Managing bike envy
I have a bike quandary so I thought I’d solicit opinions.
I have two bikes: my pink beat around MTB commuter and my road bike. This is about my road bike.
I love my road bike – it’s an old steel De Bernardi with Campy parts that I picked up used from a friend who got it from a friend. People who know bikes compliment it. It’s fun to ride and super smooth and comfy.
But lately I’ve been getting road bike envy. I usually do 4-5 triathlons a year, and gee whiz, the bikes there are fancy!
So I started thinking about getting a newer (lighter? faster?) road bike, and then I could put flat pedals on my steel road bike for commuting, and save my MTB for winter and grocery trips.
I don’t think I want a tri bike because I don’t do enough triathlons to justify a single purpose bike for them.
So help me, please, message board.
Would a newer, lighter bike really make a difference in sprint tri races? Would I feel the difference really if I stay in the $500-800 range (used), or do I need to get up to the $1500 bikes to really notice?
Or do I just have bike envy and I should be happy with my steel bike? In other words, should I love the one I’m with?
You’ll notice some difference but not a lot.
I think the real advantage would be having another bike in the quiver. It sounds like with a dedicated road bike you could really put your other road bike to good use, and that’s great.
I would not relegate your DeBernardi to a commuter, it sounds too nice. Consider getting a second set of lighter, higher performance wheels for when you want to gofast, that’s where the real performance leap will be. Newer fancy frame and parts are big money, diminishing returns, and will only seem fancy for a while.
Do similar to your mtn bike, narrower lighter tires to upgrade that performance for commuting as well.
But, down the road if you still want to get something fancy for it’s own sake, that’s always fine too.
Ah – which brings up secret option 3: get a faster commuter and keep pink bike for winter/groceries.
Or just ride my road bike to work some days, ride my pink bike other days, and save the money completely. In other words, love both of the ones I’m with.
Locked to a bike rack in a private, locked garage under my building with cameras – super safe.
But I do sometimes go to the gym before I come here, so there can be about 90 minutes of it being U-locked to a bike rack Downtown outside of the Y.
I tend to think if you get an aluminum road bike you’d feel a fair amount of performance improvement over your steel frame. Wheels definitely make a big difference but don’t know if you can find nice wheels for an older campy bike?
Just be careful, bike envy can be a very slippery slope & there are many shiny things out there to tempt you. Just remember that some of those top end bikes might be fast, but they may not be as fun to ride due to their more compact geometry and may require more maintenance. That’s ok if you are racing, but not so good for a spin around town.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is usually only made worse by further purchases.
The cure is laughter.
I enjoy commuting in a “race” bike far more than any other bike I own. I am faster, rain bothers me far less (I believe this is dumb luck with sizing), and the bike is fun to ride.
I have a 43 yr old steel Italian road bike, that I’ve owned for 38, love it, relaxed geometry, great ride. We could never part (see left).
A shitty old 40 lb. Trek mtn bike commuter conversion from CL for $50 that has allowed me to commute in any conditions, it’s fun to ride, it doesn’t give a rat’s about potholes, and I don’t care what happens, except I am loving it most of all.
A shiny 2008 Kona road bike that I paid a lot for because I felt like I should have something shiny and new for Sundays. Least in love with.
I don’t really have envy for anything new, more often I long for things that no one makes. Like I would kind of like a 20 lb crabon fiber version of my crappy Trek.
This is all convincing me I just need to ride my road bike to work more. I do like how much faster it is than my mountain bike. And every time I ride it, I tell my husband how much I love it.
But like you Edmonds, I also love that I can slam my mountain bike up and down off of curbs and potholes and that I can haul a million things in the milk crate I have strapped to it.
It’s a good pairing of bikes for sure.
What are the logistics on putting skinnier wheels on a MTB? I do have slick commuter tires on it, but they are still awfully wide. Is this a reasonable thing to consider, or would it require a lot of work?
Clearly I am still learning about the mechanical side of all of this.
I’m of the opinion that anything wider than 35 mm is inappropriate for riding on the road, even with potholes and curb hopping. As long as the rim isn’t wider than the tire, putting skinner tires on your MTB isn’t any more work than fixing a flat.
@ ken Kaminski I’m of the opinion that anything wider than 35 mm is inappropriate for riding on the road,
I love my 38’s!
On my beater just changed tires and tubes to Michelin City 26 x 1.4’s (equal to abt 35 mm w.), with reflecty sidewalls as well! on the wheels it came with.
If you want a race bike buy a Chinese ebay frame. Best deal out there in the bike world.
The answer is always more bikes. It doesn’t even matter what the question was.
i knew you were gonna say that. we have too many. we have problems.
I am experiencing some severe cognitive dissonance. “too many bikes” is that some sort of zen koan or something?
