Monday, 3 October 2011
X = N+1
It's true. The perfect number of bikes to own is N+1, where N = the number of bikes you already have. It's a debate I often have with my non-cycling friends and neighbours - "why do you have so many bikes?" they'll ask. My retort is usually - "how many pairs of shoes do you have?" and then I have to explain that each bike is best at a specific task. I mean, you wouldn't go to a ball wearing hiking boots, or up Ben Nevis in high heels. Actually, strike that last bit - I've seen it done....
Thing is, no matter how good each bike is, there's always some factor which stops it being perfect in every role and with the bike manufacturers keen to keep sales going, there'll always be a niche which you just need to fill.
With all of this in mind, I've been thinking about my current bike collection. The Cube Agree is pretty much perfect for its intended use. Sportives, long training rides on the road, short blasts when I just want to feel the experience of speed, it handles all of these with some aplomb and does so without being uncomfortable or uneasy. The Amazon has been a bit of a revelation for me. As a commuter, it was just great. As a tourer, just as good. Fitting some knobblies has revealed a whole other character and it has become a wonderful cross-bike. I suspect it'll also be putting a lot of miles over the winter when the roads are a bit more treacherous than the 23mm tyres on the Cube really want to deal with.
Then there's the three mountain bikes. Last year, the Blur hung in the garage almost forgotten. I'd occasionally look at it when taking out something else and ponder on whether or not it should just go. A great trip to Wester Ross changed my mind. I'd forgotten how lively, flickable and fun it was. Since then, I've been using it a bit more and it has been feeling better each time. I'm also (age?) appreciating the full-suspension comfort. The Ti Ragley was bought to replace a very similar mmmbop which had been a bit of an experiment for me. The relaxed steering angle had encouraged me downhill a bit faster, but the aluminium frame was a tad harsh for longer rides. A titanium equivalent would surely address that latter fault and this might be a great bike-packer. That would then take one role away from my Onion - the wee Taiwanese Ti hardtail. As a commuter, it suffered last winter, with road salt eating away at the components. However, it's amazingly lightweight with the carbon forks and is still my off-road tourer.
Why change then? Well, the Ragley just isn't going to be all I wanted it to be. Compared with the Blur, it feels long and a bit of a boat. Great when going fast downhill, and climbs great, but just feels a bit unwieldy sometimes - and not as compliant at the rear as I'd perhaps hoped. I just can't imagine bike-packing with its so it would be relegated mostly to trail centre duties. Riding it has, however, upped my confidence - a lot - and the speed I gained with it has more-or-less transferred to my Blur. So, it begins to look a bit redundant.
Riding the Amazon off-road has convinced me that there might be some merit in looking at the larger-wheeled 29er MTBs. For off-road touring and for local trails like the Pentlands, this might be just the ticket. But that potentially puts the Onion on the scrapheap too.....
And then there's the forecast of a severe and long winter to consider. Only 18 months ago, we were all laughing at the Fatbike fad. By February, I was seriously seeing the advantage of having one, but it was, of course, too late to get one. Now, seeing what other use folk are putting them to and having just returned from a very wet and boggy Pentlands ride, I'm thinking it's time I scratched that itch too.
So - what to do? With 5 bikes in the garage, do I sell the Ragley and invest in a 29er and a Fatbike? N=N+1?? Or do I do the sensible thing and retire the Onion too?