Opinion: The case for the one-bike stable

By Jeffrey Stern

Walking into my bike shed is overwhelming at the moment. There are frames hanging from the ceiling, wheels leaning against every wall, parts and pieces all over the workbench and the bike I want to ride is always cornered by the ones that I just snapped a cable on, or even worse, are unrideable themselves.

My organization is pitiful right now. Truthfully, it always is.

I’d much rather spend time riding than tinkering and I think that’s why I have so many bikes in the first place. The novelty of a new (or used, but new to me) bike is hard to turn down. There’s always something different about my last acquired two-wheeled machine and I have trouble saying no. As they say, I’m a bike aficionado, and a collector of bike stuff at heart. Getting rid of things is hard, especially when it comes to my modes of transport.

“One day I’ll need this!” I say to myself quite often, while tucking whatever “this” may be into a drawer or corner, unlikely to ever been seen or used. But time and time again, I justify keeping all this stuff.

But what if I got rid of it all and started fresh, with just one bike. Could I do it? How would I decided which bike to keep?

Realistically, my bike shed would have to burn down or somehow disappear into thin air for that to happen, but hypothetically, the thought is very attractive. So much so that the idea of the one-bike stable crosses my mind nearly every day.

I like roads and I like dirt. I like fat tires and skinny tires, slick and big old knobby treads. I truly enjoy the differences and various nuances of them all.

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So where would I start? The type of brakes employed seems to be the big question these days and with the proliferation of disc brakes, I’d have to go that route. A frame with ample clearance for my knobs, but plenty of stopping power for high-speed tarmac descents sounds like the perfect combination for my tastes. Ok, so we’re probably talking about multiple wheelsets and only one frame, but I’m fine with that compromise.

Drop bars or flat? This is a tough one. From a pure comfort factor, I think I’d go flat. Plus, it just looks funky and cool and that’s what I’m all about. I’d have way more style riding a slick-tired road-esque cruiser with a set of flat bars. I’d like to believe all the heads would turn, the questions would never stop and I’d grin from ear-to-ear each time.

And what about suspension? My good friend Greg who helped me build my first mountain bike back in the day as teenager said to me once when I asked how in the world he rode down technical mountain singletrack on a fully rigid bike, “I’ve got all the suspension I need right here!” as he pointed to his long, chiseled arms. To this day, it makes me smile every time I think about that moment. He’s right, we live in world with too much support and comfort. I’m not a downhiller by any means, and realistically doing a DH course on the one bike in my hypothetical stable is unrealistic and bit beyond the realm of my idea. Full rigid it is.

Material? Steel. Or if I have the dough, titanium. Hands down. The goal is to have this thing outlive me. I want my kids (if I ever have any) and their kids (getting ahead of myself) to be able to ride this thing. They might not think it’s cool and who knows, bikes might be a thing of the past by then, but hey, that’s not the point!

I don’t know the brand of bike I’d choose, but the thought of it is nice. One day, I might just pull the trigger and make it happen. I could probably come away with some extra dough, a whole lot more space (which my girlfriend would love) and one bike that I’d be forced to take extra special care of. Now isn’t that a novel idea?

If you had to pick just one bike to own, what would it be? Tell us in the comments!

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