+1 cheap bikes
My $20 80’s Schwinn frame is getting more attention than my 22x as expensive Trek (which, relative to what people spend on bikes that sit in their garage 360 days of the year, is still nothing)
You could probably get a cheap road bike that’s good for commuting (I’m thinking used, but cheap is a relative term)
Also, I’m wondering how much more comfortable your road bike is than your MTB. Probably due to poor fit, my road bike is noticeably better on my back than my hybrid is. Maybe you have a similar situation?
I’m sort of in the same boat. Decided to get a road bike so I could stop abusing my commuter. Now trying not to buy the fanciest damn thing in the world.
edit; this isn’t useful, just saying you’re not alone. I think the only answer is more bikes.
The optimal amount of bikes = (n+1). N being the amount you currently own.
This is true. I only listed the 3 I have that were relevant to the question. I have X more.
I should have known that the answer would always be more bikes.
But now I’m wondering if the answer is a fancier road bike, or a less fancy road bike for commuting. I might just keep my eyes open for both.
Interestingly, this is how I got my third dog – we decided it was time to get a third dog, and 4 weeks later, my friend found a stray who needed a home. Maybe bikes, like dogs, find their people. Or maybe I’m sleep deprived today and rambling.
Pierce, as far as comfort, I actually find both of my bikes to be very comfortable – just different.
A fancy road bike doesn’t necessarily make the best commuter, so I can’t say I like that solution.
Also more bikes isn’t necessarily the answer… not that I’m not guilty of blowing money on stuff I don’t need, but we are talking about spending money on something you don’t really need, if that helps you resist the urge to give in to consumerism…
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 2:15pm #
I doubt you will notice a difference in your times. Even if you jumped up to a really expensive bike in the $5K range the time difference wouldn’t be all that much. The motor is more important when it comes to cycling.
On the other hand, it is always fun to get a new bike. Last new one I purchased was in the late 80’s though.
I’m probably not contributing much here, but I sense your need to grow the stable and redefine the velo-roles. That’s a given; the hesitation and the question is often the response/pushback from the other humans in your support team.
I recommend quipping:
Many bikes, One Spouse.
Repeat as necessary.
it is fun to change bikes enough that they feel new. i recently took my old specialized hybrid, bought new wheels and tires, shifters, fenders, and a shiny new nitto north roads handlebar with cork grips, and i can’t stop riding the thing. i haven’t touched my road bike in like a month.
@dmtroyer: the only problem is the shifters are trigger style, because i already had them sitting around. i couldn’t justify dropping fresh dollars on bar end shifters when i had these things new-in-box just gathering dust.
yeah, bar-ends are nice but often not the cheapest things in the world. you could go with some friction thumbies
don’t forget that fancy road bikes aren’t going to come with a stock low gear that your mountain bikes has, if your thinking of switching from a mnt bike to a road bike for commuting. look at the gear ratio your climbing in on with your mnt bike and maybe make sure you get that on your road bike. Oh and on tire size – You can get 1 1/4 inch wide tires for your mnt bike
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 4:46pm #
Ladies and gentlemen,
Don’t forget Pinky tries to upgrade racing bike where seconds matter. I would say go for fancy road bike with 105 or higher.
Problem is, if you’re serious about triathlons, you need a triathlon bike. Not because it’s lighter or the equipment is more aerodynamic, but it puts you in a better position to (a) save your quads for the run, and (b) get in a better body position.
Unfortunately, tri-bikes are pretty unsuitable for road riding because you lose a good bit of maneuverability and it moves your shifters to the aerobar ends.
The answer goes back to, the correct number of bikes is n+1.
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 6:40pm #
“Problem is, if you’re serious about triathlons, you need a triathlon bike. Not because it’s lighter or the equipment is more aerodynamic, but it puts you in a better position to (a) save your quads for the run, and (b) get in a better body position.”
Yeah that’s part of it too – figuring out my level of “serious.”
I mean, I do like placing in my age group, which I’ve done a couple of times. But for me it’s more of a fun thing to do and aim for than a truly competitive thing.
I mostly got into tris because I like to swim, I like to bike, and I like to run. Many of the other tri people I talk to love one of those things, and either tolerate or dread the other two.
I like to ride my bike to go for a bike ride, not necessarily to clock X miles in Y minutes. But if upgrading to a newer road bike will help speed me up, I’m not opposed to the idea.
So, yeah, n+1.
Without knowing a bit more about your bike, I’d guess you’re not likely to find something much better unless you start looking in the multi-thousand dollar range. Unless your bike is beat, it sounds pretty nice.
A dedicated TT/tri bike will definitely make you faster at triathlons, but you have to decide if it’s worth the $1000 per minute off your time. Also, if you do get a tri bike, get a professional fit from someone who understands aero positions. With a bad position you lose most of the potential benefit.
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