Since I got the Schwinn Heavy Duti back from the shop, I’ve given some thought to all the bikes I have. Currently I have five bikes, listed in the order I got them:
- Raleigh Crested Butte
- Schwinn Heavy Duti
- Bantam Rambleneur
- Raleigh Superbe
- Robin Hood Path Racer
Five bikes. It’s stayed the same amount since early 2018, when the Robin Hood entered the fleet. I haven’t gotten rid of a bike since 2015, when the Raleigh Wayfarer was scrapped. (The front fork and rear wheel of that bike lives on the Robin Hood.) At the end of this year, four of the five bikes I will have had for five years or more. There was a time in my life where five years was the longest I’d own a bike, now most of my bikes are passing or beyond that threshold.
In short, that’s a whole lotta stasis. But is that bad?
The period from 2006 to 2015 was a time of personal bike discovery. From 2006 to 2009 I got my first nice bike (Centurion Accordo), my first bike modification (a Univega Safari ten speed converted to three speed), my first touring bike (Surly Long Haul Trucker), and my second bike modification (Centurion Le Mans ten speed converted to single speed.) Then in 2010 I started down the road of vintage three speeds and mountain bikes. This discovery period culminated with my receipt of a custom bike, the Bantam.
At this point, where else can I go? I could modify the existing bikes, as I have done with the Crested Butte and Heavy Duti. But why? After years of trial and error with other bikes, the Bantam, Raleigh Superbe, and Robin Hood are set up the way I wanted them. And now the Heavy Duti is a three speed, which is as far as I wanted to go with a bike that was intended to be the “beater.” From here on out, it’ll be tweaks and replacements of parts. The urge for continuous modifications and reinventions is no longer there. I’m happy with how my bikes are, and can’t get anything more out of them.
This isn’t to say I don’t ever want to get another bike. There’s a few bicycles I’d consider getting. For example, I wouldn’t mind a Brompton, as they’re great travel bikes. With the current COVID world, a travel bike isn’t a priority, and they aren’t cheap. A true cargo bike would be useful, maybe another cycle truck. They aren’t cheap, either. I’ve toyed with the idea of a fat bike, which would be a priority if I moved to a snowy climate, but otherwise it’d seem like a novelty.* Or a plus-tire “adventure” bike, but I barely do bikepacking with the Bantam. Is another bike really the answer?
Maybe at some point I’d get another custom bike. I didn’t get my first custom until I knew what I wanted, and five years later I can envision what my second one could be: a steel city bike for upright riding, set up for an internally geared hub (three or five speed) and either hub or disc brakes, fattish tires (either 26″ or maybe 650B)** and possibly integrated racks. I’d envision this bike as a way to elegantly cull the fleet, as it would take the place of two or maybe three of the bikes I already own. But a new custom costs $$$, money I don’t have. And if I got several thousand dollars, I need to pay down my debt first. So a new custom is just a dream for now.
And this brings me back to the debate I have with myself: Do I have too many bikes? While five bikes pales in comparison to the collections of some other folks, I still think it’s a bit unwieldy. I don’t need this many bikes, especially since there’s now quite a bit of overlap. I start thinking about bringing it to a more manageable number, like three. Three means I’ll have variety, and backup bikes when something’s wrong with another. The problem with this idea is I can’t think of a bike I want to get rid of. And I worry that if I did, I’d end up selling it for less than I want, and probably miss it after I sold it. And then I worry that I spend more time thinking about all this, when I should be spending creative energy on mental endeavors. Such is my life.
In the meantime I’ll enjoy the bikes I have. And I got enough!
*No disrespect to those of you who like fat bikes, but that’s my opinion.
**With hub or disc brakes, I could easily switch the wheel size.