Bicycle limbo

Six months later, the great bicycle hunt continues.  Yes, that’s right, I have yet to replace Baby Jake.  While I haven’t spent every waking moment thinking about this decision, it is always somewhere in the background.  So where do things stand?

If I could walk into my preferred bike shop right this very minute and buy a Salsa Vaya [3], I think I’d do it and be done with it.  Is it 100% my ideal, dream bike?  No, but I’d call it good enough.  Unfortunately, that’s not an option.

At this point, seven-plus months of riding non-road bikes is making me question whether or not I even want a road bike configuration.  I spent most of my time on Baby Jake with my hands either on the hoods or the tops (possible thanks to the secondary brake levers), and very little time in the drops.  So, in addition to the touring bikes I was originally considering, I’m somewhat considering some kind of a hybrid instead.

I mentioned to Matthew the other day that I just wanted a non-longtail version of Big Blue.  I really like that bike.  No, it won’t win any speed contests (except maybe among cargo bikes), but it’s just so sturdy, and capable, and reliable.  I haven’t put in any particularly long rides on it (nothing over 10-12 miles), but I’m always pretty comfortable.  And, while it’s not quite a step-through frame, I do like the easy mount-dismount with the sloping top tube.

In that vein, I’m rather in love with the Kinn Cascade Flyer.  Of course, even if I could get one here in St. Louis, it’s significantly over budget. (We could probably set this up as a bike that both Matthew and I could ride, which might make the expense more justifiable, at least in my head.  AND it’s already set up to accommodate our Yepp child seat.  Just sayin’.)

Source: Kinn Bikes

The Surly Long-Haul Trucker is still on the possibility list, though at this point I’m tempted to wait until the fall and see what colors they’re offering in 2016.

But that’s months away, and, in the meantime, I am actually riding less because, when Big Blue is not available, I don’t have a bike I really like riding.  Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to have the perfect bike, but there is something about having a bike you really love, and I’m not the only one who feels this way.  As stated in a recent Hum of the City post:

A long time ago, I was reading advice on what bike to buy. The article is now lost to the internet wayback machine, but it said that when you go looking for bikes, there is often the bike that you think that you should buy, because it’s the practical or affordable choice, and the bike that you want to buy, the cool bike, which is the bike you desire whether or not it’s practical or affordable. And the author said: “Buy the cool bike.” Why? Because you’ll ride the cool bike, and not leave it in the garage . . .

. . . but I can testify now that with a bike this beautiful and practical, I found myself making up useless errands to run so that I could ride it more often.

In contrast, when Big Blue is not available, I find myself putting off errands that I could do by bike [on BUB], waiting for another time, which then often ends up being a time when I’m out and about in the car.  And while I’m not sure it’s entirely rational (I rode the bike to work 12 miles RT for six months, and it was fine), BUB just doesn’t feel all that reliable.

Much as I would like to make a decision, this all adds up to me being “n-1” and pretty firmly stuck in bicycle buying limbo, while the weather is inviting me to get out and ride more!*

* n = current number of bicycles one owns.  Since there’s always a bike out there that’s newer, better, or serves a different purpose, many bicyclists say their ideal number of bikes is n+1.  n-1 = 😦


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Hmmm… interesting. I LOVE riding in the drops because it’s the only position that doesn’t seem to cause me wrist pain – plus being in a more bent over position makes long rides easier on the bum. But if you’re not into it, then it might make more sense to get something different. I do love Gertrude, my old Trek 800 hybrid for shorter rides – at 35 pounds she’s much too heavy for long distances, but she’s also 30+ years old… I’m sure her modern day siblings are much lighter.

    At least 50% of the bikes I see around here are mountain bikes – many outfitted with slick tires, but still with the front shock, and some dual shock models are ridden as city bikes too. I’m sure we have more hills to deal with than you do, so it might be overkill, but I do occasionally ride my mountain bike around the city in the winter and it is really nice to have those ultra low gears for getting up the hills, and it’s amazing how much difference the shocks make in smoothing out the ride – so if I ever lose Gertrude and have to setup a new errand bike, I’d probably go that route.

    There’s always the cruiser/comfort bike option. I’ve never ridden one, but people seem to love them, and there is something to be said for a more upright riding position. Hmmm…. I’m glad it’s you making this decision and not me! 🙂

    But I totally agree on going with the bike you love. When I bought my Ruby there were a lot of cheaper and more “practical” choices. And it was really difficult to tell how I was gonna feel about the bike after riding it for a while – I almost bought a Giant for $1000 less, but it just wasn’t quite as comfortable as the Ruby was. It might have been just fine with a different saddle, but it was so hard to tell. I finally decided to just go with Ruby, even though part of me didn’t really feel like I “deserved” a bike that nice. I’m so glad that I did, because just about every ride, I find myself saying (either under my breath or actually out loud) “I love this bike… I just LOVE this bike!”

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Big Blue doesn’t have shocks, but the really big tires smooth out of lot of road ugliness, especially if they’re inflated in the middle of the range, instead of as high as possible. That is part of what makes it a nice ride.

      A light bike is a nice idea, but I’m not sure it matters that much for most of the riding I do; it also helps that we no longer have to haul our bikes in and out of the basement!

      Part of the problem is that I’m not entirely sure what my “splurge” bike would be, other than maybe (?) that Kinn.

  2. guinnessmike says:

    Before I bought my Cirrus Pro I was really thinking I wanted drop handlebars of a road bike I tried a model – all carbon with drops at Bike Surgeon and took it out for a spin. I was down in the bars about 5 minutes before my back started telling me no No NO!!!!! I love the my hybrid bars with skinny tires and half carbon but that bike is for flying not transportation. Transportation hauling stuff I will stick to the old Diamondback that takes a licking and keeps on ticking

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Mike, all the bike shop folks seem really big on “if you’re going to be riding any kind of distance, you’ll want the hand-position options the drop bars offer.” But I know you do a decent number of 10+ mile rides, including your big 50-miler coming up for the Tour de Cure. I guess you’re comfortable enough (hands, arms, shoulders) with a standard handlebar?

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