Rule #12: The Fine Print

Rule #12. Someone was working overtime to come up with this beauty. One should always be dreaming about the next bike unless the next bike means divorce, restraining orders and/or living in a van down by the river. Velominati need and enjoy having some limits set as were are prone to excess in all things.

S-1. I learned an important lesson the first time I was brought down to Frank’s basement bicycle stable. There, at least four badass bikes were hanging on the wall and he was quick to point out that two of them were his partners. And her #1 was better than his #1; you have to make sure she has a better bike than you.

That was all that needed to be said. The deep wisdom of it was obvious and obviously passed down through the ages. Unless you are a professional (you are not), you are paying for your bikes (you are) and if your finances are shared with a partner, pay attention. The best way of not getting to s-1 is to make sure your partner’s #1 is nicer than yours. All upgrades to your own bike barely merit discussion as long as said upgrades don’t improve it past you know what.

So your partner is not a cyclist? That does complicate things. Whatever they love the most, upgrade it beyond reason. She loves to read and her book group is her favorite thing? Make believe you actually want to join it (?!), to scare her, then don’t. That is like an upgrade, in that you are not ruining the thing she most enjoys.

I’ve been trying this for a long time. I tried unsuccessfully to gift my fiancée a new racing bike instead of an engagement ring. While that bombed badly, I did learn. After I finally bought out the clone, my wife ended up with the LBS owner’s Merlin and you best believe shop owners tend to have the best bike in the shop. Before I finally upgraded to a carbon bike I made sure my wife was already upgraded to something better. And just yesterday, as she was putting her front carbon tubular wheel (yes, slightly lighter than mine) in the back of the truck, I saw her kiss it. Yes, brothers and sisters, these things do pay off.

If you want n+1, start planning for partner’s n+1. It’s going to cost, but it is going to be fun, and it’s better than s-1.

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74 Replies to “Rule #12: The Fine Print”

  1. Yeah, this is smart stuff–the kind of smart that only makes immediate sense to you after you’ve failed repeatedly to understand and implement it, to your cost. And by “you” and “your,” I mean “me” and “my.”

    My newish #1 is nicer than her road bike. But her new graveur is much nicer than my graveur

  2. The missus gets the best vehicle. A twin turbo six w/300+ ft-lb of flat torque curve. Seven transmission speeds and all wheel drive. It’s nice. Very. She doesn’t mind me getting a bike or two. We have 3(n+1) in the house with myself and the two kiddos. I love building bikes for the kids more than myself. Her bike is a pristine Trek in purple fade that was purchased new around 20 years ago. Maybe 20 miles on that bike. There’s no n+1 there. Simply, n. If she wanted one though… yes, you can bet it’d be nicest one in garage. I am in agreement with the thesis being presented.

    The Basso in the photograph is flat out gorgeous. Wow.

  3. My wife’s #1 bike cost more than mine but I have little headroom for more upgrades in relative valuation. The CR wheels I’m about to order will put me in violation of the Gianni Clause of Rule #12.  Does the fact she has MORE bikes than me factor into the n+1 equation? (Also of note is that one of them is a 1991 LeMond Buenos Aires.)

    Please advise.

  4. I’m old school = my bitch stays home to fix me a good recovery meal and to clean up my cycling kit.

  5. @wilburrox

    The missus gets the best vehicle.

    Yep. My bike is nicer than hers, but her’s is still pretty. But her Sky blows my beater, former rental, 110K miles SUV out of the water. Of course, I secretly like being able to treat that thing like it’s a beater, former rental, 110K miles SUV :)

  6. @Chipomarc

    I’m old school = my bitch stays home to fix me a good recovery meal and to clean up my cycling kit.

    So I take it you are single!

  7. Frank Vandenbroucke would be racing with Team Cannondale for the 2016 season if it weren’t for that Sarah Pinacci poisoning him.

