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One Bike

A lot of cyclists I know have many bikes. Some have many, many bikes. This got me wondering – if I moved to a small apartment with minimal storage, and could only have one bike, what would it be? Then, I started trying to think about the taxonomy of bikes… what are the major types? This question might be a good debate topic. I might list the following “top level” types of bikes (I’m ignoring kids bikes since they should mostly just be mini versions of the other categories, I’m also ignoring recumbent bikes for the same reason). The top levels have many subcategories these days.

  1. Mountain bikes (full suspension, hard tail, single speed, fat bikes, trail bikes, enduro bikes, downhill bikes…)
  2. Road bikes (track bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, gravel bikes – may deserve their own top level, …)
  3. Transportation bikes (cruisers, townies, commuter bikes,…)
  4. BMX bikes

OK, so to pick just one to ride is pretty hard, and I think depends on where you live. If you live in an urban center, you might pick a transportation bike. If you live in the suburbs in the flatlands, a road bike is probably a good choice.

I’m lucky enough to live in the foothills of the mountains, with easy access to single track, one way downhill mountain bike trails, paved bike trails, roads with bike lanes, and more. This makes the choice a lot less obvious. But, after thinking about it a bit, I think I would keep my Giant Revolt 2 gravel bike if I had to cut down to one. On it, I can ride almost anything I can access with minimal penalty. Are there trails I would never try on it? YES. The Chutes, Section 16 (Palmer Red Rock Loop downhill), and others just wouldn’t be fun. But, I can ride it on a lot of single track, gravel roads, and paved routes, with the only possible required adjustment being different tire pressure.

What bike would you keep?

3 thoughts on “One Bike”

  1. Note, the ideal number of bikes to own is governed by the equation:
    n = n +1; n < d Where n is the number of bikes you currently own, and d is the number of bikes where your spouse gives up and files for divorce.

  2. My answer is easy, my mountain bike would be my one bike. But I thought about this over the weekend after you shared this and wanted to dig into the why behind my answer for myself. Thinking of the terrain one can ride as a spectrum, pavement on the left, red bull rampage on the right, the choice is really about what section of the spectrum I’d choose. Because it’s not about the bike, as one infamous asshole said… Different bikes cover broader segments of the spectrum, and your gravel bike probably covers the widest range, so it feels intellectually like that’s the smartest choice. And generally there’s a kind of hard stop on any bike’s capabilities on the right side of its range (S16 prob a no-no, like you said) but a softer fade toward the left (I can ride my mountain bike on the road just fine. I couldn’t join the Acacia park ride, but I’m not prohibited from the terrain, technically speaking.)
    Anyway, my comment is getting longer than your post here, but I’d choose my mtb for two reasons: (1) I never want any terrain to be “off limits” in my one bike scenario, and the mountain bike is capable of anything, within reason, and (2) Mountain biking brings me endless joy, I’d rather have a narrower band of terrain that my bike can do well, as long as that terrain is the stuff I really love.

    1. I like your spectrum analysis. Mountain biking is and may always be my one true love, and I really wrestled with my answer, but decided that at the end of the day I like all types of riding enough to give my gravel bike the win over my mountain bikes, if I had to choose. Hopefully it will never come to that.

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