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When a Bike isn’t just a Bike.

November 2015

My first pair of in-line skates cost me $450.  Not speed skates, hockey skates.  The first thing I did was take off the brakes. After I wore out the bearings that came with them, i upgraded to ceramic bearings – I think I spent more than  $100 on a new set…  I don’t know where those brakes are today but I still have the skates and they’re still awesome and fast.  I just have to change the wheels from time to time.  They’re 22 years old, long enough ago Reidell actually made inline skates…

$450 is a bunch of money to spend on a pair of skates but I could average almost 20 mph over 16-24 miles if I gave it a good effort. 

That’s not the direction I took with my first adult bike.  I bought a POS from Sears and I hated it.  I maybe rode it a dozen times before I gave it to a newly recovering drunk who had no way to get to work.  No license, no money for a gas, let alone enough for a car payment. I never thought about riding a bike again… Till 2011.

My first bike, a garage sale POS, was unimpressive, four sizes too small, and miserably heavy. I paid $20 for it. Then a friend who belonged to the same running club took pity on me and sold me his backup Trek 3700 base model mountain bike for a hundred bucks… My company was just crossing the five year threshold back then and we were still on an “I can’t believe we’re doing this” beans and weenies diet. For the first time in my life though, at 41 years-old, I had a bike that really worked… well.

That simple base model Trek mountain bike was my first, “This isn’t a bike, this is happiness on wheels!” bike.

I suppose that’s just the best way to put it… Happiness on wheels.

I’ve since gone through four more upgrades, each bike better than the last, to a point where I’m finally at those $450 inline skates in a bike…


Now we all like to say that it’s not the bike that matters, it’s the engine that really counts. You’ll hear, from time to time, that components don’t really matter once you get passed the mid-grade level (Shimano Claris or 105, SRAM Rival, Campagnolo Chorus) or that you don’t need a carbon fiber frame, that steel or aluminum is just as good…

There’s a lot of truth to that notion. There’s a lot of BS in it too.

For instance, I have a 16 year-old Shimano Ultegra groupset on my rain bike… Those components work better than my 2013 105 groupset on my good bike. The difference is noticeable, obvious. The performance of my carbon fiber frame, compared to my aluminum frame is so outrageously better and more comfortable, I’m having a tough time putting it into words without coming off “over the top”.

A bike, for me, used to be a way to get from point A to point B, simple as that. Or, a bike was just a bike.

Today my bikes are my escape, my way of taking the longest amount of time I’ve got available to get from point A back to point A. Today my bikes play a huge part in socializing with my friends. Where many people throw parties or go out for a night on the town, my friends and I, my wife and I, go for a ride. My bikes are my means of staying fit, trim and healthy, of staying grounded, level and content in an otherwise chaotic world.

So yeah, a bike may just be a bike to most, but not to me… and for that, I am grateful.

The point is, my friends, if your bike isn’t going to be “just a bike” for you, don’t be afraid to splurge a little bit, responsibly… A nice bike is worth the investment.


  1. Tony says:

    A bike by any other name …

  2. Sure the engine sitting on the saddle is the most important factor, but those who say it’s not about the bike haven’t ridden enough nice bikes!

  3. Dan says:

    Once again, you’ve nailed it. When I got my Waterford, I had ZERO business spending that money. That bike is now as much a part of me as my foot…..when it’s working!

  4. bribikes says:

    I have brought two bikes in the past year and I will buying another one before long I am sure. This is when living car free comes in really handy, I can justify any purchase with, “Well, it’s cheaper than a car-by buying this bike I am saving money!”

  5. MJ Ray says:

    You can have a good cheapish bike only if it’s unfashionable in some way, such as steel retro styling. Otherwise, they’ve almost certainly skimped somewhere subtle, as supermarkets often do.

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