  8. I have a shit car ,the wife a Beemer SUV with a V8 which practically drives itself. So I am able to make up for it in bikes . Have mentioned occasionally on this site my 40th Anniversary Marinoni . Sometimes I think I look at it more than I ride it . Built up with manic attention to detail it blossomed into one of finest looking bikes that I have ever seen . Problem is I can sure build up a frame but when it comes to computers am in the first grade . Hope to post a photo of it someday when some kind person shows me how.

  9. @Owen

    @wilburrox

    The missus gets the best vehicle.

    Yep. My bike is nicer than hers, but her’s is still pretty. But her Sky blows my beater, former rental, 110K miles SUV out of the water. Of course, I secretly like being able to treat that thing like it’s a beater, former rental, 110K miles SUV :)

    That’s what ya call a luxury car in my opinion. It’d be what I drive. Paid for, starts every time and if a kid drops a bike across the paint ? No biggie. Cheers

  10. I like the fact that the Mrs has no real idea about cycling apart from bikes have 2 x wheels, handlebars & a saddle..

    Her bike does the job for the limited family cycling outings & my n+1 is just mouth watering consisting of all the precious metals, compounds ones two wheeled beauts should be made of!

    P.s her wardrobe/shoe collection is obscene & is the trade off, oh & I treat her like a princess too..  :D

  11. @Uncle V

    I have a shit car ,the wife a Beemer SUV with a V8 which practically drives itself. So I am able to make up for it in bikes . Have mentioned occasionally on this site my 40th Anniversary Marinoni . Sometimes I think I look at it more than I ride it . Built up with manic attention to detail it blossomed into one of finest looking bikes that I have ever seen . Problem is I can sure build up a frame but when it comes to computers am in the first grade . Hope to post a photo of it someday when some kind person shows me how.

    Step 1 Login

    Step 2 Select Camera Icon which you will then find top of the posting section above the text format options

    Step 3 select photo

    Step 4 Post

  12. I upgraded the lawnmower to one my VMW can start and she loves it.  Only topped by some years ago coming home with a car full of wood to build a set of compost bins.  Her colleagues did’t quite get it when she told them at work “My husband is so romantic, he came home yesterday with a car full of wood to build me some custom compost bins”.  They couldn’t believe she meant it.  Current set are built out of reclaimed pallets.

    Gianni you have a great point though, maybe my custom steel frame is hidden in an Acer upgrade, a rare Apple tree or another Rose (or two).

  13. Between the 4 of us, Wife, 2 tin lids, we have 9 steeds.

    As others have said, Wife gets the blacked out black on black turbo diesel SUV.   I got the shit box Commodore but my N is the pick of the bunch.

    Rule #25 applies when my bike on top of my car,  certainly not when atop my wifes.

  14. My #1’s #1 (which is her only one unless you count my old Bridgestone MB-2 that we can share if I swap stems) isn’t better than my #1, but it’s her #1 and the #1 she wanted and she loves it. That’s what matter most.

  15. @wilburrox

    Who needs kids dropping bikes on it when a grown-ass man can do it? Luckily for me she’s not quite tall enough to see over the roof :)

  16. @Chipomarc

    Frank Vandenbroucke would be racing with Team Cannondale for the 2016 season if it weren’t for that Sarah Pinacci poisoning him.

    That’s a good point. And Ricardo (?) Ricco would be there too if his girlfriend had done a better job of storing his transfused, CERA laced blood in a refrigerator instead of a dresser drawer.

  17. @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, this is smart stuff–the kind of smart that only makes immediate sense to you after you’ve failed repeatedly to understand and implement it, to your cost. And by “you” and “your,” I mean “me” and “my.”

    My newish #1 is nicer than her road bike. But her new graveur is much nicer than my graveur.

    Well played. You can’t go wrong putting her on a beautiful bike like that. If you are contending with multiple bike categories, you do have to pick your battles.

  18. @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, this is smart stuff–the kind of smart that only makes immediate sense to you after you’ve failed repeatedly to understand and implement it, to your cost. And by “you” and “your,” I mean “me” and “my.”

    My newish #1 is nicer than her road bike. But her new graveur is much nicer than my graveur.

    That lady needs a V-Kit. Her bars already match it.

