No, this article is not some crafty ploy by your inner-child to justify adding an extra toy to the cart, nor does it aim to convince you that your current bike is simply not good enough. On the contrary, the purpose is to explain the multiple reasons why everyone and there mother needs another bike, maybe two, or maybe ten. The more the better and here’s why:
Over more than a century that bikes have existed, people have tried to narrow, expand, sharpen, and dull them and/or their supposed categories to accommodate an entirely new or firmly cemented style of riding. Some pioneers have succeeded while others have failed because of their hubris and folly. With all the efforts, the present-day result is a vast collection of bikes, components, and gear for a diverse pool of new, seasoned, and returning riders to buy and try.
We can think of the great expansion of bike design as a sort of Darwinism and observe bikes like the finches of the Galapagos, which differed in slight ways. Unlike Darwinism’s relatively long natural course, however, change in the cycling and bikes comes quick and oftentimes even a minor modification that a professional bike designer or garage tinkerer makes can have lasting effects on the way certain bikes perform and look today and even give us an indication of how they might be like in a year’s time after evolution.
In our effort to highlight practical differences in modern day bikes and how it’s impossible for a jack-of-all-trades bike to exist, we can start out macro and narrow our view to two bikes that might look identical but perform quite differently when riding.
Firstly, most people—even non-cyclists—can identify the major bike categories: road, mountain, BMX, hybrid, and cruiser. At this macro level, these bikes look, feel, and perform very different with regards to speed, weight, rider position, and off-road capability. A logical conclusion: a do-it-all renaissance man would only need five different bikes to do every type of cycling and be content. If the taxonomic rank ended there, however, then I wouldn’t have eleven bikes in my garage (no, I’m not kidding and I’m fairly confident I don’t have a spending problem… hey I’ve got good credit). In reality, the classification of bikes further divides and goes much deeper.
You may have seen and heard lots of new-fangled terms like “all-road,” “x-road,” “down-country,” “short-travel,” “long-travel,” “comfort,” and even “hardcore” peppered into bike descriptions, and although they sound like just another marketing device, they actually represent clear distinctions within the traditional bike categories and they have clear benefits. Take for example two similar bikes in my fleet. They’re both hardtail 29ers, but the designers of one had all-out speed and efficiency when they drew it up and put it in the XC folder, while the designers of the other wiped the powder from their noses and decided that they wanted a hardtail that could plow through a rock garden with a straight face.
Could I have split the difference between the two bikes and simply gone with a modest hardtail to capture the beneficial features of both bikes? Yes but I wouldn’t. Almost every benefit that bike designers are trying to draw out exist on a dichotomy and scale; the closer a bike gets to one benefit it gets further away from another.
Although there are over a dozen dichotomies in bike design, let’s take descending vs. climbing ability in mountain bikes since it will always be relevant because of the nature of gravity and potential energy and other physics jargon. Simply put, the better a bike is at descending a trail the worse it will climb, and the inverse is true as well because of geometry and componentry differences. It’s why a downhill bike is an absolute dog pedaling up a hill and why an XC rig is an absolute safety liability descending anything steep; however, you put those two bikes in the environment that bike designers adapted them to, and they’ll thrive.
Since it’s impossible for a practical do-it-all bike to exist, a rider’s only realistic option to enter into multiple types of cycling, adapt, and thrive is to buy another bike, and another, and another…
Thanks for reading!
Please like, follow, and leave a comment about what type of bike your next one will be (we just might have it in stock at the Temecula store).