The everything bike

Just last week, I finally sold the fixed gear bike I’ve been holding onto as my extra bike. I’d initially bought it as a winter commuter, but it was just a wee bit too big for me, and I never loved it the way I love my Trek. I’d take it out occasionally, but mostly I used it as an extra bike, something to ride if my road bike had a big fixing job underway or if I had a friend in town.

(the speedy fixie, mine no longer)

I sold it to a co-worker for way less money than I’m sure I could have gotten for it, but I feel really good knowing how much he’s going to love it. I probably would have given it to him, honestly–I’m psyched for how much more use out of this bike he’s going to get than I did.

Selling this bike, though, has me thinking about the culture of bike ownership. James and I have an implicit rule that neither of us can have more than two bikes–not only because a garage full of more than 4 bikes for two people seems ridiculous, but also because of the consumption that multiple bikes entails. A normal household of two wouldn’t own four cars, y’know? Just because bikes are smaller and more environmentally friendly doesn’t make it feel okay to have a garage full of them gathering dust–overconsumption is still overconsumption, even if you’re consuming something that can make you feel environmentally smug.

I understand that different bikes serve different purposes, I do. I know that some people have nice mountain bikes that they use on singletrack, then sturdier commuters that they use to get around town, and fancy road bikes for fast rides on the weekends, maybe a cyclocross bike to race through mud. But I love the idea of, as much as possible, an “everything” bike. For the last almost-7 years, my road bike has served me well for getting to work, for errands around town, for long weekend rides, for touring… basically everything I want except maybe off-road adventures. I know this bike intimately, and it’s been everywhere with me.


(my everything bike and great bikey love, demonstrating its weekend ride capacity at the Sauvie Island boat launch)

Even though it’s not A Touring Bike, it’s served me well for touring; even though it’s not A Commuter Bike it’s served me well for commuting; there are things about it that annoy me–most notably the lack of fender clearance and its inability to carry racks–but on the whole it’s amazing for basically anything I want. No extra bike required.

Of course, I sold the fixie in part because I want to build myself a super rocking steel bike that can become my other everything bike, this time with the capacity for slightly beefier tires, brakes, and a back rack, something I can take off-road without worrying about blowing out my tires. And it is nice to have a bike to give to visitors. So it’s not like I’m immune to wanting more bikes than I need, strictly speaking. But I want to keep that two-bike cap in mind just to keep my bike consumption in line with my general-life thoughts about consumption: try to fit one thing to many purposes, and keep the clutter down. Four bikes in our garage is enough:)


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