikes, I think it’s long past time to admit that I have a problem. There are a few that never get ridden, typically because they are classics that are just too nice, or just a marginally interesting bike that really isn’t that good a ride, like the 1971 Schwinn Sports Tourer, but for the most part, they all get ridden. Of course, there’s only so much you can ride any one out of that many bikes. Believe it or not, the ones that roll the most miles are not the highest performance ones in the bunch. Rather, they are the ones that are the most utilitarian. The ’84 Bianchi I use as a primary commuter gets a few thousand miles a year. Then it’s probably the Gunnar Crosshairs, because it’s setup so well for dirt roads. After that, it would be one of several wonderful steel bikes from the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s that I would grab, like the DeRosa, a Waterford, Masi, Paramount, Serotta or Marinoni (my favorite, but it needs paint–again). It’s when I know I’m headed for a sufferfest that I’ll pull out the late-model Klein, or one of the token carbon fiber bikes.

    I don’t have room for all these bikes and it takes a lot of time to get around some areas of my house because of all the stuff I have to move. The worse part, though, is that they distract me from the really important things I have to do because there’s always something interesting to look at or some little maintenance task that calls. Still, it’s nice to be able to select the perfect bike for the conditions, roads and riding partners. When you have a significant other, it’s hard not to think that she needs at least a few bikes for different purposes too, and the same thing applies to those long bikes you ride together, as well. And you have to have at least a couple of track bikes, just to remind you every so often about how magical fixed gears are to ride and how much they suck for a place like Vermont.

    I’ll be cutting back a bit this year. I think the Gios is going to go and a couple mid-range Masis, as well as a couple tandems, but there’s already another tandem frame that arrived this year to be built up and a Waterford, and I’m considering pulling the pin on a really nice titanium road bike for my wife that’s available nearby, so whether it will be a net gain or loss at the end of the year is anybody’s guess.

    No doubt about it–I need to build another bike room.

  14. Peter Dedes

    I have 7. I want a Cherubim Racer and would happily unload one of my carbon road bikes for it. I also want a disc cross bike and would substitute an older SL bike for it.

  15. jorgensen

    I am completing a drawing of one I almost finished designing in the mid 80’s.
    It will be metallic.
    That might be set me at the high number for quantity, not counting bikes for the kids.
    They both are on the verge of moving to a full size road bike.

  16. slappy

    Hmmm, understandable, , but road bike, mountain bike, cross bike, xtracycle, fat bike, studded fixxee beer hauler, wife’s bikes, kid’s bikes’, loaner bikes. . where do you cut?

  17. Jay

    After acquiring a hand built custom steel framed bike last year (after a 30-year wait), I really don’t covet any other bikes. I have three in total and only two are ridden, neither one is carbon fiber. Maybe there is a titanium framed bike in my future, but not for some time.

  18. Hoshie99

    I could have written this article. In reality though, I am down to 2 but own 6 – my road and my cross bike. I am approaching a significant decade and thought about a custom 1 bike as the go forward plan.

    I have a very good road bike, but if I sell it, the value is low. Same with some of the older ones in the garage, so it’s hard to minus the garage queens and make it worth it.

    It’s a motley crew of an old colnago super converted to single speed, an MB3 converted to a commuter (never ridden), a Merckx Corsa that is too pretty to get rid of and some old dual susser

    So, yeah, I get the thrust. Clean it up, move on!


  19. Hoshie99

    I forget the first part of your question – my shortlist for the “1 bike”
    Custom all arounder with a racy cross / road hybrid geometry. Potential builders I have scoped that seem to get the approach I’d like:

    1) Seven Evergreen
    2) Calleti
    3) Strong

    Basically steel or Ti custom frame, carbon fork, discs, and probably ultegra.


  20. Alan

    I too bond with bikes I ride a lot. And I ride all my bikes. A lot. 1980 Trek 710 to a 2014 Rockhopper. 1988 Townie/college Jamis Diablo MTB, everyday inexpensive commuter (in case its stolen again), the reliable long distance road horse Allez, and a older Felt B2 TT bike. 6 = n? I hope? Nothing super expensive, all loved.

  21. Timojhen

    Have no shame over the 7 .. (8?) I own today, but my appetite is slowing. Could certainly see myself thinning things over time, especially if I met someone who could benefit from a bike I’m not using. Have several which are low value but have some minor sentimental bond for me. When they aren’t really worth anything, it becomes harder for me to put the effort into selling them. (I have a basement room dedicated to bike storage / working.)

    Next up is a fully suspended 27.5…. last (new) mountain bike was quite a while ago now and I’d like to get back into it.

  22. Blake Melton

    Agree with the comments about maintenance and time. I’d love another bike, but with the wife and kids there are no more relaxed weeknights sipping beer and tuning bikes. An hour working on bikes is an hour I could have spent riding. Got four bikes (road, geared mountain, single mountain, one to ride with the kids) and it seems like a lot of work to keep them all tuned well.

