Those “one bike” guys

I saw this thread over at paceline and had a laugh.


It’s funny but it made me think of how someone with a dozen of the same bike will never proselytize how great it is – whereas the guy with one bike will always let you know. I’ve been on more than one group ride where someone’s mentioned unprompted “oh this is my only bike” and I always wonder what response they expect?

Condescending articles about only having a single bike are a staple bike blog rotational and they’re never very good. If the byline doesn’t say “Jobst Brandt” no one cares that you only have one bike.

Having one bike kinda sucks anyway. It usually means someone is only interested in one form of cycling.  Instead it’s wrapped up in this rebellious take on modern conspicuous consumption while simultaneously trying to crib some status from the minimalist movement. If they’re not in it for the paycheck, or Japanese, most of those minimalism guys are fighting some form of mild mental illness. It’s not 600 hours riding a bike per year or anything but it’s there for sure.

Anyway, some dude was telling me about his one bike after a group ride while changing to get into his Volvo and drive back home. I had to ride my bike back to my apartment so I left without hearing what his point was but it seemed like it was going to be kind of thin at the time.

This whole post is just an exercise in nostalgia wrapped in post-modern angst. I loved only having one bike, because I didn’t know any better. I spent around $700 and several dozen hours tracking down used parts, stripping paint, waiting for cheap spray paint to dry, fixing stupid installation errors and all sorts of other beginner mistakes to end up with a converted fixed gear hung with bottom of the barrel parts. Which I then road the fuck out of until I cracked the bottom bracket jumping over a curb at 22 miles an hour during an alleycat race in Jacksonville. I didn’t even notice at the time and went on to finish the race pretty respectably and had an absolute blast.

I didn’t have a job or any other money so this was my bike and my only bike for a long time. It was an awesome bike. How did it handle? I don’t know like a bike I guess. Did it plane? I didn’t know what that was. How much trail did it have? I don’t know the catalog scan I found didn’t say and I didn’t know anything about trail anyway. How much did it weigh? I don’t know but it was lighter than the touring bike I rode previously.

All I knew was that I could get on it everyday and just pedal and pedal. Everything worked and it was fun to ride and all I needed to do was oil the chain every now and again. It didn’t have fenders so when it rained I’d hang out with my mom or my girlfriend or my siblings. It was kinda a drag to do a lot of climbing so I’d route flat routes around Gwinnett county into the country where I could ride for hours without seeing a car.

One time I rode a century from my house in Lawrenceville to the outskirts of Athens. That was a lot of fun. Oh and another time I won this alleycat race in Atlanta. 2012 peachtree bash, I just remember absolute speed. Everything a blur with tunnel vision blasting through the urban core of Atlanta to Buckhead and back. I won something like $120? It was amazing and really ignited a fire for competition that’s still going.

I think I sort of had a point when I started but now I just miss the freedom that only having one bike brings. It was so easy, one bike I only ride on the road when it’s dry. That’s it, no inventory of parts for multiple race machines, no obsessing over tire rolling resistance or pressure or tread, no geometry charts, no constant Instagram newness making me unsatisfied with the things I already own, just riding around on my fixed gear having fun.



Shimano RD-M592 Rear Derailleur – Just Doesn’t Work

It’s rare for a modern bike part to be so poorly engineered that it doesn’t work at all. This derailleur came on my mountain bike. It worked great at first but after a hundred hours or so it started failing to shift. Like actually not shifting up or down. The cable would pull and move but the derailleur would not move enough to switch gears on one or even two clicks.

Drove me CRAZY for months with this. I changed cables, hangers, housing – messed with the shifters. It was awful. This fucked up more than one event for me and made me super frustrated.  I read through this thread and after seeing other people’s experiences, tossed mine right in the trash (not really – I can’t throw anything away so it’s in the “worn-out parts” bin BUT STILL)

So fuck this derailleur. I replaced it with a Sora RD-3500 which handles the same exact cassette and chainring combos just fine.



Bike food v. real food 


Now that I’m more budget conscious I’ve been thinking about food. It’s always just kind of assumed that bike food is a luxury item and the costs are significantly above what one would pay for “real food.”

This came up recently in a slowtwitch thread:

I really don’t think triathlon is expensive if you choose to be cheap. I’ve been on 6 hour riders eating my peanut butter sandwiches and water and person beside me is eating $20 worth of gels (10-12 gels) and pre bottled Gatorade ($2 per bottle). That ride cost me around $1.

Thread here, it’s not a great read since triathletes are pretty disconnected from reality and most of the posters on slowtwitch are pretty rich so it’s more like 2-steps than 1-step.

