Horses for Courses

Not a Grocery Getter

I’ve been fortunate to spend time riding an unusually eclectic collection of bicycles over the past few years. The partial list includes:

Bacchetta Ti-Aero Volae Century
RANS V2 Formula Pashley Roadster Sovereign
RANS V3 Surly Long Haul Trucker
RANS Stratus XP Civia Hyland
RANS Screamer Tandem Civia Loring
Easy Racers Tour Easy Breezer Finesse
Easy Racers Javelin Breezer Uptown 8
Easy Racers Gold Rush Brompton S-Type
Greenspeed GT-3 Trike Independent Fabrication Club Racer

I’m sure I missed a few. Some of those on the list I owned, others were on extended loans, all were interesting in their unique way, and each harbored a collection of design compromises. A few I still have, but many moved on because I changed my riding habits or they didn’t fit my riding habits in the first place. Probably the most important lesson I learned from experimenting with such a wide variety of bikes is that matching the right type of bike to the right use is more important than laboring over the insignificant differences between competing models within a bike-type. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating: if you’re going to haul cargo, buy a cargo bike; if you’re going to race, buy a racing bike; and if you’re going to commute, buy a commuter. The most lauded bike, if used for some purpose other than the one for which it was designed, is not going to live up to its potential and is likely to disappoint (as the boneyard above so aptly demonstrates!).

6 Responses to “Horses for Courses”

  • Yangmusa says:

    Yes! Horses for courses is spot on, but what bikes to own is still somewhat of an obsession ;-)

    I think up to now I have made the “mistake” of trying to find the “ultimate compromise” – i.e. bikes that do everything well. They may or may not be out there.

    For example – I have a Birdy folding bike, which I use for commuting, touring and fast day rides. Fitted with Stelvios it is a really fast bike, though no racer. This may be the closest to perfect compromise I’ve ever owned.

    I also own an Actionbent Tidalwave III, which I got thinking it could be fast and also capable of touring. It’s been a little disappointing in both departments – it’s not particularly fast (for a recumbent, anyway) and the hard shell seat is too hot and sweaty to be much fun on recreational rides.

    I’m now considering swapping the TW3 for an ICE B1 with a mesh seat. The seat is fantastically comfortable. It can tour, and I know at least one British rider races the B1 so it is hopefully not too slow either. And it folds! Can it be yet another good compromise??

  • daniel runyan says:

    I hear hear you about the “ultimate compromise”.
    What about fitting your riding around your bike? I think it’s also cool to make something out of what you’ve got. Like how the fixed gear bikes migrated out of the velodrome on to the streets.

    love the blog,

  • Mohjho says:

    I don’t race, but could I just borrow that Ti-Aero for a couple of weekends?

  • David says:

    As a single parent of two daughters we have ridden a Santana triplet for 6 1/2 years now. We also have a Burley Rock & Roll tandem that we’ve had for 11 years which my girls started stoking at ages 5 and 3 1/2. They stared in a bike trailer in turn as infants, moved to one in a bike seat on a solo beater bike I fixed up and one in the trailer. Them one on the tandem and the other in the trailer. The trailer was replaced by a Piccolo trail a bike and as I said we then got our triplet.

    I do have a Litespeed mountain bike that I ride only on Sundays…..LOL It is purely an off road performance bike and i love it.

    For the moment when riding with one child or solo I ride the tandem. It is a great bike.

    My new “bike” will be delivered within a month or so. A bicycle built for one, just me…..(-;

    A Velomobile Quest.

    I’m counting down the days

  • andy parmentier says:

    i was seduced by a swiss army knife approach, and sold my beloved tour easy. then i learned that
    i was meant to ALWAYS have a tour easy in my life (i’ve got severe acid reflux condition, and part of my cure is the open riding position of a long wheelbase tour easy style recumbent..the chest is in a relaxed position, and lots of oxygen is delivered to the lungs).
    so i’ll ride a rans zenetik, a unicycle, etc etc but will always have a LWB in my Rx. (by the way, in japan, one can get a prescription for alkaline water (micro-clustered, “kangen” water-every hospital in japan has a water machine).
    cycling-prescription medicine to me on an intuitive basis.

  • John B says:

    I’m having enough trouble finding a bike that’s a good medium range tourer (30-150 miles) and is reasonably fast.

    I had a straight bar hybrid (Specialized Sirrus) and recently bought a RANS V3. The hybrid has acquired larger tyres and drops because it was uncomfortable and slow. The V3 is going to get bigger tyres after a recent 5 puncture ride! The V3 is lovely and comfortable, but I still don’t like it in towns or up hills (it’s not slow, but it’s not fun).

    What strikes me are the bad compromises on alot of bikes when the manufacturers really should know better. Why put aero forks and ultra skinny tyres on a bike then give it flat bars anda very upright riding position? Also I can’t help bet feel I should have gone for a Stratus or an X-tream instead of the V3 as it’s rahter in the middle and not enough of either. What’s your experience Alan?

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