  23. Dave

    So appropriate for me right now – I have two bikes: A Rich Adams black, steel road bike and a DeSalvo titanium gravel grinder. They both fit me perfectly and offer a ride that is equally perfect. But, for some reason, this cold, dark time of the year when I do not ride much always finds me pressured by the n+1 force of nature. My wife rides a nice Serotta Fierte with a Christopher Igleheart Reynolds 853 fork. She is perfectly happy with just that one and thinks I’m crazy to want more. Wisely (I think) I have been avoiding that winter project bike, but just barely… C’mon Spring!

  24. Aaron M.

    I’ve never really wanted to own a fleet of bikes. It seems wasteful to keep more than three. A road machine, an off-road rig, and a utility bike are all I can muster guilt free love for. Clothing, on the other hand, I have a healthy appetite for. I’ve always found that kit makes a larger difference in my cycling satisfaction than the bike itself.

  25. Champs

    The three bikes I own are all but perfect. That doesn’t mean I would mind upgrading to a more modern carbon road frame (the DA7800 can stay), or my Litespeed Blue Ridge to a more touring-specific design with discs front and rear. The third bike is a beater and will remain this way. I have learned my lesson.

    Despite this contentment, it’s easy to look well past n+1. The things I don’t want are easier to list. I don’t want to ride circuits or take big hits. I don’t care about refinements to be more aero on the road or lighter on the trail. Oh, and recumbents—just no.

  26. Pat O'Brien

    I have had up to five bikes. One each of a hybrid commuter, full suspension mountain, hard tail mountain, road, and touring bike were in the garage. When I retired the touring bike and hard tail mountain got the most miles. I sold the rest. But in the last year, the number has gone back up. I have also made frame and fork upgrades. Now if have a road, touring, hard tail mountain, and around town bikes, for a total of four. The around town bike was the latest, and i expect the last addition to the stable. It was a 1994 Trek 930 Singletrack in very good condition. Changed the stem and put on a rear rack and new tires, and my $250 town bike was born. I am like a magnet when it comes to bike frames. But a Seven touring bike in ti, that’s the stuff of my dreams.

  27. Jim P.

    Certainly, I suffer from n+1. Marinading in my mind the question of what my +1 bike would be leads me to a different conclusion. I really don’t need another bike. If I can be allowed to mix metaphors, my bike bases are loaded with road/Mtn/CX/town bikes covered. That puts the +1 bike in the role of the slugger that comes to bat and crushes a walk-off homer for that “Happily Ever After”. I don’t think it really works out that way in the end. It’s more like “Happily Until Familiarity Rears It’s N+1-inducing Head”.
    What we’re really chasing here is that rush that infatuation with the new gives. The thing is, if I got a new bike, I’d still be riding it on my familiar roads. So what I’d like my n+1 to be is new places to ride one of my n=perfect bikes. New people to meet, food to try, hairy situations to get into and out of. I’d like my n+1 to refer to stories to tell, memories.
    To that end, my n+1s include the Dolomites, the Swiss Alps, and I’d really like to ride across Northern France again to find that little house at the end of some village or another that I saw during PBP and was overwhelmed with wanting to live in for the rest of my life.

  28. gus cinci

    Heya Robot, I feel the same way. I think the realization came along when my kids starting walking and talking and demanding more from my time. New challenging job sure tipped the scale so the n+1 sure sounds nice on velominati’s rules book. But for the busy daddy, the splurge comes in the form of kilometers, not low-kilos bikes. This is the first time in 17 years I didn’t issue a racing license since, well, I don’t race anymore. I currently have 3 bikes: A1, A2, and winter/commuter/indoor rider. Needless to say the latter gets ridden most, so pretty soon I’ll upgrade its cheapo frame to a cheapo frame w more tire clearance so I can rock some 28s w room to spare. Right now I had to use a file to free up some room on the rear triangle to fit the big tires. But not all is lost; I struck a deal w the wife so I’ll get to ride as many centuries and fondos as I can get away with. Can’t see why having multiple bicis would make me a better or happier rider; on the contrary, I’d be miserable knowing there’s a neglected speed arsenal in the basement. So 3 bikes, for now, are more than adequate.
    One more thing: FREEDOM HAWK IS AMAZING!

  29. August Cole

    I need n+1 (or more) hours. I recently bought a new bike designed for that paradigm. It’s a disc steel Seven Evergreen designed to be a Spring Classics bike I could ride singletrack on. A bike that would be as fun for a 45 minute blast along the area’s suburban seams as it would be on a rare long full day out on the road. Seven, which is a couple miles from where I live, delivered: It’s got a super low old school European geo bottom bracket like the bike it replaced yet it is far stiffer. It can fit 40c tires but it looks great with Vittoria Paves. Plus, Robot was kind enough to show me the frame in production. For me, one really good bike will be better maintained and get more use (better vallue then) over a longer period than two pretty good bikes. And I have a 14 year old Redline CX bike for errands and the vilest of winter days. My old but refreshed road bike (04 LItespeed Firenze) will be passed along in the spring to spread the stoke.

