While we all know from our Velominati rules that the minimum number of bikes one should own is 3, the ideal is number is, in fact, n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. Yes, we’re always on the lookout for a newer, older, better, sexier, lighter, different bike to add to the collection. But, as Velominati warns, there is a maximum number of bikes one can have, as defined by the equation s-1, “where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.” Yup, we know you love your bikes, but don’t forget, you love your partner as well.
The obsession that we all have as bike owners and collectors is summed up nicely by Dave Walker’s cartoon of the fantasy bike shed, not least because it includes all the excuses and explanations one could ever need to acquire another bike. I have to admit that it was difficult explaining to my other half why I needed two winter trainers rather than one, until I had the lightbulb moment as I walked through the door that, “this will actually save me money in the long run when you take into account I’ll be spending less on repairs to 1 bike as I’ll be using 2, thus meaning that they’ll be getting less wear and tear.” Genius! Although I think I was perilously close to s-1 at this point.
All this got us to thinking here at Ride Velo. I’ve done my fantasy cricket, football and rugby teams. I even concocted, with a particularly geeky bike nerd friend of mine, my fantasy Tour de France team (Merckx, Pantani, Kelly, Cancellara, G. Thomas, Cavendish, Simpson, Millar). But I’ve never formally written down my fantasy bike shed (the contents, not the shed itself).
So here goes. I tried to limit it to ten bikes, but in true Velominati style had to +1.
My high end road bike.
This was a tricky one. I’m a huge De Rosa fan and have one in real life. Their latest offering that we saw at the NEC Cycle Show had me drooling. But the bike that really gets my heart racing, palms sweating and hairs sticking up on the back of my neck is the beautiful, elegant, ridiculously cool Passoni Top Genesis. It has all the credentials: titanium, light, fast and, most importantly, hand-built in Italy, meaning, of course, that you should really fly out to the factory near Milan to get it properly fitted.
Single speed city bike
There’s nothing better than zipping through the traffic on a fixie. In real life I have a cheap but reliable 6-KU which I’m happy to chain up against the railings but this is a fantasy list, right? So I went a bit upmarket, although not ridiculously so. Initially I nearly went for the Pinarello Lungavita, again a favourite at the Cycle Show. But then I came across this stunning State Bicycle 6061 in matte black. It has the advantage of a flip flop hub so you can swap the wheel over from fixed to freewheel single speed if your calves are hurting from all that never ending pedalling.
Track bike: Cinelli Vigorello
A city fixie is all well and good but any self-respecting cyclist needs to get out on to the track once in a while. My local is at Herne Hill in South London. But in my time I’ve had a go on the tracks at Newport, Manchester and the crazy Calshot with a 45 degree banking, and you can now experience the thrill of the Olympic Velodrome. I’m afraid that there’s only one name that I‘ll consider when it comes to a decent track bike and this Cinelli fits the bill.
I was extremely restrained when it came to a winter bike. After all, if your main bike is a Passoni, why not a Pinarello for a wet weather bike? But let’s take this seriously: this bike needs to be sturdy enough to withstand gale force winds, so we probably want something with a little but not too much weight, so steel or at least alloy . That’ll also give you confidence when you accidentally go into one of those water-filled pot holes that you don’t know the depth of. Let’s also make sure there’s clearance for mudguards, but we still want a bit of zip. Condor bikes offer the perfect winter bike in this respect. It also comes from a great line and heritage of classy machines. You can hold your head up high when you turn up on the Condor Acciaio. Not at all flashy, but a respectable winter bike.
Let’s face it: bikes these days may be super lightweight, reliable and responsive. But compared to the old classic bikes they look shit. The 1970s was saw some absolute beauties: those elegant, skinny steel tubes. Ah! My real vintage bike is actually a rather nice but knackered Peugeot from the 1980s inherited from Uncle Tony, but it looks amazing compared to most mass produced carbon monsters on the market. This Colnago Road Racer from the 1970s screams class, though not cheap at €2,499. But heads will be turning when you turn up outside the country pub on a summer’s day astride one of these. Just remember to wear the right retro clothing!