    @BacklashJack

    My wife’s #1 bike cost more than mine but I have little headroom for more upgrades in relative valuation. The CR wheels I’m about to order will put me in violation of the Gianni Clause of Rule #12.  Does the fact she has MORE bikes than me factor into the n+1 equation? (Also of note is that one of them is a 1991 LeMond Buenos Aires.)

    Please advise.

    It depends entirely on her psychology; if she values quantity over quality, perhaps. But if you’re only using it as a technicality to get more totally rad machines, she will see through it like Gianni’s VMH saw through the engagement ring ploy.

  19. @Chipomarc

    Frank Vandenbroucke would be racing with Team Cannondale for the 2016 season if it weren’t for that Sarah Pinacci poisoning him.

    My VMH has mentioned that if she ever finds me cheating, she’ll start poisoning me, not fatally, but enough to make sure my riding really suffers and that I don’t realize why I keep getting slower.

    Ingeniously sinister.

  20. @Gianni

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, this is smart stuff–the kind of smart that only makes immediate sense to you after you’ve failed repeatedly to understand and implement it, to your cost. And by “you” and “your,” I mean “me” and “my.”

    My newish #1 is nicer than her road bike. But her new graveur is much nicer than my graveur.

    Well played. You can’t go wrong putting her on a beautiful bike like that. If you are contending with multiple bike categories, you do have to pick your battles.

    We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the VMH’s Veloforma CCX, custom-painted, of course. This puts her at two CX bikes to my one. Daddy needs a track bike, or a pit bike.

  21. @Barracuda

    Between the 4 of us, Wife, 2 tin lids, we have 9 steeds.

    Me and Mrs Sandy have 3 each (road bike, mtn bike, commuter), and my son has 3 x balance bikes and 3 x pedal bikes, with another pedal bike on the way. To be fair, we keep getting handed down bikes for him to grow into but we’ve realised if we want to get him pedalling we need to invest in a tiny pedal bike to do him the next year.

    Can you believe a bike for a 4 year old is nearly as heavy as my #1?

  22. Hi. My kids have very heavy Raleigh bikes (rationalised as cheaper but what I’d have dreamed of as a kid). Then after some serious feedback from my better half, at twice the cost and half the weight they now have ISLA bikes. So much lighter and easier to handle. P.s. I’m sure Raleigh were lighter when we were kids.

    V informative website. Cheers, Rhods

  23. The rock on my better half’s finger cost more Merkels than my #1 and my nine bike put together. Also, her car is worth approx 10 times mine, which, appropriately, is worth less than my #1. I’m sure there’s a mathematical equasion in there somewhere!

  24. @brett

    Holy shit, that Basso!

    Save for the color of the handlebar tape, that looks identical to my friend’s Basso that I coveted so much.

  25. @DavyMoore

    The rock on my better half’s finger cost more Merkels than my #1 and my nine bike put together. Also, her car is worth approx 10 times mine, which, appropriately, is worth less than my #1. I’m sure there’s a mathematical equasion in there somewhere!

    What I believe would be called a balanced equation.

  26. @wilburrox

    Such is the nature of an equation! Although balance does not equate fairness. I still get the “we have a child to feed” talk if I come within 100m of the LBS.

  27. @frank

    @Chipomarc

    Frank Vandenbroucke would be racing with Team Cannondale for the 2016 season if it weren’t for that Sarah Pinacci poisoning him.

    My VMH has mentioned that if she ever finds me cheating, she’ll start poisoning me, not fatally, but enough to make sure my riding really suffers and that I don’t realize why I keep getting slower.

    Ingeniously sinister.

    Has it occured to you that this may have already started..?

  28. @frank

    @Gianni

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, this is smart stuff–the kind of smart that only makes immediate sense to you after you’ve failed repeatedly to understand and implement it, to your cost. And by “you” and “your,” I mean “me” and “my.”

    My newish #1 is nicer than her road bike. But her new graveur is much nicer than my graveur.

    Well played. You can’t go wrong putting her on a beautiful bike like that. If you are contending with multiple bike categories, you do have to pick your battles.

