What makes a favorite bike? I’ve had many (too many) bikes over the years, and a few stand out in my mind as favorites, though I can’t say why for sure. Certainly, every time I purchase a bike I anticipate that I’ll like it, and hope that it becomes a favorite, but for any number of reasons, most have fallen short.
A favorite bike by my definition, is the bike you jump on when you’re tired and sore but you have a long ride ahead of you. It’s the bike you grab by default when you don’t have a good reason to choose one bike over the other. It’s the bike that surprises you by needing its tires replaced because you didn’t realize how much you’ve been riding it. It’s the first bike that comes to mind when someone asks the old question, “If you only had one…”.
Thinking back, there are a few things all of my favorite bikes had in common.
- Probably most importantly, they fit. An ill-fitting bike, no matter how nice, is never a pleasure to ride.
- Maybe by chance, maybe not, they were all made with steel tubing and had compliant rides.
- They were all set up for a relatively upright seating position.
- They were outfitted with Brooks saddles. I’m not sure if the egg or the chicken was first here; did the saddles contribute to my liking the bikes, or did I end up putting Brooks saddles on my favorite bikes?
- They had relatively robust rims and tires with decent flotation.
- They were set up for all-weather and nighttime riding.
- They had old school friction shifters of some sort (either downtube shifters or bar-ends set for friction).
I have a bike in-house right now that only meets a few of the above criteria, yet I find I’m grabbing it more and more. It’s a thoroughly more modern bike than most of my previous favorites, yet I’m enjoying it immensely. Maybe as technology is evolving and maturing, my tastes are changing as well. Maybe it is possible to teach an old dog a new trick or two.
I’d love to hear about your favorites, what you liked about them, where they are now, and which bike you’re currently enamored with.