I’ve never had one of these but always had a hankering for a brute of a machine that can take up the same amount of space as a small car. What fun to potter along at a leisurely pace with kids, dog and a picnic down a country road with a diesel guzzling beast desperately trying to overtake you. Fingers up to you, you carbon burning, greenhouse gas creating creep. CHILL OUT! Enjoy the scenery and the many wonderful hedgerows that you never notice. I saw this wonderful creation at the Design Museum exhibition and thought: yeah I’d love one of those in my shed! It was built and created by one of those hippy Brighton types to take his kids to the beach.
The first time I saw someone ride a Brompton, quite a few years ago now, I have to confess that I let out a guffaw and vowed that I’d never be seen dead on one of those ridiculous tiny wheeled Heath Robinson devices. But a growing respect for what is a beautiful piece of engineering, along with first hand accounts of the great ride they offer saw me slowly, grudgingly accept that this was a great commuting solution. Hop on this baby to the tube or train station, fold it up, and whizz to the office in no time. Then I saw a guy do the Etape on one that had customised drop handlebars. He flew up and down the Tourmalet and I was still struggling to keep up with him as we tackled the Hautacam climb. All in freezing rain. While he wasn’t wearing a 3 piece suit and mac, I was impressed enough to pick one up on my return to London Town and have sworn by it ever since. No longer a laughing stock, these bikes have built a deserved and well won reputation and are a must have for every urban commuter. They also take up a remarkably small space in the shed when folded up. I like this one in lagoon blue. But please use a Brooks saddle.
I have to confess that I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to winter cycling. But hell, everyone has to have a go at cross racing. Mud, endurance, leaping on and off the bike, carrying it over obstacles… takes me back to those school days on the rugby pitch and that glorious feeling at the end of it all when you’re knackered, red faced with exertion and the exposure of the elements. Craft beer and a hot dog at the end. Then getting home and sinking into the bath. Glorious. Pick up this gorgeous looking Colnago reduced by £500 at Chain Reaction. As I told the beautiful and long suffering Mrs Ride Velo, only yesterday, they are also great for commuting in the winter and therefore an essential.
I have to confess that my experience of mountain biking is limited, but a mate who knows the Malvern Hills took me for an exhilarating trip up, down and, I think, through them as well as forests, streams and rocky paths that painted a massive grin across my face that stayed with me for days. Not an expert here at all, but I know what looks good, and soft tails don’t, so I want one of these in my shed instead.
Ride Velo recently did a profile of the Cycling Super Hero who’s cycling across all 7 continents in a superman costume to raise money for charity. What an amazing guy! I’ve often thought that if it all goes terribly wrong and I can’t pay the mortgage anymore I could just disappear with a sturdy bike, attach a tent, a few bags and blog my way across the world. Let’s face it, we’ve all had that fantasy, no? One thing that’s always put me off, and excuse me for appearing a little crass here, but touring bikes look pretty horrible, don’t they? But I may make this life-changing leap and cycle the world after all because this touring bike looks the business!
Okay so time for my +1, a Time trial bike
It’s my +1 because, if I’m being honest this is a whole discipline that I’ve never been able to get to grips with. All those long km on your own, I’m sorry, but it’s just too painful, and I’m too old to maintain that position for more than 5 minutes. I went on a trip to Wales with some cycling buddies once and was forced to do a time trial, and the sheer humiliation of being overtaken by someone who set off a full minute behind me was unbearable and I have since vowed never to submit myself to a similar experience. But time trial bikes looks amazing. Remember that a bike is not just to ride on. It’s a work of art. It’s to look at. To admire. Actually this shouldn’t go in the shed. Hang it up on the wall over the fireplace and just love it.
We'd love to know what you would have in your Fantasy Bike Shed. Post your ideas in the comment section below! Of course if you're too busy to go out and do the research I am also available to act as a personal bike shopper for you. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.