How many bikes is too many?

It’s spring finally, the season when a young (or not so young) woman’s heart turns to bicycles. That’s the way that saying goes isn’t it?

Cyclists all the know the formula for calculating how many bikes you need to own. It’s n + 1, of course, where n=the number of bikes you currently possess.

But my household has a different rule and unfortunately we’re maxed out on bicycles at the moment. We’ve set a household limit of fifteen (3 per person)  and I already own more than my fair share: road,  cyclocross, fixed gear road bike, mountain and track….

Since my partner and I are both cyclists we needed a limit because otherwise each time one of us would need a new bike, so too did the other, and so the bikes went forth and multiplied.

People with non cyclists as partners have the terrible task of having to argue for each new bike. For some excellent advice on argumentative technique see the Fat Cyclist’s column on how to justify your next bike.

I’ve also overflowed our outside bike cage (that’s where the “place de cyclistes” sign can be found, thanks Dave and Gillian!) and I keep my best bike in my office. I joke that the romance is over because it used to live in my bedroom but I’ve moved it to less intimate quarters.

And really, I don’t need a new bike. But my eye is taken with the girly cruiser bikes in pastel shades with baskets and bells that come out on warm days. They look suitable for wearing with sun dresses and riding to coffee shops and the market on sunny spring days. I know I’m in trouble when I start browsing Copenhagen Cycle Chic, a fashion blog featuring bikes.

Truth is though, I like speed. I know from past experience of renting cruiser bikes that I’ve tried hard to make them go fast. And I hate being passed. So for now I’ll just look and admire.

I do like cargo bikes though…

What kind of bike are you lusting after this spring? And how many bikes do you think is too many?

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What is a cruiser style bike? Here’s some examples:
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About Sam B

Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist!

21 thoughts on “How many bikes is too many?

  1. […] How many bikes is too many? (fitisafeministissue.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. Jean says:

    I have 4 bikes, in 2 cities with a 5th bike that I rode for over 10 years and gave away to a sister in Toronto. I still borrow that 5th bike whenever I visit Toronto.

    Someone at work asked me 2 days ago, how many bikes I had. I paused because of the manner in which she asked me the question: I was recently profiled on the corporate intranet to several thousand other employees for my cycling and 3-decade long car-free lifestyle (very weird in Calgary). I knew she wasn’t a cyclist and she seemed to asked this question as some sort of challenge to confirm what was maybe in her mind: “Another weird cyclist….”

    I told her. As it turns out, her next door neighbour owns 3 bikes for herself with latest an electric bike that’s being used for last 2 years.

    I have 2 hybrids, a Dahon folding bike and 1 beater mountain bike. Yea, sure I lust after a bike every season.

    I think I’ll have to settle for a Zefal floor pump, a set of bar grips and a set of new bike panniers. 🙂

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  3. Alyssa says:

    Funny – I only have 1 bike that I’ve had for…I don’t even know how long! Probably 15-20 years. And I feel guilty for wanting a new bike because this one works “just fine”. Granted, I’m not a huge rider, but I’d like to start riding more, and maybe a new bike would be just the thing to get me out there more.

    I do LOVE the cruiser style bikes, but feel that’s a good second bike if you already have a good one for speed.

    What would you suggest to buy as a first bike?

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    • Sam B says:

      If I could only have one bike for speed, distance, and commuting it would probably be my cyclo cross bike….

      Bikes are a lot cheaper than cars and they are inexpensive to operate. I don’t think of them as luxury items.

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  4. Meredith says:

    I have a bubblegum-pink cruiser that I got several years ago, just when the trend for them was picking up. At the time, most people I knew rode mountain bikes, and very few rode them for city commuting. I chose it because it’s got huge fenders to keep the mud off, because it’s easy to ride in a skirt, and because it was one of the only bicycles I’d seen on which one sits in a comfortable, upright position. I’ve since added a bell and large, pink panniers, which are also handy. It’s seen a lot of wear, and was great for making biking less intimidating to my overly-cautious niece, but it doesn’t meet my needs at all anymore – there are so many better city bikes available now, I never wear skirts, even pedalling top-speed, it’s relatively slow, the coaster-brakes can’t handle stopping on hills, and I don’t particularly like pink…

    So this season, I’m lusting after anything that might meet my needs a little better. I’d still like a robust bike that can carry a decent amount of cargo, but I’d like something zippy that I can take on much longer trips. Something appropriate for running errands, but that I could also take on longer, more challenging rides. I haven’t figured out what that is yet… suggestions?

