Never Enough Bike

Disclosure: I’m a 50-something, slightly better than average bike rider who owns one pretty expensive bike and I don’t really care who rides what. I have personally spent more money on inner tubes than a decent 3-course meal in France. So I know of which I speak.

When I look over at my Colnago hanging on the wall, I don’t always see a machine that is just fine the way it is. I sometimes see a conglomeration of incomplete equipment. Why don’t I have a Super Record groupset? And that old stem/bars set-up should really be replaced by an integrated unit. I could probably climb better with a set of Lightweight wheels, too. You know what I mean.

I blame my human nature (and ads on Facebook). After all, if it wasn’t for people like Louis Pasteur being unsatisfied with the way anthrax and rabies were killing people left and right, we wouldn’t have a world where everybody believes wholeheartedly in vaccines….wink wink.

And so it is with everything, including bikes. 30 years ago, bike tech was pretty simple and cheap, so perhaps many people could keep up with their buddies in the weekend cycling club; but today many of us are faced with serious financial questions if we want to upgrade (and really, who doesn’t?). There are the disk brakes we talked about in the previous article (although that’s not really even a choice now), carbon wheels, electronic shifting, a power meter (the bike computer is now so universal that I wouldn’t even consider it an option) and €300 (or more) shoes. If you built a top-end bike yourself you could reach €10,000 fairly easily. For some people that’s peanuts, but for the rest of us it might involve putting off buying a new car for another year. And then there’s trying to sell the idea to your non-cyclist partner. I don’t have this problem because it’s a ‘business expense’ for me, but I can only imagine the negotiations involved!

I think that there’s a GCN video out there that will tell us that a €10,000 bike is, indeed, better than a €2500 bike (the price I paid for the ‘2nd bike’ before upgrades), but it is probably not 400% better. Maybe it is. And then we come to the crunch, i.e., as Pierre commented on my last article, for the vast majority of riders out there, there is really no ‘need’ for disk brakes or 9 gram water bottle holders, or a superbike frame for that matter. It might be the equivalent of owning a lamborghini and never going over the speed limit. What’s the point?

Well, the point is that it makes you feel better, and if you can afford it then there’s no reason not to buy the best you can. There’s also no reason not to stick to what you have, no matter what the rest of the club is doing, if you are satisfied. Sometimes in life there isn’t a right and wrong answer. As a wise man once said (two days ago, in the comments section), ‘ride the bike you want…as long as you ride’!

But man oh man, wouldn’t you love to have a beauty like this?!

27 thoughts on “Never Enough Bike

    • That’s a good point about the lifetime. The way I’m going there won’t be many! That Basso bike is pricey. It better be good. Have you bought one…?

      • no, for the road I still have my sarto. as i now,there is no other like it, let me keep it longer. and ther have to be gravle an bike packing bikes to be bought ;o) By the way: Dura ace? Serious? Ok, shimano stocks, but not parts…

  1. That beauty… with disc brakes! I’m in a unique place to be able to own and ride an entry-level gravel bike, a mid-range “winter/rain” bike, and a 15 pound super-bike… There’s no question the me on the entry-level road bike could keep up with me on the super-bike. Fortunately, our club has six tiers of rider capability, so anyone can find a friend to ride with no matter the bankroll. Still, those super-bikes are definitely super.

  2. Is a 10,000 Euro bike four times better than a 2,500 Euro bike? Of course not. What you’re describing is the Law of Diminishing Returns and it applies to almost everything. Even your ride data would confirm this, I would think. In order to improve on your personal best time for a given ride you will need a dramatic amount of effort for the tiniest gain. Conversely, easing your effort 10% will not result in a 10% reduction in pace.

    If we’re lucky in life, we can eventually enjoy some of the finer things. What that is will vary by individual. While the fancy bike may not be four times better, it is no doubt finer. If your budget can support it and there’s nothing “finer” to do with the money, then I say rock on!

    • Wise words, Steve, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. Once the mortgage is paid off I’m going to start shopping for something ‘fine’!

  3. I have two passions in Life, one is my wife and the other is my bike. She often wonders which one comes first. I started down this “not enough bike thing” in 2011, relatively late in life as I am now 61.

    If I only have two pleasures in life, I am going to make the best of it.

    As you know, I’m in the process of rebuilding my bike with custom paint, New electronic grouppo etc. Case in point, its the details. I happen to have some parts on the bike that are anodized Titanium. So what do I do? I start to think about all those details like bottle cages, Seat post clamp and chain catcher. These parts are not cheap and they took a lot of research to just find suppliers, but these days, I happen to have a lot of disposable time. Getting these items to match the other Titanium parts will be a bit of a challenge but not impossible to do on your own. I bought titanium bottle cages to give it some of that old school look, Titanium Clamp and chain catcher and will go through the trouble of matching them up myself.

    I’ve come to the realization that “its just about the bike”, not about making me faster. If I’m going to be slow, I might as well look good doing it.

  4. As long as bills are paid and there’s food on the table, then spend as much as you like on bikes! Riding something awesome that you love makes you ride more which in turn makes you fitter. It’s winning all round!

    I shuddered at the $$$$ when I clicked “buy” on my Canyon, but I shiver in delight every damn ride!

  5. I am with Steve on the Law of Diminishing Returns and how it applies to almost everything but one of the things it doesn’t apply to is ‘being the man’. If buying a more expensive bike makes you the man, then buy it. Of course, you could always do more training instead but….

  6. We used to have cars to satisfy our need to tinker and upgrade, but they’ve become just too complicated and expensive to mess around with for the average guy like me, so bikes are my last bastion to tinker with something mechanical.

    It’s not always about going faster (although that’s a big part of the embarrassingly poor return on component upgrades). That being said, sometimes it’s just the appreciation of a finely tuned machine with all the goodies that appeals to our artistic senses. This is why it doesn’t matter if you have SRAM, Campy, Disk or Rim Brakes, tube, tubeless, or tubulars tires, carbon or steel frames. Just like art, there is no right answer. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and all that really matters is you and your beauty get out and enjoy the freedom that comes from this great sport of cycling.

    Enjoy the Ride

    • Right, and since I’ll never be able to afford a fast and beautiful car, a bike more than compensates. The problem for me, though, is that soon even bikes will become too complicated to tinker with!

      • It will become too complicated for US, who love the purely-mechanical aspect of bikes. We can always grump off with our retro whatevers at that point. (This is how Rivendell [] makes money, right?)

        But think of kids growing up now. Working with computers and electronics comes more naturally to them than working with bearings or cables. They will not have an issue tinkering with tomorrow’s bikes.

  7. You said it. I just bought my first drop-bar bike, and I love it. I’ve ridden cheap bikes, commuters, whatever I could afford or made the most sense. This time it just appeared to me. I was in the right place at the right time and saw a friend’s drop-bar gravel bike. I fell in love. I found one in stock here in town and I couldn’t be happier. Ride what you like! Thank you for the post.

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