  30. Tom in Albany

    Wow! I didn’t realize I was this late for the ride. The parking lot is empty and the cars are gone too!

    So, I’ve never had the lust. When I got out of grad school in ’89, I bought a $400 Schwinn and fell in love again with riding. I rode that bike for a good 10-ish years. I bought a titanium Serotta to replace it. I’m only interested in a new bike now because, pushing 50 means that the geometry isn’t good for me any more.

    On the mountain bike end of things, I bought a $250 Mongoose in ’96ish. I rode it for five years when I dropped $2500 on a Trek Fuel ’98. Remember that one? Main triangle is aluminium and the rear triangle is carbon fiber. I would like a new mountain bike now only to replace that 14ish year old bike with a 29er or maybe a 27point5er.

    I don’t even lust for part upgrades. I’ve never raced. Don’t really plan to as a thing. So, I wear things out and replace them.

  31. Rob

    I’m down to 4, after having as many as 10. Road bike, Cross bike, Commuter and Vintage racing bike. It feels good to have less stuff. But that doesn’t mean I’m done buying bikes, it just means that for every new bike coming in, one’s gotta go.

  32. Ron

    Very nice! Thankfully I already own a purple bike, otherwise that would have spurred my n+1 lust. Purple is my favorite color.

    As for the question – nope, all set on bikes. My real goal is to save money to build a proper bike shed where I can store all the ones I own. House is a bit too clogged, though I do have a dedicated bike room. I have three Italian steel bikes, a carbon French bike, and an Al/carbon cross race bike, plus a dedicated commuter. No needs at the moment. I’d like a few new parts, some rain booties for commuting, and two new wheelsets.

    What I’d really like is time for longer rides! After a few years of graduate school (6 days a week of riding 2-3 hours) I’m now back to working a 9-5. I commute by bike, which is awesome. But finding time to ride, with winter weather and sunlight, is not easy. I don’t mind riding in bad weather, but rolling out in morning darkness or riding home, changing, then heading out in the dark is just not something I’m up for right now.

    And, I don’t even have kids! Have no idea how I’ll ride once that happens. Saturdays are soccer days, so it really only leaves Sunday, which is occasionally eaten up by house projects.

  33. Maremma Mark

    Great post, a real conundrum for riders. After almost 30 years of serious riding I’m at 4 road bikes but have a serious lust for a project that is just awaiting the go-ahead from me to happen. But room is a factor. However, with a ’72 Masi Gran Criterium, a Hampsten Moots (12 yrs. old, made by the ‘real’ Mr. Moots), a 2 yr. old steel lugged Tommasini and an old, ugly but fine riding Moser, what to off load becomes an issue. None of the first three, each of them priceless to me, especially the Hampsten/Moots. Unbelievable bike, that. And who would want the Moser? So maybe the number will reach 5, if the stars aline and the God’s smile upon me. The lust regards another steel lugged Tommasini but this one would be a fixed gear with fenders for winter riding. Irio would like to build it, steel is still their forte. Time will tell. Maybe at that point the n+1 equation could change. But I’ve said that before.

  34. gregorio

    Two. I just built up a Felt AR for my road bike, and have re-tasked my old Trek 5.2 for gravel with 28’s and a cushy-er saddle. If all we had was great pavement, I wouldn’t bother. With our labyrinth of gravel roads in N Minnesota it kinda makes sense. N+1 rings true if I’m trying to fill a niche…rather than scratch an itch.

  35. Bfeltovi

    the only smart thing (bike-wise) that I’ve ever done was to settle on Shimano 10-spd and build my stable around that. Now I can swap wheels around so I have a set of cross wheels w knobbies, a set of “training” wheels w a Power Tap hub and a front wheel w a dynamo hub, a tubeless set, and a “classic” set. Life is simpler now. I have a carbon bike, a fancy steel bike, a Ti cross bike, a 3-speed city bike, and an older steel bike w fenders for winter/rain, etc.
    That said, I still lust after a Firefly Ti bike, a Pegoretti, and a fancier carbon bike. And maybe a Hampsten Strada Bianca. And a steel rando bike. And…
    I guess it never ends.

  36. Jeff Bequette

    The newest object of bike lust is a Pashly G’uvnor, single or 5 speed. N= Burly tandem, Jamis Aroura, the main commuter, 91 Trek 720 was a mountain hardtail, now morphed into a commuter, and a recycled 70’s Motobecan fixie. I guess I’m still waiting for the moment of clarity to strike. I think the next build will be R.Q. Riley’s XR2 recumbent….

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