Increase your annual mileage: lap 4

When you deal with the nitty-gritty of any subject, you will inevitably tread on a few toes. But it can be done with good humour. The following observations may seem to carry a few digs at one or two cycling friends…..but honestly guys, no malice intended! It’s all good banter for the coffee stops.

How many bikes are enough?



Ah, good question. The ever popular answer to this little conundrum is N+1, where N= the number bikes you already have, plus the next one. Now, I love the humour behind this but………some cycling guys (and it’s always the men) take this literally. I mean, not only are they compulsive bike-buyers, but they can’t bear to get rid of the unused steeds in their stables.

I once visited a friend who took me to see his collection of bikes. I expected to go out into the garage, but no, he took me upstairs, opened a bedroom door and there, to my astonishment, was a collection of some one dozen bikes, filling the available space. The curious thing was that, whenever I saw him on a bike, it was invariably on his much-loved old fixed wheel…..his favourite and the one he habitually rode. The rest seemed to be just part of a collection……including an expensive titanium model.

So (you might ask) what has this got to do with increasing your annual mileage? Well, I read a number of cycling blogs, authored by fellow roadies around the world, and many of them take great pride in their collections. They are smitten with some kind of deep affection for their varied machines, and each machine will have a specific use. For them, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’….in other words, one bike (or even two) will never be enough.

The minutiae of different riding conditions, of different weather patterns, if it’s hot or cold, if it’s wet or dry, if it’s icy or snowy…..every circumstance should have its nominated bike, which is equipped specifically for a clearly-defined job. Now, of course, I don’t buy into any of that. Because the question that really should be asked is: how many bikes are too many? And the answer is: N = >.

N is the number of bikes you own and > represents the exponential increase in time spent maintaining, fixing, cleaning and preening, and re-equipping

N+!? Image:


those bikes. Meaning that the greater number of hours you spend on looking after your growing collection, the fewer hours you have to actually ride them. And yes, I know of guys who spend hours in their workshops tinkering with bikes, and they say they haven’t had much time for riding because they’ve been sorting out their bikes for the coming season, upgrading their TT bike, swapping saddles and handlebars between bikes…….and the list goes on.

If you are really serious about increasing your annual mileage, you may have to consider thinning out the stable or, at least, putting some of your steeds into temporary/permanent retirement. If you are time-starved, you will simply have to ‘keep the main thing, the main thing’…..that is, focus the few hours you have on what you really want to achieve……. riding the bike.





About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on November 7, 2014, in Increase your annual mileage and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I’ve got three main bikes, two road bikes and a mountain bike. They each have their place of course. I do see your point though and thankfully, I have enough. Nice post.

    • ……three bikes? I’d say you can be counted amongst the sane and reasonable…… 🙂

      • I think so but it’s an honest program my friend… Except when cost is factored in. I get into trouble with cost, considering my Venge was ten times what sane people think a bike should cost. Ah well. The love between a man and his machine.

  2. My count is 3, but I really can’t take my road bike off-road (though I’ve done minor excursions in the past), and when it’s out of action or at the bike doctor I use an old beat-up just to get out.

  3. Bit I really NEEEEEED that new winter bike…….. Hehe! 😉

    • ….oh dear, the Oxford Concise English Dictionary doesn’t seem to cover that interpretation of “NEEEEEEED”!

      • Of course not, you’re looking in the CONCISE version… :p

        You have to look it up in the EXPANSIVE dictionary then you will see it means “the overpowering desire, fuelled by clever marketing propaganda, that your current ride is not good enough, leaving you with the conviction that you must purchase yet another two wheeled beauty!”

  4. I think one has to hang around an international women’s cycling forum, as I have for years. I’m like them and others here: I have 4 bikes across 2 Canadian cities. 5th bike (cycled for 14 yrs.) I gave away to a sister. so I always have a bike to cycle when I visit…. 😀

    Oh have been car-free for last 30 yrs. So there is a very practical reason for such multiplicity.

    • ……ah, someone who is car-less and lives between two or more locations is (absolutely) entitled to have as many bikes as they want/need…..but then, I suppose, everyone is……..? My own idiosyncratic suggestions about bike ownership (for what they are worth) are really directed at people who are intent in spending more time riding and/or increasing their annual mileage. I’m merely suggesting a ‘trade-off’of time and energy……

  5. Frank, sorry to have not stopped by for a while. This post is excellent. I was once strictly a mountain biker, but then the “big crash at Nakusp” took place, and it was never the same for me…so eventually I got a road bike, and my mountain biking became less and less frequent. The next step was to actually sell my mountain bike, which turned out to be a very liberating feeling…it was not unlike other “things” in our lives that we “must have”, but which only cause unnecessary angst thru non-usage induced guilt.

    I am now in the process of selling my Kona Sutra touring bike. It’s great, and it’s a tank, and I love it, but I don’t do enough touring to justify it. It just takes up space. That leaves me with my Cannondale roadie. I find that the more I “specialize” on one bike, the more fun I have on it. I have two sets of wheels: one set for racing tires and one for treaded tires…creates the illusion of having two bikes. I also picked up a seat-post mounted cargo tote, which allows me to do “ultralite touring”.

    • …..I, too, went through a similar ‘purge’ some 3-4 years ago. I had 4 bikes, all of different sizes and dimensions (eg. none had the same wheel size, for instance), so none of my growing collection of spares were interchangeable…..there was something ‘exponential’ going on, and it wasn’t in my favour. I now have 2 main bikes: one for long distance trekking and the other for the bulk of my home-based mileage. And it works just fine (unsurprisingly).

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