While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is
nis the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as
sis the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
That is a very reasonable opening salvo for the Rule about bike ownership. Three is good and certainly a minimum, and we are talking road bikes here, if there was any doubt. They naturally become ordered: the #1 is ichi-ban, top dog, go-to bike for every and all rides. #2 was the old #1, it sits on the bench, always ready. By the time you get to bike #3, there is a good chance old #3 doesn’t get ridden too often, except commuting, but is that any reason not to keep #3 updated, upgraded and ready for action…just in case?
My #3 is my thirty year old steel bike. It was my #1 for many great years and great kilometers. It stayed behind on the mainland, stabled in an unheated space at my parents, waiting for me to visit them and her. And you better have a bike when visiting your parents. Sometimes the #3 has to do this kind of work. But now the Bella is back with the rest of the crew and needs to be reborn hard.
I already upgraded the steel bike whenever I could. It would not be acceptable to show up for the strade bianche granfondo on this machine despite its age. The carbone ergo levers and the 8 speed Jan Ullrich vento wheels would most likely be met with moustache twisting disapproval. I don’t want a classic steel bike with six speeds and downtube shifters, FFS. I want mine with lots of modern gears, fast wheels, better handlebars and a nice new paint job.
Besides Rule #12‘s unwritten clause stating your partner needs to be on a slightly more awesome bike than your own, the upgrade-downward cascade effect cannot be left unmentioned. Upgrading your or your partner’s #1 bike’s components can mean a shower of quality components now cascade down the line. When I upgrade my wife’s Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed to Record 11, one, she will be a full gruppo above me, flying overhead in the clouds. That frees up the slightly beaten up Chorus 11 gruppo for my slightly beaten up #3. My wife is happy, I am happy, bikes are happy, the equation balances out.