Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thinning the Herd

Thinking about unloading stuff (the act of which is well underway), it struck me the other day that I'm going to have to thin my herd of bicycles. My next home is likely to be a small rented house or part of a house, principally because there is little else in terms of housing stock in Southborough -- if I could move to a complex, I would. Whatever that destination looks like, my storage capacity will be radically smaller than what I have today. I had three bikes at my condo in Waltham, plus my ex-wife's pair, and those five were about three too many. I have five of my own today, plus a parts bike plus three bikes for the girls. Nine is way more than five, and way, way more than two. Some simplification is clearly in order, here.

In a way, having to offload any of my bikes is really too bad. But it's also liberating to rethink my approach to cycling after years of specialization. Let's look at what I have to work with:

The Kestrel 200SCi: As I've said before, I love this bike. It's the one investment in a toy that I've ever made that I still look at without an iota of regret. And it's just a joy to ride -- the first stroke of every ride bringing a smile to my face. Unfortunately, it's also getting old and I'm starting to worry that that the carbon fork or frame will come apart on me (and there's really no good time for that to happen). I'll keep it for now, but am considering buying a Rivendell Roadeo frameset, then building it up with the Kestrel's components, and packing the Kestrel's frameset away for posterity.

The Schwinn Sports Tourer: I built this up from a frameset and really appreciate its versatility. It will go pretty much anywhere I want it to go, and it's geared low enough that my legs can get us there. It's the only racked bike I have right now, and I'd like to use it for commuting or overnight trips or what-have-you. The bike doesn't ride as well as the Kestrel or Motobecane, but with its stout tubing and rack eyelets, it serves a purpose those bikes can't. I don't see myself keeping it forever, but for now this one makes sense to keep. I think.

The Motobecane Grand Touring: This was a gift from my friend Steven, but I've put a couple hundred dollars into a rebuild and hours of labor into making it my own. This mongrel has some issues (like a messed up seatpost lug and having been hit with an ugly stick, given its current fork and accessories), but it's a truly lovely ride and I just adore the bike. Unfortunately, it can't match the Schwinn's versatility, so I can't really choose this one over the Schwinn. It would be a shame to lose this one altogether, though, so I may see if a friend wants to pick it up.

The Paramount Series 20 PDG: As mountain bikes go, this is nothing special, but the bike and I go way back, and I'd rather not let it go. If I can't bear to sell it, what I may do is drop it at my folks' house, pick up the Trek 930 my dad has sitting in his den, and sell that bike instead of this one. That way it'll stay in the family.

The Columbia clunker: There's really no way to justify keeping this one. I have a fork for it, rims and hubs that I could build into wheels for it, new bars, and stem and seatpost, etc. I even have a parts Columbia that I still haven't raided for the kickstand, but need to. But this one was bought to serve a role that just isn't going to make sense anymore, if it ever did. I'll install enough to make it sellable, then offload it on eBay, along with most of the contents of my parts boxes.

And there's also the trailer bike plus one bike each for the girls, all three of which I need to keep.

Pulling the trigger as above would take me from four active-duty bikes and a project to two bikes, period. One would be a racy road bike and the other a versatile all-rounder for family and overnight rides. I like the relative simplicity of the idea, though it's not a stretch to imagine going further -- all the way down to one bike. I could offload all of them and pick up a Rivendell A Homer Hilsen with a spare set of wheels to support different gearing and tires (for versatility). I could do the same with the Schwinn, I suppose, but at a less premium level.

But as nice as a Hilsen would be, paring down to one bike is probably overkill. I savor the differences between bikes, and I'm not sure that's something I want to deny myself. The idea, after all, is to simplify, not punish myself for past excesses.

All for now,


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