    We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the VMH’s Veloforma CCX, custom-painted, of course. This puts her at two CX bikes to my one. Daddy needs a track bike, or a pit bike.

    Track bike…there is no other option…just sayin…

  29. Slow poison?  Maybe I should worry about that.  My wife occasionally refers to my bike as my mistress.  Experience has taught me to let the comment go.

  30. @Teocalli

    @Uncle V

    I have a shit car ,the wife a Beemer SUV with a V8 which practically drives itself. So I am able to make up for it in bikes . Have mentioned occasionally on this site my 40th Anniversary Marinoni . Sometimes I think I look at it more than I ride it . Built up with manic attention to detail it blossomed into one of finest looking bikes that I have ever seen . Problem is I can sure build up a frame but when it comes to computers am in the first grade . Hope to post a photo of it someday when some kind person shows me how.

    Step 1 Login

    Step 2 Select Camera Icon which you will then find top of the posting section above the text format options

    Step 3 select photo

    Step 4 Post

    Just gotta find my camera now . Think one of my 3 Chihuahua,s located it and quite possibly chewed it up then hid it somewhere . Started out with one of these little hellions and ended up with 3 Seems I am not only compliant with Rule #12 regarding bikes but also with creatures of the 4 legged variety .

  31. @rhods

    Hi. My kids have very heavy Raleigh bikes (rationalised as cheaper but what I’d have dreamed of as a kid). Then after some serious feedback from my better half, at twice the cost and half the weight they now have ISLA bikes. So much lighter and easier to handle. P.s. I’m sure Raleigh were lighter when we were kids.

    V informative website. Cheers, Rhods

    Thinking of going for a halfway house between the Raleigh and the Isla, in either a Ridgeback or a Saracen – not as light as an Isla but lots lighter than the cheaper bikes. I’m pretty sure I’ve spent longer deciding on my son’s bike than I did choosing mine.

  32. Love the Basso, beautiful.

    My wife doesn’t ride, so I have to buy a large, heavy and usually expensive piece of furniture to compensate for any n+1 related purchases. Quite often I don’t even like the piece of furniture, but don’t really care if I can manage to improve my bike purchase positioning..

  33. Thankfully, my VMH and I are very similarly sized. She has an old Takara to ride around town on, but I gifted her my De Bernardi that I wasn’t riding enough. Going from DT shifters to 105 5700 10-s shifters was a revelation. It’s not nicer than my road bikes, but it is a nice road bike and she’s happy. Plus, the only thing I need to do is swap the saddle and I can ride it! I’ve tried to get her a cross bike, but she doesn’t love the “thrill” of possible washouts.

    Yes, that lead Basso is a stunner!

  34. @Haldy

    @frank

    @Chipomarc

    Frank Vandenbroucke would be racing with Team Cannondale for the 2016 season if it weren’t for that Sarah Pinacci poisoning him.

    My VMH has mentioned that if she ever finds me cheating, she’ll start poisoning me, not fatally, but enough to make sure my riding really suffers and that I don’t realize why I keep getting slower.

    Ingeniously sinister.

    Has it occured to you that this may have already started..?

    It has, actually. Although she’s have gotten it wrong…

  35. @TommyTubolare

    @brett

    Yeah nice. Shame about the front wheel though. Spoke pattern is wrong.

    Ouch, sharp eye! I only got as far as the lack of gum walls and the brake lavers being mounted too low. But that wheel is fucked, isn’t it?

  36. @mouse

    The valve should be between almost parallel spokes, i.e., two spokes forward or back from where it is.

  37. @Uncle V

    Plus 1 to that. Especially if the partner is not a cyclist, it’s safe to follow the guidance that the bike on top of your car should be worth more than the car; however, the bike plus the car should be worth less than the partner’s car. That should keep you on the safe side of s.

  38. @Gianni

    Pedant alert!

    Sure you meant to end with “…it’s better than s bikes.” as if you have s-1 bikes you are still safe and coupled up?

    I believe, though won’t be testing for at least 24 months, that at present I am at s-3 as I could justify adding a track bike (once licenced for the london velodrome) and a mountain bike.

    David

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