One to rule them all…

…and in the bikeness bind them.

Every once in a while, and now is one of those times, I get into a certain mood. One of the primary qualities of this mood is that I look around at all of my possessions — bikes, books, gear, etc. — and feel like getting rid of all of it so that I can start over, with a clean slate and only own enough stuff instead of too much.

Since this mood is not unfamiliar to me, I know how to combat it. My strategy has three prongs (besides writing about it verbosely):

  • Get rid of a few things and straighten up the rest. This one’s pretty obvious. If I’m feeling snowed in by the physical objects in my world, I can exert my control over them in a direct, active way. It usually doesn’t take much culling, discarding, and straightening to take the edge off of the mood. And things get neater as a result, so it’s a win.
  • Stay out of the shop. There are two reasons for this. First, because this mood is inherently irrational, it’s all too likely that I’ll get rid of something bike-related that I’ll later regret. But the second reason is even more important. When I’m in this mood, I tend to want to take everything apart and put it together in a different way — but the taking things apart seems to help kill the mood, which means that then I’m stuck with a whole bunch of things to put back together. Not a good idea.
  • Engage in a mental exercise. When you’re in a mood to do something that you know from experience that you don’t really want to do (get rid of everything, take apart all of your bikes, etc.), you can often work yourself out of that mood by engaging in a mental exercise in which you play out the consequences of that action, or by creating a scenario in which it would be possible to make that change. This has two purposes. It allows you to work through a counterfactual scenario in your mind without actually doing it. And, it’s damned entertaining.

One of my favorite scenarios for this sort of mental exercise is to try to design a single bicycle for all of my riding wants and needs. But since this is an exercise, there are some constraints for me to embrace.

  1. One frame-set only. Even though many of us know better, we still think that the identify of a bicycle is its frame. And, working with a single frame provides the tightest constraint because it prevents two configurations from existing simultaneously.
  2. Multiple wheel-sets are permitted. While we’re limited to a single frame, being able to swap wheels broadens the utility considerably.
  3. Multiples of a given component are permitted. If there’s a good reason for two saddles, or two sets of handlebars, include them both. But keep in mind rules #5 and #6.
  4. Cost is not a factor. Not so much for the purpose of being able to use really expensive stuff, but so that we don’t have to bother with things like spreadsheets and math.
  5. As few variations as possible. The point of this exercise is to find out what’s enough for your needs, not how many different configurations you can come up with.
  6. As little hassle as possible. Because multiple wheel-sets and other components necessitate reconfiguration, sometimes with substantial wrenching, we must be careful not to introduce more hassle into the process than necessary. A corollary to #5, really.
  7. Call your shot. You must tell us up front what needs and wants you are trying to meet.
  8. Justify. Not just what and how, but why. Without justification, you can never tell what’s enough and what’s too much.

Given these constraints, put together your scenario and post it, or a link to it, in the comments.

I’ll post mine in a few days and we can compare. Keep in mind that this isn’t a competition to see who can come up with the most options, the fewest options, or the most expensive rig. It’s just something to think about while sipping a hot, preferably spiked, beverage in the warmth and comfort of your home while winter rages (or in our case right now, drips) on outside.

Now get to it.

Update: Mine is here — the crossover.

3 thoughts on “One to rule them all…

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