How Many Bikes Do I Need?
How many bikes do I need to get to the next level in cycling? When we look at the pros who could get whatever they want, we find that they use a small number of bikes with different roles.
1) Road bike with powermeter.
This is the primary "everyday" bicycle. Almost all of the top racing cyclists and a growing number of active recreational riders use power meters. We recommend either an SRM or a PowerTap to compliment a sturdy road bike. We specify a stiff yet comfortable frame with Campagnolo Record or Chorus components (unless the client insists on Shimano, but that is another story!), and a set of light but sturdy wheels like the Reynolds Alta Race or Spinergy Xero Lite. We develop the road "fit" model to work around this bike, as most of the time will be spent on it to improve form and technique. Triathletes will also spend most of their time on this bike, learning to ride fast and improving handling skills by riding safely in groups with the faster riders.
2) Light road bike for climbing, spare bike when primary bike is in maintenance, and for "Mental Health" rides.
The climbing bike is a very efficient, lightweight machine which has a geometry similar to the primary bike, but with lighter components, and no powermeter. When training using power, it is easy to get focused on the numbers and to lose much of the sensory input we get from a "pure" bike ride. We like to advise that one bike has no more than a minimal computer, Garmin Edge, or even nothing at all, so one can either race by feel, or ride for the sake of riding. Many times the light bike comes out for recovery rides, for fun group rides, and for aggressive group rides in the hills. We also find that many people like to put more exotic components on the climbing bikes, which have less use and can thus have more "delicate" components.
3) Time Trial bike.
This bike is only necessary for triathletes, and for people who want to do time trials. We do not recommend this as the "only" bike, as we strongly discourage riding time trial bikes in fast groups. These bikes do not handle as well, and if one is in the aero bars, one cannot safely take part in an echelon. Team time trials are different, of course, and training for them can and should be done on this bike. We believe that if one can ride fast, straight and smooth on a road bike, that transitioning to the time trial bike is easy, and can be done effectively and safely.
4) Travel Case or Travel Bike.
There are pros and cons for each. It is really nice to travel and ride. Using a case allows one to use their bike and go anywhere. Using a break-apart bike, one can have a "titanium copy" of their custom road bike, in a durable format with a small travel case that is under the airline maximums. This is great for international travel and for situations where a large case is not possible because of small cars, etc.
5) Track bike, with a road fork and a front brake.
This is definitely not for everyone, but is a tremendous training tool. One can get an unbelievable workout in a short period of time and can develop hyper bike handling skills with a bike like this.
To sum up, we feel that an individual who wants to "do it right", can benefit greatly from a few great bikes with the following parameters:
1) A fully defined Precision Laser Fitting.
2) An educated and informed plan to specify frame and components. These bikes last a long time, so planning here maximizes enjoyment and makes the investment the most cost-effective.
3) A plan for improving riding skills, training, and goals for improvement so these tools can be utilized to improve the rider's cycling lifestyle.
4) We follow the saying that was overheard in an Indy 500 team garage: "The best we can get is barely adequate!"
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KGS Bikes is known as the world's premiere bicycle fitting studio and boutique. For over 25 years, Kevin Saunders, President, has sold high end bicycles and has studied bicycle fitting. KGS Bikes sells bicycles from Serotta, Zinn, Parlee, Co-Motion and Guru, in addition to fitting services For more information visit the KGS Bikes blog, http://blog.kgsbikes.com and the KGS Bikes website, http://kgsbikes.com.