The actual comment is pretty stupid, $1 worth of food for a 6 hour ride? Probably not. The sentiment remains; gels, “pre-bottled” gatorade – specialty bike food is seen as expensive. It’s smart and frugal to make your own food and bring it with.

But, is it frugal? is it smart? And if so, how smart? How frugal?

I made a table with the cost per serving and per calorie for all the sports candy I just purchased compared to real food items that I have seen suggested for consumption during rides.


So the poster above rode for 6 hours eating PB&J? Using the cheapest available items from Walmart and not factoring in any cost associated with travel, prep time and so forth. He must have only eaten 1 sandwich of 380 calories. Seems a little low for a 6 hour ride?

My point is that bike food, like most food, will trend towards the lowest market price. And really for what it is I think it’s a great deal. I can buy small packets of food that will fuel me at a high level of physical exertion for several hours. They remain edible for weeks, are unaffected by temperature and are packaged in containers that can be jostled/dropped/squeezed without failure. I can order these delivered to my house for around $0.50 per 100 calories or a half-cent a calorie. This seems like a pretty good deal.

I’m not coming to this blind. I’ve done the DIY powerbars, the rice cakes in their stupid wax paper/foil wrapper, baked potatoes in plastic bags with salt and PB&J getting smushed in my pocket. “Real food” sucks for cycling – it takes time to go buy, time to prepare, is heavy and does not last more than one ride. I can carry a powerbar in my pocket on a six hour ride in 95 degree weather, sweat all over the wrapper and if I don’t eat it, it’s still good tomorrow or next month.

So no, I do not think real food is a smart choice for cycling. It’s also not especially frugal as travel, prep and wastage add up.

You want to save money? Supplement your regular bike food with gatorade/powerade powder. It’s extremely cheap and essentially the same nutrition as eating a gel. I like to put gatorade as my first edible so I always eat it first and do not waste it as it does not really keep after a day or so. After that I’ll go to the more expensive bars or gels or something. This is $0.17 per 100 calories and is probably the best price for a convenient bike food. You can even carry the powder and mix later during your ride if you don’t want to commit to mixing right away if you’re worried it will go unused.

Why didn’t you buy that? Low Trail Edition

Why Didn’t You Buy That? Soma Grand Randonneur Edition

After being blown away by the story of the first Paris-Brest-Paris in issue no. 50 I hit the Bicycle Quarterly HARD.

(I wholeheartedly recommend you check out the issue as well as the accompanying blog post here:

I ordered the entire back catalog and blew through all the issues in a matter of weeks. My thoughts were laser focused on low-trail, handlebar bags, fat tires and dynamo lights. Dreams of conquering far away mountains and gliding over gravel peaks sent me off to sleep every night.

The main production low-trail frame, the Soma Grand Randonneur was something I researched heavily. I looked at dozens of builds, read every review I could find and really tried to get into the bike. I wanted to try low-trail so bad, carrying stuff in a handlebar bag with a cool rack on my speedy fendered fat-tired bike would be awesome.

Once I actually confronted the build I was planning it all fell apart.

First, the threaded fork.


I spent my first few years as an adult riding threaded forks and quill stems exclusively. They’re ok and work fine but obviously lacking in convenience of handlebar swapping, stiffness, length and height options and so forth. Threadless systems are awesome and thread systems suck. This is re-enactment nonsense to see a modern bike take such a huge step back. This is the main thing that kept me away. I wasn’t going to spend several hundred dollars on a frame to deal with quill stems.

Next was the brakes, cantilever brakes are not something I enjoy. There were dozens of posts about the Grand Randonneur and squealing, chittering, juddering brakes.

But there was always a little wiggle keeping me from diving in all the way. I was on board with everything but the brakes. After trying out discs on my mountain bikes and subsequently on my road bikes I had vowed never to go back to rim brakes. This is a problem as there are no low-trail production disc frames. To get into low trail and discs you need to navigate the vagaries of custom builders and their ever lengthening queues. I hedged and went ahead and added myself to the Elephant National Forest Explorer wait list. $1350 for a very excellent frameset, but the timeline was very long. Although I went another direction if I had waited in line it would have taken a little over a year before I got my frame in hand.


These two things combined just killed the bike for me. I decided to shelve the low trail idea and see if it resurfaced later on with more modern design choices. Nothing yet so my money is still in the bank. Maybe I’ll get back on the Elephant list?

Anyway, goddammit Soma why do you always have to put one or two dumb design choices in every bike you make?


Cycling is expensive?

I was looking through my email for some of the prices and stuff and it reminded me that my first pair of cycling shoes were a birthday gift from my mother. A 28th birthday gift, to be exact. I find this deeply embarrassing, perhaps some unexplored psyche issues there? Have to come back to this later.

