You need to own all the bicycles that will allow you to do the type of riding you enjoy.
Everyone who rides a bicycle starts with one bicycle. Nobody launches into cycling with a stable of bikes. But eventually, or sooner than that, most bike riders start to consider the idea that more than one bike would be great.
Here are some reasons I’ve heard about why you might need another bike.
Your current bike is too slow or too old or too heavy or too ‘not carbon’. So you need one that is faster/newer/lighter/made from carbon.
Sometimes your “best” bike is unavailable because it is being serviced by a professional or has been serviced by you or has a flat tyre or has torn bar tape or the DI2 battery is flat. You need a second bike for the days when you can’t ride your first bike.
You have a road bike but you need a mountain bike. ‘Cos mountain biking is cool.
You have a mountain bike and a road bike, but you need a gravel bike. ‘Cos gravel biking is cool.
You have a mountain bike but you need a road bike. Not sure why, have never actually heard this one.
You have a commuter bike but you need an e-bike. ‘Cos e-biking is great on days when you don’t feel like riding.
And so on ad infinitum. This sequence is called N+1.
N+1 The number of bikes that a bike rider should own is often expressed as N+1, where N is the current number of bikes you own. For many riders however, the number of bikes you actually own is more practically expressed as S-1, where S is the number of bikes owned which would cause your significant other to leave you (presumably for a non-bike rider).
N+1 is of course a frivolous answer, and because none of us really have endless funds or a shed big enough to house all the bikes, the question still remains. How many bikes should I own?
My answer to the question, how many bikes do you need? One. You only need one bike … of each type.
I only have one road bike, one cyclocross bike, one commuting/touring bike, one mountain bike and one e-bike.
But I have curated my fleet so that each bike also serves the adjacent purpose if required. So if my road bike is not in service for whatever reason, my cyclocross bike only needs a three-minute tyre change to be ready for a dash to Wynnum with the bunch. The mountain bike is good for dirt road adventure touring, as well as singletrack Sunday. The commuter/tourer can just about fill any role at a pinch, except maybe singletrack.
So for me, one (of each) bike is enough, and serves all my purposes.
But I’m not you, and many of my friends take a different approach. Some have several bikes of the same type. Some even have many bikes of the same brand. Some collect bikes, some collect bike parts and turn them into complete bikes.
So what is the right number of bikes to own? One.
Well, it’s a start anyway.
#bikes #cycling #touring #commuting #bikeshed
I’m going to an all-day workshop at Bokarina on the Sunshine Coast next week. I dislike driving to meeting at which I represent the interests of bike riders. So I am going to multi-mode it to the meeting. Only trouble is that it starts at 8.30am. Stay tuned for how I get there by bike and public transport!
Road bikes and cyclocross bikes and gravel bikes and all-road bikes all come with drop bars.
But most riders of these bikes don’t take advantage of the benefits that drop bars offer.
I ride on the road with a couple of different bunches. And I race cyclocross at Qld CX events. And I would say 90-95 percent of riders I see almost never use the drops.
There are two major benefits of riding in the drops:
- more aerodynamic position than on the hoods
- better control when braking and descending
And there’s one reason that most bike riders don’t use the drops
- their sub-optimal bike setup means that its not comfortable
So what do you get out of being able to use the drops as an option when riding road or cyclocross or gravel?
Well, firstly it’s an option. I don’t ever spend a whole ride, or even a whole race, in the drops. Hands on the hoods, elbows relaxed and bent, is still the most common position for me when on either the road bike or the cyclocross (CX) bike.
But there are two situations when I always move to the drops, and a third when there is also benefit to being down there.
The first situation is descending, whether on bitumen or gravel.
Before I go any further, I have to credit Anthony Mortimore as the person who explained these principles to me in a comprehensive and convincing way. He runs an excellent weekend course on climbing and descending. If you get to the end of this piece and want to put some of these ideas into action, do Anthony’s course (although it seems these days that you might have to go to New Zealand to do it). It will make you a better, safer, faster rider.
So, when descending on a road bike or CX bike, you want to be in a position that gives you the best control for braking and the most even or centred weight distribution. Being in the drops (assuming that your bike fit is correct) gives you a position on the bike that is low and centred (fore & aft), and also gives a grip on the handlebars that is able to withstand unexpected impacts from the road surface.
If you descend with your hands on the brake hoods, as many people do, a sudden hit to the bike from a crack or bump in the road has the potential to weaken your grip or even dislodge it altogether. If you’re on the drops, the force of the same impact pushes your hands harder into the bars, rather than off them.
The second advantage when descending in the drops is in braking force. If you are in the drops, you can brace your weight through your arms against the bars, and get your weight nice and low when you are braking. Doing the same manoeuvre from the hoods again puts you at risk of your grip weakening, and your hands sliding forward off the bars.
The third advantage of this position when descending is that is gives you the best way of keeping your weight pushing down through your outside pedal, thus giving you the best possible traction, the best grip on the road.
The second situation to be on the drops is when riding single track trails.
This is probably only applicable to cyclocross bikes. I don’t think many people are taking to the trails in Gap Creek or Daisy Hill on their road bikes with 25mm tyres.
But all of the advantages that being in the drops gives you when descending, are ramped up to the max when riding single track. For me, it is mostly about leverage to get the maximum braking power. Riding a cyclocross bike on single track is already very challenging. Riding it on the hoods is just asking for a crash.
I’ve ridden my cyclocross bike on single track at Gap Creek, Daisy Hill and Underwood trails. And my experience of doing so merely emphasises to me that being in the drops is the position which gives the greatest level of control over your bike.
And the third situation when I like to be on the drops is when riding in a bunch on a windy day.
Once again, there are situations in bunch riding where you want to be prepared for all eventualities, and also be as aero as possible. And that’s what being in the drops gives you, if your position is correctly set up.
On a windy day the bunch tends to be blown around a bit, and positioning can be tricky. In most non-racing situations, the bunch should not set up in an echelon, because the echelon increases your width in the lane, and will appear from behind as through the bunch is much more than two-abreast.
And so maintaining position in a cross-wind or a headwind in a two-abreast inline bunch requires greater concentration and your best ability to respond to a changing situation. As always, the solution to that is to be in the drops!
To sum it all up: Katie f’n Compton rides in the drops. You could learn heaps from Katie f’n Compton.
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- random opinions about bike stuff
- micro podcasts, by which I mean audio rants which are random opinions about bike stuff
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