This helps make a bike special.

On Rule #12: The Bike #1 Paradox

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  1. Rule #12 //
    The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

    While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

The only parents who proclaim to have a favorite child are the ones who have only one; all the other ones pretend they don’t have a favorite because they are each “different and special in their own way”. It’s complete bollocks, that, and we all know every parent does in fact have a favorite, but we like the lie more than we like the truth, so we all play along.

Rule #12 poses a similar conundrum, one in which we tell ourselves the same lie: we love all our bikes equally. Which we don’t, of course; we all have a favorite. A friend recently asked me how one goes about the business of judging which bike is your favorite and even as I told the usual lie, I was performing the calculus as to which actually is my favorite.

Sentimentally, I’d have to say my favorite is my first love, my Bianchi EV2 which currently hangs in disrepair in the back corner of the basement, waiting to be restored to period-correct glory. Either that or my steel Bianchi TSX with simplex downtube shifters and sexy silver Campa hubs and bits. Or my Cervelo R3 which was my first carbon steed and who loyally carried me over two Cobbled Classics Keepers Tours and currently faithfully serves as my Nine Bike. Or my Veloforma CCX which was my first custom-painted bike, gloriously flying the colors of the Velominati with a V-Lion headtube badge. Or my Veloforma Strada iR which is my go-to featherweight road steed on summer rides. Apparently I’m sentimental about any bike I’ve ever suffered on, so measure turns out not to be a helpful one.

From a utility standpoint, one might suggest the #1 would be the one you ride most often, but no bike should go unridden, and we should endeavor to ride them equally. That has that one sorted as a useless measure as well. The next obvious measure would be the one we take out on special rides, irrespective of the weather or road conditions. Or perhaps it is simply the one we spent the most money on, the one that helps us observe Rule #25, but cost seems like a silly reason to prefer one bike over another.

My Bike #1 is the one that makes me feel most free, that returns me most dearly to the reasons why I started riding a bike in the first place: my Graveur. It carries me through the backcountry forest roads in Washington State, on rides that almost always start and end accompanied by my other loyal steed, our pitbull-greyhound mutt. You can’t feel more free on a bike than that.

I’ll say it again: the road is where my heart lies, but the gravel is where I find my soul. VLVV.

// Etiquette // Le Graveur // Musings from the V-Bunker // Nostalgia // The Bikes

  1. And trying to keep them all happy is so hard..especially when one set of #1’s…gets replaced by a newer set…I fear of going into the garage one morning and finding the older set of twins( the blue bar tape) decided to knock the newer set( pink tape) off their hooks at the front of the line. Using your analogy of determining the #1 bike…it would have to be the newer track bike..nothing sets my soul free like being glued to the black line and flying around a velodrome!

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  2. I don’t race my #1, a Cervelo S5. I race it’s “grandfather” a carbon soloist which has been repainted a nice glossy black. They both handle remarkably similarly, though the S5 can carve turns like no other. My logic is (as I race a lot of crits) should something befall the race bike, I will cry not quite as long as should it happen to the #1 (ridden under safer circumstances). And of course should this happen, I will then get to buy another #1, promote the S5 to race rig and continue the logic, flawed though it be.




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  3. #1 is the ine I’m riding at the moment.




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  4. @Ccos

    I don’t race my #1, a Cervelo S5. I race it’s “grandfather” a carbon soloist which has been repainted a nice glossy black. They both handle remarkably similarly, though the S5 can carve turns like no other. My logic is (as I race a lot of crits) should something befall the race bike, I will cry not quite as long as should it happen to the #1 (ridden under safer circumstances). And of course should this happen, I will then get to buy another #1, promote the S5 to race rig and continue the logic, flawed though it be.

    I use this logic with mine as well though it’s #3 that gets to carry my fat arse around a crit or road race. It ain’t the oldest or cheapest either, but absolutely brilliant across all facets of racing. The reality is that all are favourites however as frank noted above, while each of them is a favourite, that depends on the day, mood, conditions & so on. I made an informed decision, i.e. I convinced myself which one I could live without in the event of something untoward happening during a race, which seems the most likely place for it to happen, then #3 will be missed, mourned over but I will be able to move on with my life afterwards. As someone once said about having more than one child & having a favourite, at least the other child/ren can be used for spare parts in the event of a mishap.




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  5. Foul for christ sakes, somebody call the Pope.

    1. Saddle bags have no place on a road bike, and are only acceptable on mountain bikes in extreme cases.




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  6. @il ciclista medio

    As someone once said about having more than one child & having a favourite, at least the other child/ren can be used for spare parts in the event of a mishap.




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  7. Well written, sir Frank – and a nice photograph, that.

    It’s very much ‘Horses for courses’ where my stable is concerned. ‘Base’ Training rides and longer outings in rainy weather? Alloy Giant with or without fenders. Pootling along with the missus for a sunny ride? 1982 Koga Miyata Roadspeed. 2 or more hours flat-out, mouth-foaming interval sufferfest with lots of furious climbing? Carbon Dura Ace-equipped ‘Jensen’ #1.

    Have yet to cobble me a decent CCX bike together, though. And speaking of such things: you may have mentioned it here (in which case I’ve missed it, for some reason), but what became of the Nederaap? Has it been moved on to new and greener pastures?




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  8. But, for the record, I see your point about how a ‘favorite’ can gradually seem to emerge, regardless of practicalities. In my case, that would be the almost 35 year old Koga Miyata. For sentimental reasons, surely – but also because it actually IS a very nice ride – and because I – to a slightly higher degree than with the other 2, perhaps – associate it with quality time of the highest order and a care-free state of mind. (Or it’s because I’m turning into a sentimental and weak old fart, of course…)




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  9. @Mike Smith

    Foul for christ sakes, somebody call the Pope.

    1. Saddle bags have no place on a road bike, and are only acceptable on mountain bikes in extreme cases.

    Its a tubular tire, genius. If you’re going to try to call me out on a Rule Violation, you’re going to have try a lot fucking harder than that.




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  10. @Haldy

    …and of course we anthropomorphize them shamelessly.




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  11. I can abide by it, seeing how’s my n+ is the only one I’ma gonna need.

    At least until something changes my mind.




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  12. Once again well said a Frank. As parents we constantly say we gave no “favorite” but our kids know better. They know dam well who the “favorite” is. With that said I agree with you my “first” Pinarello Treviso with Athena Campy is my favorite. Reminds me why I entered our world of cycling. Now, my Love is my Merckx EMX-7 full super Record. Dosen’t get any better!!!




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  13. @frank

    @Haldy

    …and of course we anthropomorphize them shamelessly.

    Rightly so..




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  14. My favorite bike is my daughter’s road race bike. Go figure. About damn near the bike I’d have built for myself. Funny how that happened hey? She’s had much success on this bike. 2(n+1) is much fun.




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