Anyway I recently wore through my awesome DHB Pro ASV shorts and was thinking about how much they cost per use.

I got the shorts on May 4th, 2015 along with a matching jersey. Quite a nice kit, lightweight with those borderline useless features that are fun to gush about to your cat but don’t really do much overall.

So the shorts are worn out, which always happens before the jersey is done. Vincent Antonelli explained this pretty clearly in My Blue Heaven:


“What happens in the pants are going to have to go to the dry cleaners more often than the jacket and pretty soon you end up with a suit that doesn’t match…”

In this case, the pants do all the stretching, rubbing and moving and the jersey just sits there. Soon enough the pants are ready for the trash but the jersey has another year or two before it gets too thin. Since I only bought one pair of shorts the jersey is binned as well, can’t be caught dead in mismatched kit.

I HAVE A FULL TIME JOB and discretionary income!

So the kit cost to my house was $66.49 for shorts and 56.99 for the jersey, $123.48 total. I wore this kit about once a week for a little less than a year and a half. Figure 70 weeks total. Got a lot of use out of it, did some races, did some very long rides and really liked the look and fit.

Total cost per ride is $1.76

Damn that seems like a lot. Figure my average ride is about 2 hours and that includes 1-2 powerbars or other sports candy and that adds another $1.50

$3.26 a ride now

Tires last 6400 miles for a pair, which is really an exaggeration as a prudent person would replace much earlier. Lets knock it back 10%. Tires last 5800 miles. Cost for 2 x Grand Bois Hetres is $131.65 to my house (!) so average ride is 30 miles, I would get 193 rides out of them. $0.68 per ride. Dang that looks pretty good now.

$3.95 now

My helmet was $30 almost five years ago so it’s essentially $0 but lets say $0.05 a ride.

$4.00 now is nice and round.


As I mentioned earlier my shoes (SHAME AT MY MOM BUYING ME RECREATIONAL ITEMS AT AGE 28) were a gift but they actually cost $67.99 and $9.99 shipping and (fuck) tax $4.68 so total would be $82.66

I’ve worn them at least 700 times. For a while I tried to rock some Giro shoes but they were so small and cold that it didn’t last. Looked good when I was racing at the track though.

Anyway, my shoes per ride cost would be $0.12 per ride. NICE!

So $4.12 per ride.

Figure water, power for other stuff, phone for strava are all free because they’re not bike items. You know when I started this I thought it was really expensive per ride but looking at it now $4.12 for two hours of entertainment is a really good deal. This will obviously help assuage my $3000+ bike expenditure for this year. Also memories of a $6000 year in 2013. Jesus Christ now I wish I hadn’t written this stupid thing. How embarrassing (again!)

Oh wait, I forgot THE FUCKING BIKE!

So Diamondback is owned by Accell Group and Accell Group has a very liberal corporate discount policy. So for now and the foreseeable future I can get some very handsome deals on Diamondback bikes. Which is great for me cause I’m not a snobby dipshit.

So my bike cost $775 WITH FREE SHIPPING! For an aluminum 21 pound 105 (well not the cranks) gravel themed bike. Now, considering my longest lived bike has lasted for 400 rides before the frame broke I am going to be generous and assume the same for this bike. So per ride cost would be $1.94

Ok now we’re at $6.06, still a really good deal!


I guess next I’m going to look at VeloViewer and Mapmyride to add up all my rides, then at my expenditure spreadsheets to total all my bike related expenses and then my eyes will pop out of my head as it’s exploding under the crushing forces of overwhelming feelings of wasted time and money on a hobby that provides little lasting skills or relationships.



An overview of Internet bicycle forums

Bikeforums: Most posters don’t know anything and just parrot what someone else thought up and wrote. Most riders are “training” but don’t compete, or complete I guess, in any events.

MTBR forums: SoCal is full of batshit horse people. Complain about how much things cost and how nothing is compatible anymore.

Paceline: Self hating dentists who don’t ride anymore. All have 50 bikes and love to nut suck brands I’ve never heard of. Serotta? Seven? I dunno

Pinkbike: This is where the hundreds of different MTB standards really fuck things up. I never read this forum because I never see a thread that applies to me since it’s always some crazy specific conversation.

RoadBikeReview: Threads here will always come up in google when I’m trying to answer some obscure question. I’ll open the thread, read the few replies and then go get my question answered somewhere else. I guess I’m dumb.

Slowtwitch: You know triathletes.

Tarckbike: “ is down”

VelocipedeSalon: Mine the old Fred Blasdel posts, don’t read anything else. Maybe the TRP thread but otherwise this forum is for framemaker fellatio only. Gross.