Bike dreams

The ever faithful Trusty Steed - but is it time to retire him?

The ever faithful Trusty Steed – but is it time to retire him?

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I have cheated on the Trusty Steed.

It started, as these things usually do, innocently enough. One quiet afternoon at work an email advertising Evans Cycles’ end of summer sale landed in my inbox. I had nothing pressing on my to do list at the time, so I clicked through.

As I glanced through the array of slightly-cheaper-than-usual bikes, one of them caught my eye. The Norco Cityglide 3 – a beautiful powder blue, three-speed town bike. Not a brand I’d ever heard of before, but never mind that. My head had been turned.

Over the next few days, my thoughts kept returning time and time again to that shining steed. The fact that I was, thanks to the wonders of AdChoices, reminded of it on a daily basis didn’t exactly help matters. There it was at the top of the Guardian homepage every day, winking at me seductively, promising me a life of stylish, effortless cycling. I pictured the two of us together – me, in my prettiest dresses, immaculate makeup and perfectly coiffed hair, every bit the style equal of this lovely bicycle – heading out in the warm afternoon sunshine for long, leisurely rides along the canal or along streets miraculously devoid of traffic.

It was at the point that I started to imagine pedalling along a network of fully segregated cycle paths that somehow magically sprang up wherever I went that reality kicked in.

Not only was a three-speed town bike incompatible with an almost 20-mile round trip commute, there was also the fact that I really didn’t need a new bike. The Trusty Steed – the ever faithful and reliable Trusty Steed – was everything I could ever need in a bike. I didn’t need a new one, and couldn’t exactly afford one either.

So, with a heavy heart, I bid my new love goodbye. I put all thoughts of beautiful powder blue bikes out of my mind. I stopped daydreaming of glamorous pootles. I changed my preferences on AdChoices so I wouldn’t be constantly reminded of what could never be mine.

And then the Trusty Steed started having problems with his gears. First he kept sticking when I tried to shift down a gear. After discovering I could get round this by going down two gears and then back up one, he then started randomly jumping between gears. When it got to the point where I had no idea what gear I was actually in, I realised I had to take him in to the bike shop.

The mechanic diagnosed a worn chain and rear cassette. To replace both would cost £60, including labour.

My heart sank at this news. Every month for the past three months I’ve had to replace bits of the Trusty Steed. First it was his bottom bracket. Then it was the saddle and seat post after both got nicked. Finally, it was the back tyre and inner tube after getting them impaled on a bolt. Each one of these cost me in the regions of £50.

Over the seven a half years I’ve had him, I’ve spent a vast sum getting the Trusty Steed repaired. One service alone cost me almost as much as I paid for him. Each time I’ve told myself that it’s like getting a new bike, as he’s getting just about every moving part on him replaced.

But this felt like a repair too far. What if there turned out to be other things that needed replacing on him? How much would that cost? What if, after spending all this money on fixing him, he developed a problem that couldn’t be fixed? He is quite old, after all, and I have put him through a lot over the years.

Maybe it’s time I retired him.

Having given myself permission to play the field, my thoughts turned once again to my bike of dreams. This time, now the first flush of bike lust had passed, I was able to look at it a little more critically. It was still beautiful, but would a three speed really get me to and from work every day?

Just as I was about to abandon my pretty bike dreams for something more prosaic, I noticed the Norco Cityglide 8. Same retro style, different colours, just as beautiful…but with more gears. All of a sudden my bike of dreams looked like it might become a reality.

So what happened next? You’ll have to wait and see…

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10 thoughts on “Bike dreams

  1. I hear what you’re saying, and I know how easy it is to get distracted by shiny new things… 😉 (“Oh, you know, I think that new rucksack would be so much better than this old one” “Oh, I wonder if toeclips would improve my riding” etc).

    I do about 5,000 miles per year on my bike (Mongoose hybrid), for about three years so far (sorry, I’m new to this cycle commuting malarkey). 15,000 miles and counting. I’m on my second cassette’n’chainrings, third chain, second bottom bracket, second pannier rack, second back wheel, fifth or sixth set of brake blocks (I forget which). Which all adds up to significantly more than I paid for the bike.

    But until the frame physically breaks, I won’t give up or trade in my ride: “This is my bike. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”

  2. Just discovered your great blog… I think it’s a grand idea, because if you get the Trusty Steed repaired just one more time, you’ll have a spare bike for when Bike 1 is at the shop, or for dirty weather days, as it looks like a tough randonneur type!
    I too covet an N+1 on which I can pootle in flowing dresses, as my fleet flat bar commuter isn’t really a stately pootler. Some days I would just like to pretend I’m Dutch and ride in girly clothes!

    • P.S. I don’t think the repair situation is all that bad WRT the Trusty steed, because the bolt and the saddle thief could just as easily happen with the new bike, so I’d discount those. Also, think about what just ONE service and rego costs with a car, not to mention the petrol. You’re way ahead. So I’d be keeping him as a spare.

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