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    • Sam B says:

      I love my cyclocross bike for about town riding and for longer trips. I outfitted it with panniers and fenders but it’s still fast and comfortable for longer rides. I’ve taken it out for up to 60 km but for anything longer I want my good road bike. It’s just an entry level cyclocross bike but I like it for about town and field…

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  5. Bike to Work says:

    I live with two other people and own three bikes myself. Both roommates have more, so I think I’m justified in getting at least one more bike at some point. n+1 indeed.

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  6. Bike to Work says:

    I also think about getting a cruiser at some point. With a chain guard and skirt guard. You know, for the two times a year when I want to bike to a cocktail party.

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  7. Kim G. says:

    I have seven bikes… but I work in cycling (bike mechanic at MEC) so people seem to take that more or less in stride. Also, 3 of them are restoration projects. (The others are flat bar road bike – the main commuter/grocery getter/ etc as I am car free – summer pathway cruiser/commuter, fast road bike, and long-distance touring bike).

    Jean, I am in Calgary too – maybe we’ve met? :~D

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  8. […] 3. Lots of sports within cycling: There are lots of different tribes within cycling and you can move from one to the other. Read the Bike Snob’s Guide to Cycling’s Tribes. I’ve competed in criterium races and road races and time trials. I’ve ridden on the track too and raced a bit there. I haven’t done much with the mountain bike I own but I’d like to ride in a cyclocross race sometime in the future. Moving from one sub speciality to another is also a great excuse to buy another bike. And cyclists always want more bikes. I’d love a funky pastel cruiser, a cargo bike, and a time trial or tri bike. See How many bikes is too many? […]

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  9. David Pearson says:

    The correct number of bikes is N+1
    Too many bikes? N+2.

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  10. Catherine says:

    How many bikes do I have? It’s a complex question. In current rotation are:
    1) road bike
    2) cross bike
    3) full-suspension MTB
    4) commuter bike (25 year old trek 850 antelope– love it)

    I also own
    5) single-speed fully rigid MTB (Klein attitude– anyone want to buy it? I give you good deal)
    6) old redline cross bike, living in SC at my aunt’s house, used when visiting

    I recently sold
    7) a Surly crosscheck that I had bought cheap from a friend, but was a bit too small for me.

    What do I want? A folding bike for traveling to conferences, for toodling around town and exploring in between sessions or day before/day after. I have toyed with the idea of putting S&S couplers on a cross bike, but have to face up to the fact that I’m not up to that much work breaking it down and putting it back together. Any recommendations? Of course a Brompton would be a dream, but beyond my budget. Do people like Dahons? Other brands?

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  11. […] loved the idea. We talked about it lots. Of course, it could never be our only bike, we agreed. See How many bikes is too many? where you’ll learn that I’m not afraid at all of owning more bikes. The more the […]

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  12. […] started cycling about a year and a half ago. My first bike (see How Many Bikes is Too Many? ) was a mountain bike. I didn’t intend to use it for mountain biking exactly but a mountain […]

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  13. Brian Leverenz says:

    I own six bikes and completely believe that i need n bikes + 1, like the formula says. I own two road bikes, one is newer and very nice for group rides and road races, the other is a bit older and I use it to commute. I also own a time trial bike for triathlons and time trials, a cyclocross bike for gravel trails and cross racing, and a mountain bike. All these bikes need special shoes to fit in the pedals, so its good to have one bike that just has clips and straps and i can ride in my tennis shoes, thus the sixth bike neighborhood cruiser. All have seen the pavement in the last three months, though the use of each tends to be more seasonal. But i really need that new all carbon road bike!.

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  14. But my eye is taken with the girly cruiser bikes in pastel shades with … fbikesc.wordpress.com

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