TCI Friday

There are certain things, innocuous facts, that say a lot about your cycling life, like if you own more than three bikes, or if you spend one day a year patching tubes, or if you occasionally make a joke so technically arcane that only another cyclist would be able to decipher your punchline. By gathering a few of these dispositive factoids, I could tell a lot about you as a cyclist.

One great example is tire size. 20 years ago, I was rolling on 23mm, slick tires on the daily. That made me a roadie, even when I was commuting. At that stage I also owned a mountain bike and a cruiser and probably a fixie of some sort, but my go-to bike had 23s.

Today, I’m riding 40mm knobby most of the time. That makes me, primarily, a gravel guy. I still ride the road bike some, on 28s, and I have a couple of mountain bikes (29 x 2.25″ & 27.5 x 2.25″), but mostly I’m a 40. Even just looking at those mountain bike tires you can tell I’m more of a carver on the trail than a hucker.

If you look at number of bikes owned, 20 years ago I had somewhere between 8 and 10. I was more of a fetishist, more inclined to dream up reasons to buy “cool” bikes, whereas now I have 5 bikes. At some point I was able to invest in customs, and that meant I didn’t need to cast around for something better all the time. While I miss the excitement of my fetishist period, it’s really nice to know you have exactly the bike you need, although that inevitably turns the finger of blame toward the rider when s/he has a bad day in the saddle.

This TCI Friday asks, how does your go-to bike today differ from your go-to bike from 10 or 20 years ago, and what story does that tell about how your riding has changed? Or, has it not changed very much at all? If not, how are YOU different as a rider? Do you own more or fewer bikes than you did then?

Join the conversation
  1. Hautacam says

    I have the same bikes as I did 10 years ago and mostly the same bikes as I did 20 years ago (!). I ride less now, due to other life priorities — mostly kid- and parent- related. At this point my fitness and lack of mileage are what limit my capabilities. Plus, the bikes are like old friends and I’m glad to hang out with them when I do get to ride. Nostalgia? Maybe. But they bring me joy.

  2. alanm9 says

    Was and always a roadie; no interest in mtb and no access to gravel. I remember when 25s were wide tires only for touring; I even rode 19s for a while. I got the bug to buy and rehab used bikes and had a dozen or so.
    Nowadays I’m on two road bikes with hydraulic disc’s and 28s, one mostly for commuting and one for weekend jaunts. The one constant has been my steel fixed gear from the early 90s, still my favorite.

  3. scottg says

    My goto bike was built in 2005, designed for Avocet Fasgrip 30mm slicks, which promptly
    disappeared from the market soon after taking delivery of the bike.
    Bought a nice used 2003 bike, it fits the challenging Challenge 36mm Strada Bianca Pro HTLR
    tires, winner of the longest name award, and hardest initial installation award.
    The ’86 Ellis Brigg is a lovely bike with cigarette paper clearance, 25s have to be deflated to be installed.
    You can feel extra foolish when you forget that, when changing a flat on the road.

  4. dr sweets says

    2001 I had an Ellsworth Joker (broke twice) and then a Santa Cruz Bullit (broke nearly every component on it). This was my do-it-all trail, freeride, urban, DH, destructo rig. It was really heavy had 2.5/2.35 tires and I could mostly not out ride it. Today I am on an Evil Wreckoning V3 MX 2.6 tires front and rear. Still my do-it-all bike. Much better geometry, suspension and lighter weight yet still more falchion than katana. While I no longer seek out loading docks to drop off of to flat or other such nonsense, the vibe remains.

  5. southcarolinamtb says

    fewer bikes than before, for sure. I used the excuse of being a NICA coach to hold onto several bikes – just in case some 6’2″ kid needed a whippet. Yeah, that happened twice and if you don’t count our son, then it never happened. 😉
    My riding has diversified a lot, so I do still have 3 main bikes, but none is really my go to. It depends on the mood and opportunity. If i could ride gravel all day, I don’t think I would be disappointed. But the best gravel is an hour away by car in every direction. There’s still good gravel nearby and good mild singletrack, but not enough to make it my mainstay. oh, and 40’s on an Ibis Hakka MX, since you are asking.
    I do still enjoy a road ride. Had a beautiful one last night that was perhaps my fastest pace for the year. Just in time for CX! The road riding is better than good from the house. Riding 25’s at the moment on a custom Sarto (It’s Italian for “tailor”, but roadie southern for “hell yeah!”.
    Which brings up the MTB… If I’m not wanting to take the time to drive somewhere, and if it’s reasonably dry we have better than fantastic trails very close by. I can spin a short warm up and be on dirt within 20min! better, more vertically challenging stuff is only a 30min spin. It’s almost not worth it to pack up and drive over. My MTB ride is an Epic FS with Conti 2.3’s. It’s an incredible combo for this terrain.
    I do miss my SSCX, and maybe moreso my SSMTB. Those were some tough life choices there.
    So, i’m down to 3 bikes for me and i feel good about it. At my high point, i had 8 bikes and 5 of those were MTB variants, 2 road bikes and 1 beach cruiser b/c, you know, we used to sometimes like to drag race down King Street at closing time (bar closing time). That’s no longer something I look forward to, but rather I look back on and laugh / smile / cringe, etc.
    It’s fair to say that as I changed my behavior, mostly as I matured, I changed my bike stock. I’m in a good place now and pretty happy with it all. I respect the vibe as someone mentions above, but I am finding new tunes all the time.

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