TCI Friday

My bike was red. I was eight-years-old, and that constitutes most of what I knew about it. I learned years later that it was made by Peugot. Apparently, they made BMX bikes once. Maybe they still do? Anyway, a thing I noticed was that some kids were putting pads on their bikes, on the stems and handlebars and top tubes. I could guess that this was for protection, but it also looked cool as hell. So I began the process of saving up allowance to buy pads for my bike one at a time.

Once I’d set my mind to this, the bike, which I loved like plants love the sun, looked naked without the pads. It gnawed at me. These, I think, were the seeds of the bike mania that would manifest itself in so many odd ways throughout my life.

I could lust for a particular bike, and then eventually get it, but then not be able to resist f%$ing with it. My first few city bikes had to be rattle-canned some jarring color to prevent theft. I’d cut the bars down, swap the tires, always optimizing.

The Bontrager Crow Bar – An Ancient Classic

Once I got into “performance bikes,” the slope got even more slippery. A Crow Bar for my first proper mountain bike, an array of pedals, grips in a contrasting color, because looks matter. Bar ends.

And now what? I’ve weened myself down to 4 bikes I ride regularly. When I built each one, I aimed for the sky, carbon this, titanium that. But the itch persists. Maybe a bar with a little more back sweep would be more comfortable, a different color bar tape to freshen up the look of the road bike. Do I really wanna splurge on a titanium crank? I do. I really do.

This week’s TCI Friday asks, are you a frequent upgrader or do you ride it stock? The humbling truth is that stock is really good. Sure product managers cut corners on little bits here and there to hit target price points, but even a corner that’s been cut is usually a pretty good corner. Really, if you just do basic maintenance on one of today’s stock bikes, you have a great bike that’ll last. But for some of us, the mania persists.

Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    Actually I just did the opposite. My commuter needed a new Ultegra drive train. I got the stock cassette and chain but ironically the big chainring is out of stock; my commute is pretty flat so the small ring is unused. But for 50 bucks more I got a complete 105 crankset, so technically I downgraded to a newer set.

    I generally ride equipment to exhaustion then replace in kind. Occasionally I add some color but usually when the component is worn out; tape, saddle, etc. I’m cheap and boring I guess.

  2. scottg says

    I had place holder wheels on my main ride for 6 years, before I got around
    to building a set wheels for that bike.

    My method is too put off buying a part until is safely obsolete.
    I upgraded by Campy bike to 10s 2 years ago, surf the trailing edge of technology.

  3. dr sweets says

    I’ve built up the last twenty plus years of bikes from the frame up. I picked out parts based on what I could find deals on, what I liked esthetically and what I could mostly afford. In this effort I’ve become an educated shopper and despite still making mistakes on components with either durability (I’ve broken and/or worn out any and everything) or functionality I’ve succeeded in getting exactly what I want at better costs than going with stock. Not to mention, I end up with something few if anyone else has.

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More