Or, how to convince your significant other you need another toy

By Mon Garcia | Lead photo by Jace Grandinetti/Unsplash | Additional photos courtesy of Mon Garcia

Cycling used to be a niche sport here. You had to know where to go to score good deals and you had to cultivate connections to get rare, boutique stuff. I remember building my mountain bike in 1997 and sending a laundry list of parts to someone who works at an airline who eventually set up a bike shop here. Back then, to get what you really wanted or needed, you had to do some legwork—and I don’t mean intervals.

The Truth of Now

These days, major brands have set up official concept stores all over the metro and even in outlying cities. This, in addition to the old avenues of bicycle shopping, has made getting hold of nice, new, and even limited products very easy.

Much like cars, the level of bicycles here is impressive, thus belying our status as a developing country. The level of availability as well as the level of what’s available (we get the latest and greatest and you’d be surprised at how many people order) make us a small but sophisticated superpower in the world cycling market. Truly, an embarrassment of riches.

All of which creates an atmosphere akin to car collector’s clubs albeit on a smaller scale. Hanging around with cyclists, it’s not uncommon to see bikes like these stacked up next to each other:

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A lot of us would love a stable like this at the Cervelo Ride with Pride in November 2015
The Temptation(s)

With all of this available, it’s now easier than ever to build a seemingly impressive stable of bikes: road, mountain, time-trial/triathlon, fixed gear, folding, BMX, and commuter. Or, one could create specialized builds for particular rides. For example, you could have multiple road bikes but have different builds to satisfy the following uses:

  • all-arounder
  • lightweight climbing bike
  • full aero road bike
  • criterium scrapper
  • comfortable long-distance tourer

For mountain bikes, you can do the same: a cross-country bike, a trail bike for more challenging terrain, a downhill-specific bike… the list can grow quite long.

The thing is, you could justify having lots of bikes by building them to address specific conditions or ride types. But then justifying them to yourself is different from justifying them to others. Your significant other, for example. So the question is how many is too many?

My Girl (or, My Answer to the Temptations)

For me, having a lot of bikes is nice but make sure you know exactly what you are building each for and how each satisfies the performance you require or expect from them. It is easy to fill a garage with bikes but if all of them are mediocre, then all you’ll have is a collection of mediocre bikes. Better to have one or two awesome ones, believe me.

Why? Firstly, maintenance. Even if you don’t do your own maintenance and send every one to the shop, it will still affect your time and budget. Tires lose air, chains rust, things degrade even when not in use. This is a hobby, not a job. Unless you are looking to be a curator of your own bike museum.

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Here’s how to make a bike (or two) special. Have it meet its maker, so to speak. The author after having his frame signed by Phil White, co-founder of Cervelo

Next, the enjoyment you get from a purposefully-built bike with a solid design philosophy (i.e. this bike is meant to accelerate and climb fast, therefore only lightweight parts will be spec’ed on it) is much, much greater than that of getting a pre-built all-arounder. Even if you have four or five of them. Quality trumps quantity.

The bicycle is a relatively simple yet highly customizable piece of technology. The joy of riding something made for you is made sweeter by the time, research, and lessons learned to get there. Also, isn’t it nice to have a few special things than a lot of commonplace commodities? To truly be an aficionado rather than just a consumer? To learn the history behind what you are building, not just getting something off-the-rack?

But that’s just me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: That you have the bike that will get you from point A to point B in the fastest, safest, and most enjoyable way.

I’ve got mine.