TCI Friday

TCI Friday is a participation game. Read the topic below. Then throw in your two cents. Or ten.

I don’t think I could be a lot happier with the bikes I have right now. Four of them were built for me, custom, so obviously those are winners. But then I have a couple others, stock bikes, that are bangin’ too. I feel deeply grateful for this collection of toys, and it’s tempting to think I’m clever, that I chose wisely and well, when in fact, I have been surpassingly lucky, and my current assemblage is the result of many trials and also errors.

I own custom bikes, because I was fortunate to work at a custom builder for most of the 2010s. The bikes they built me are less a reflection of my own sage specifications than their deep, deep expertise in what makes a good bike. If I did anything right, it was listening to people smarter and more experienced than I am. I sold a lot of pretty ok bikes, bikes I rode quite happily before I worked there, to get those custom dream rides.

I sold off my vintage, steel road bikes, a parade of Italian road machines that I loved more for what they represented than for how they rode. I sold off my tank cruiser and a couple fixies. I downsized to upgrade.

The stock bikes I have, primarily the Ibis Ripley I talk about endlessly on The Paceline, came to me via recommendation from a good friend and bike shop owner. I bartered some word-smithery and web development for a wholesale shot at that prize. And I won.

And so I find myself in the position that, were you to give me a blank slate and say buy yourself a slew of new bikes, I’d actually set about replacing exactly what I’ve got now. OK, it took me 30 years to find this magical place in my bike buying life, but I’m here. And it’s excellent.

This week’s TCI Friday asks you: If you had to start all over again, would you get what you have now? Or would you go in different directions? Tell us about them.

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Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    Pretty close. Wouldn’t change a thing on my old steel Mercier fixed gear. Wish I had a little more tire clearance on the Vitus commuter front fork but otherwise it’s dialed in. And I wish I’d gone with my gut and bought my Litespeed in the XL frame size instead of L, but I still love it even after 100+ miles.

  2. tcfrog says

    I can’t say I’d buy the exact same bikes, but the basic types would still be represented. A road bike – I’ve had 2 Roubaixs and have been happy with the performance so I would probably get another one; a fat tire – I have a Trek Farley 8 but don’t care much about the brand; a gravel bike – I’m already thinking about upgrading from thr Trek crockett, so this would probably change too even though I’m happy with the performance; a cargo bike – my Yuba Supermarche works well, but I might change to something with a larger rear rack and no bucket; a commuter with belt drive and internal hub – this is the only one that might not get replaced. I like it and it is convenient, but it’s a bit too niche for me and I don’t have many other uses for it other than commuting.

  3. bart says

    I would end up with the same set, but with some upgrades. I have road, gravel, and mountain. The road bike is 10 years old but does everything I could ever need it to do. If I was to re-purchase it I’d get something that is equivalent (mid-range) with some modern upgrades. The gravel bike (about 8 years old) would have some upgraded components and clearance for wider tires. The mountain bike is new to me (bike is about 2 years old) and is an entry level hard-tail. I decided to take the mountain bike plunge based on the constant communication from Robot on why I should give mountain biking a try again. So far, I think I’d replace the mountain bike with the same entry level hard-tail as I live in the midwest where I don’t see a lot of need for full-suspension (at least not yet). So, with my 3 bikes, I’m good. But two of them are getting a bit long in the tooth and could use some “modernizing” and the mountain bike still has that new-to-me feel.

  4. khal spencer says

    If I had it to do all over again with the checkbook I had then, I’d be pretty much where I am now. If I had it to do all over again and my legs and fitness–and checkbook–justified something different, then I’d likely have given my college classmate Tom Kellogg a call and had him build me a nice titanium road bike and a nice titanium touring bike instead of riding those Cannondales and the Surly.

  5. Jeff vdD says

    I’d end up where I am, mostly.

    The one bike obviously missing from my collection is a full-suspension XC/trail bike … I use my fat bike for that kind of terrain.

    On the bikes I have, I’d do a few smaller things differently. Most notably, I wouldn’t mind a bit more tire clearance on my gravel bike, which starts to get tight at 700c x 45 and 650b x 48.

  6. dr sweets says

    I have four bikes currently and an old spare frame I might do something with at some point. My two mountain bikes; A Banshee Paradox V3/150mm fork and a mixed wheeled StumpJumper EVO 155mm/170mm came into my possession last year through recommendations and research as all* of my bikes have over the years. Additionally, I’ve a Swobo Accomplice single speed commuter acquired for peanuts as new “old stock” a few years back and a ’78 Laguna beach* cruiser that was given to me a s gift many years ago. If I was to start over tomorrow, I do not believe I would get anything vastly different. Maybe some lateral moves in mountain bikes eg. a Transition Patrol or maybe a Santa Cruz Bronson just for shits and giggles. I guess I’d buy another cyclocross/gravel/all road or whatever they are calling a curly bar bike you can get dirty. However, the road riding in metro ATL is seriously sketchy and I have a surfeit of mountain biking trails that I ride without any FOMO on any of my tight suit brethren’s shenanigans. I do have a semi-custom travel hard tail on the horizon that I have begun to stockpile bits for, but overall I’m good.

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