Two months ago I had all of the bikes I’d ever need. I’ve got a mud bike, a mountain bike, a racing road bike and a rain road bike, and a tandem (for rides with my wife or daughters). I could go anywhere and do anything. Or so I thought.
Then we, my wife and I, bought gravel bikes and our cycling world changed for the better…
Yesterday, we took my wife’s gravel bike in to have a few items looked over and she started talking about fat tire bikes for winter cycling and I almost fell over.
I actually feel like I’ve got too many bikes. Me.
To go anywhere and do anything, an avid cyclist can need up to… let’s see, carry the one… Six bikes. A road bike, a gravel/cyclocross bike, a time trial bike, a mountain bike, a fat tire bike, and an all-arounder or touring bike. Figure an average cost of $2,000 each and you’re really talking about some money!
There is one glaring problem with the whole “how many bikes” mess: If you want to do any one thing well, you simply need a bike specific to the discipline.
- I can do a triathlon on a road bike, there is no doubt. If I want to do my best at the sport, though, I would need a time trial bike.
- I can ride my mountain bike in the snow but if I really want to be as stable as possible, I need a fat tire bike.
- I could ride a time trial rig in a group but I have to be at the front of the group or slightly off the back at all times (because all but a few highly skilled cyclists can pull off a TT bike in a group – call it 2% of all TT cyclists. The problem is, the other 98% all think they belong in that 2%). No, you need a good road bike for group rides if you’re going to be good at it.
- The gravel bike could be thought of as a luxury, until you try to put 28mm tires on your road bike, only to find that the sides of the tires rubbed all of the paint off of your chain stays (today’s road bikes are beginning to allow for wider tires, but not the aero bikes, because clearance has to be tight to keep the bike aerodynamic).
- You obviously need a mountain bike with suspension for those tough trails.
- The touring bike is necessary for the zombie apocalypse and commuting – so that obviously can’t be done without!
Six bikes… And we haven’t even cracked the necessity of rain bikes yet.
We can narrow this down though. I think I can get this down to three or four.
- Dude, you don’t need a triathlon bike because the run and the swim mess up a perfectly good bike ride! A bike ride shall never be proceeded or followed by a swim or a run.
- Take the fat tire bike and give up the mountain bike. You can ride the fat tire bike on trails or in the snow.
- Road bike, rain road bike, and gravel bike…. That’s four.
Now hear me out (or read me out, but that seems rather odd, written). As a roadie, the gravel bike is one of the most versatile bikes on the market – and it is completely revolutionizing cycling. A decent gravel bike can be a mountain bike, a cross bike, a road bike, a commuter, and a touring/zombie apocalypse bike. The gravel bike should be one of the most important on the list of bikes one needs. With a decent gravel bike, you can put knobby or slick tires on it, add some aero bars for a triathlon, or panniers and a rack or two for touring. The gravel bike can do almost anything well.
Had I to do it over, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t buy either mountain bike, nor my rain bike, nor my first road bike (my Cannondale). I’d have gotten the gravel bike first, then the Venge, then the tandem. Instead of all of the bikes I now own, I’d be down to three. Well, maybe the first mountain bike for a mud/muck bike.
Of course, they didn’t have gravel bikes back then, so there’s that. The point is, I thought I needed a lot of bikes to do everything from ride single tracks to ride with the club. The reality is, if done conscientiously, all of those bikes can be narrowed down a little bit to keep the clutter and cost to a dull roar.