I’ve come to the Conclusion; The Question may not be How Many Bikes do I need, but how Many Wheelsets do I have?
By luck or design, I ended up with three wheelsets for my road bikes, and all three have different uses. I have one wheelset for the A bike. Let’s face it, you only need one set for that bike, and I’ve got two sets for the rain bike – and this is where it gets interesting, because the bike manufacturers screwed up and you’ve got maybe two years before they figure out what they’ve done and make corrections. If you’re up for a new bike, it’s a good time to be you.
So, I’ve got three road wheelsets. One carbon fiber set that will only see sunny weather, one good alloy wheelset for rain and whatever else comes my way, and a wheelset to ride on the trainer or if I’m planning on riding in a washout. It’s taken almost a decade for me to become bike and wheel rich, but this is where you want to be.
There’s a small catch in my case, though. My rain bike only takes 23mm tires so I can’t use the good wheels on the rain bike if I wanted to. I run 25’s on the good wheels. As you can see in the above, there isn’t much room for 28’s. I do have a friend who runs a 28 on his Venge rear wheel, but it’s so tight he has to mess with air pressure so it doesn’t rub – in other words, 28’s don’t fit.
However, and this is kinda sexy…
New road bikes accept tires up to and beyond 28-mm nowadays because wider tires are the trend, some even up to 32-mm and many road models come standard with disc brakes… which means one could technically buy one bike and two more wheelsets for three different riding conditions – including gravel. Folks, I run 28’s on my dedicated gravel bike:
Take, for instance, a Specialized Tarmac or a Trek Emonda, with hydraulic disc brakes. You buy one light bike with a 50/34 compact. Say you get the mid-range 105 model (given the choice I’d spend another $800 and opt one level higher with Ultegra components, but that’s just me). You use the wheels that come on the bike for the rain tires (assuming you’ve purchased the bike with the alloy wheelset – 26’s come on the Tarmac and 25’s on the Trek). Then you get a decent, but light set of tubeless ready wheels for dirt and fit that wheelset with some knobby tires, and a carbon fiber set for the nicer weather. The trick here, of course, is that I’m assuming each bike will accept a 28-mm tire. I don’t know this for sure and my wife would likely skin me alive just for asking at the shop, so I’ll leave that bit of research up to you – that I could tell her I was doing research for a post would not be adequate cover. Unfortunately, this is my own fault. I’ve trained her to cringe whenever I start looking into a new bike – by the time I start asking, she knows it’s not long before a new steed is in the stable.
The point is, folks, you’re going to have a 17-ish pound race bike that you can use for anything – and its got internally routed cables and a threaded bottom bracket so you won’t have to worry too much about the dirt getting into everything.
In other words, today you have the opportunity to purchase the perfect go-anywhere, do anything light race bike (arguably, a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Domane would be slightly better for the job because they have more tire clearance built in, but those have relaxed geometries and I’ve never been a fan – in fact that’s the one thing that kept me from pressing my wife for a squishy bike).
Let’s see, $3,150 for the Trek or $3,500 for the Specialized, $800 for the dirt wheels, and $600-$3,000 for the sunshine wheels (depending on whether you want Ican or Enve wheels – or anything in between). Let’s say you went with the Ican wheels just for fun, and to keep the price low – and you went with the Trek. You’re looking at less than $5,000 for a legit racer, with tires and cassettes for each wheelset, that can do anything with a quick wheel swap, less than two minutes (including a derailleur adjustment).
My friends, I’ve got more than that into my race bike, let alone my rain bike and my gravel bike. It is a good time to be in the market for a bike.