My N currently stands at 4, and I desperately want that +1. Mevrouw T has given me the good news that we have enough money to buy another bike, but the bad news is that I have to get rid of an old one to make room for it in our storage space.
So I’m considering my options. All advice (and good deals on great bikes!) gladly accepted.Nobody can live in Holland without a bike – several bikes in fact. I need a bike for the shopping, a bike for country touring, a bike for weekend riding with fit friends who like to go fast, another bike for going fast but doing the shopping on the way home…
Everybody needs a ‘stadfiets’ (city bike) to start with. It’s the bike to ride around town, chain up on the street and leave in the rain.
It needs to be an ‘anti-theft’ bike, meaning it should look unglamorous and be fitted with a security chain that could anchor a battleship.
The Netherlands is reputed to suffer 800,000 bicycle thefts a year, and we’ve joined the victims of crimes list on occasions. When someone stole my front wheel I was sorely tempted to help myself to a replacement from an apparently abandoned bike down the street. I resisted.
Our city bikes are Gazelles, the classic Dutch-made no-frills workhorses. We bought second-hand ones, so we don’t have to worry about the battering they get on the cobblestones and the scratches that inevitably appear when they’ve spent hours jammed into a crowded bike stall. Brakes are optional extras and the gears slip, but despite the squeaks and rattles, a good stadfiets keeps on going.
For touring, it’s nice to have something more comfortable. Mevrouw T has a smart Gazelle Medeo, and I bought my Giant Leader for 250 euros. It’s a good, solid travelling bike, with 27 gears. I love the ‘flinderstuur’ (butterfly handlebars). However, the disc brakes are a pain to adjust, and despite trying a number of different saddles, I’ve never managed to finish a long day’s ride without a sore rear end. Perhaps I need a seatpost with some suspension in it. Or a harder backside.
So what sort of bike don’t I have? I’m not interested in racing, so there’s no need for me to spend large amounts of money on carbon fibre. But I would like to go a little faster when there’s clear road ahead.
Maybe a hybrid would do me. I have a Kona Dr Dew in Sydney, which I’ve modified by adding racing wheels and slick tyres. That gets around all right, but it’s not the lightest and it can’t keep up when the big boys get going. Maybe it’s me who should lose a few kilos rather than my bike.
Or am I ready for an entry level road bike? A Trek 1.5 perhaps? Or a Kona Honky Inc (could I ride something with a name like that?) Or should I stick with the Dutch and get a fast Gazelle? Should that be a Gazelle Squadra or a Gazelle Tirreno? New or used? Compact or triple? Shimano 105 or Ultegra? How does anyone decide? The do-nothing option is looking good.