I’ve never been able to bring a new bike home and just ride it as is. I always feel compelled to change at least some little detail to make it my own. It could be something as simple as changing the color of the bar tape, to a full blown rebuild with new bars, cranks, saddle and the whole deal. Some bikes closely fit the picture in my mind of how they should look; these tend to get left alone. Others may have a “problem” such as a mismatched set of racks, or a roadie saddle on a utility bike; these don’t make it very long before they go under the knife. Off-the-shelf bikes such as my Surly tend to get more seriously worked over, whereas bikes that are built to order like my Rivendell require less fussing and finessing.
I’m guessing this compulsion goes back to my childhood. I can remember being as young as 6 or 7 years old and rebuilding my bike in the garage with my older brother. He helped me take a scratched up, ugly old Schwinn Stingray, and rebuild it into a kid’s dream bike with purple sparkle paint, motorcycle handlebars, and a racing seat. That bike was so cool, and I was so proud that we built it together, that it left a mark on me. Perhaps going through that process is what set me up for a lifetime of tinkering and tweaking on bicycles.
What about you? Can you leave well enough alone or are you compelled to modify your bikes whether they need it or not? Would you rather search for that perfect bike and buy it ready to roll, or do you gain more satisfaction starting with an ugly duckling and turning it into a swan? Share your story; we’d love to hear it!