How many bicycles do I need?

You need to own all the bicycles that will allow you to do the type of riding you enjoy.

Everyone who rides a bicycle starts with one bicycle. Nobody launches into cycling with a stable of bikes. But eventually, or sooner than that, most bike riders start to consider the idea that more than one bike would be great.

Here are some reasons I’ve heard about why you might need another bike.

  • Your current bike is too slow or too old or too heavy or too ‘not carbon’. So you need one that is faster/newer/lighter/made from carbon.
  • Sometimes your “best” bike is unavailable because it is being serviced by a professional or has been serviced by you or has a flat tyre or has torn bar tape or the DI2 battery is flat. You need a second bike for the days when you can’t ride your first bike.
  • You have a road bike but you need a mountain bike. ‘Cos mountain biking is cool.
  • You have a mountain bike and a road bike, but you need a gravel bike. ‘Cos gravel biking is cool.
  • You have a mountain bike but you need a road bike. Not sure why, have never actually heard this one.
  • You have a commuter bike but you need an e-bike. ‘Cos e-biking is great on days when you don’t feel like riding.

And so on ad infinitum. This sequence is called N+1.

The number of bikes that a bike rider should own is often expressed as N+1, where N is the current number of bikes you own. For many riders however, the number of bikes you actually own is more practically expressed as S-1, where S (for separation) is the number of bikes owned which would cause your significant other to leave you (presumably for a non-bike rider).

N+1 is of course a frivolous answer, and because none of us really have endless funds or a shed big enough to house all the bikes, the question still remains. How many bikes should I own?

My answer to the question, how many bikes do you need? One. You only need one bike … of each type.

I only have one road bike, one cyclocross bike, one commuting/touring bike, one mountain bike and one e-bike. (Update: and one folding bike).

But I have curated my fleet so that each bike also serves the adjacent purpose if required. So if my road bike is not in service for whatever reason, my cyclocross bike only needs a three-minute tyre change to be ready for a dash to Wynnum with the bunch. The mountain bike is good for dirt road adventure touring, as well as singletrack Sunday. The commuter/tourer can just about fill any role at a pinch, except maybe singletrack.

So for me, one (of each) bike is enough, and serves all my purposes.

But I’m not you, and many of my friends take a different approach. Some have several bikes of the same type. Some even have many bikes of the same brand. Some collect bikes, some collect bike parts and turn them into complete bikes.

So what is the right number of bikes to own? One.

Well, it’s a start anyway.

#bikes #cycling #touring #commuting #bikeshed

Andrew Demack @briztreadley