On the number of bikes I own

You may have noticed that over the past few months I reduced the number of bikes in the stable by two. First, realizing that after almost nine years of tweaking, my Raleigh Crested Butte was never going to fit, so I sold it. Then the issues of using a “donor” frame bore bad fruit with my Robin Hood, so that got mothballed. From five bikes down to three, the smallest my fleet had been, with a few small windows, in years.

At the beginning of September I brought the Raleigh Superbe into the shop. It needed brake work (new pads, mostly) and I wanted to make sure it was ready for the wet season. No sweat, I still have the Bantam if I wanted to go on a “ride” ride, which happened to be the next day.

That was not to happen.

Just rolling out of the driveway I noticed that the bike wasn’t shifting, no matter how much I tried. This has happened at least two times before, the first time in 2017 when I attempted to ride the La Conner Seersucker Social. What happens is that I have an extra pulley mounted to the rear derailleur which gives more “pull” to the derailleur/shifter combo. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to use all 10 gears. But it is finicky, and if it gets knocked out of place, the bike don’t shift. So much for that.

I brought the Bantam in as well. To fix the issue, the shop ordered a new shifter, which is more than just fixing the pulley. But I realize that this pulley is bunk, and I don’t want this to happen on a bike tour when I’m in the middle of nowhere on a bike that is now a single-speed (a single-speed in the highest gear).

So for almost a week I was relegated to one bike, and that happens to be the Schwinn Heavy Duti. And riding it around I definitely was feeling the “heavy”. I’ve done all I can to it to make it work better: front brakes, three speeds. It’s still my clunker, and rides more than 10 miles are a chore. Now part of this is me: I haven’t been riding much lately, so I feel slow on all of my bikes. But on the Heavy Duti? Oof. I REALLY feel it.

I had a brief Mary Kondo moment and thought about getting rid of it since it wasn’t bringing me joy. Down to only two bikes? But I don’t want to make a rash decision. I won’t think seriously about it until perhaps spring. (I’m done with selling bikes as we go into winter.) It still is a fun bike, and is useful as “the bike I care least about”.

If anything, the moment made me think wistfully about the Crested Butte. I did love that bike, but there was the whole fit issue. But there are more vintage mountain bikes out there, I could find another one and dress it up. Maybe? Or maybe not. I like the idea of having another old MTB in the fleet, but I don’t know if I want to spend the time and energy to refurbish one. The days when I looked forward to endless bike projects are in the past. I would rather spend my energy on more creative things, things that could make me some money.

And there’s another reason why I’m hesitant to just recreate the Crested Butte: I just don’t want to keep on making the same bike, again and again. Maybe I should try something different. Maybe my bike tastes have changed, and it’s time to move on.

I’m still happy with the Superbe and the Bantam. I have two really nice bike that suit my tastes and are diverse in use. That’s a good base to build from. What happens next is to be seen.

6 thoughts on “On the number of bikes I own

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  1. Your experience with the Raleigh reminds me of a 1973 Schwinn Collegiate Sport I owned for several years. It was given to me. It was a fine bicycle, in all original condition, and I liked riding it. But the frame was simply too small, and any ride of more than a few miles left me cramped and aching. I finally rehomed the bike, but I still sort of miss it.

  2. Oh boy do I hear you! Bravo on owning only 3 bikes. it’s so good to free up space in your life for whatever comes next – and that isn’t necessarily another bike.

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