A cafe stop bike

How many bikes does a cyclist need? Maybe need is the wrong word as that suggests you have to justify each bike in some way. I often find myself doing this when backed into a corner by people who just don’t understand. Most people will accept the need for a best bike or race bike, some sort of winter trainer (so your best bike doesn’t get ruined in adverse weather) and a mountain bike. How anyone can exist with just three bikes I can’t imagine. To those three I would need, yes need to have:

  • A time trial bike, I don’t do all that many time trials these days but I can’t imagine not having one.
  • An alternative to your best bike – bit of a tricky one to explain this, all I can say is that it needs to be different, perhaps a Shimano groupset instead of Campagnolo, a different frame material or something like that.
  • A fixed or single speed machine, ideally built up out of the spare parts bin. The main reason you need one of these is so can debate gearing with other people who have built up similar machines. ‘I’m running 68 inches, what do you run on?’ that kind of thing.
  • Another bike – this is a bike that you have that you never really ride. There’s nothing wrong with it but there’s always another bike that seems more appropriate to ride. You think of getting rid of it but it’s comforting to have it in reserve just in case.

So those are the seven types of bike that I had until a short while ago. There are many others I could justify if I needed to, a cross bike, a classic English or Italian steel bike, a hybrid, a unicycle, I could go on and I frequently do, normally for the benefit of my wife you understand. Over the last year I’ve managed, rather painfully it has to be said, to ‘move on’ a couple of bikes to get me down to seven. On a more positive note I’ve also moved house and have created a space for a new recruit, which I think is needed as I feel that there’s something missing in my life. Trouble was I couldn’t quite work out what type of bike to get. Then while out on an easy spin with Dave Kirton it came to us. Dave had rather annoyingly overtaken me on the bikes front, as my stable had been declining he’d been increasing his stock justifying new bikes left right and centre, getting old frames sprayed, taking advantage of the Bike to Work Scheme and unearthing long lost frames from the corner of his garage to build up into new machines. However, Dave, in a moment of crisis, had become quite philosophical about his stable of bikes. In fact I could see the worry on his face as he said…

‘What if one day I think that’s it I’ll never need another bike?’

This of course is quite a ridiculous notion and to any right thinking person this situation could never actually occur in real life. It’s like saying ‘what if the earth suddenly stopped spinning would we all fly off into space?’ But remember Dave wasn’t thinking straight, he was in a state of panic, so a solution needed to be found, and quickly, so to help him out we started to talk possibilities. It was when we were discussing what to do with an old 531 frame he had rather impressively made himself that a new type of machine came to us. A Café Stop Bike! And so a new breed of bike was born and since we invented it we set the rules for what it must be.

So if you’ve read this far, firstly I applaud you for your persistence, but secondly I assume you want an answer to the questions:

‘What on earth is this idiot droning on about? And ‘What’s a bloody Café Stop Bike anyway?’

Well firstly you must be able to ride to the café or tea shop on it, in fact all the way from your doorstep to the café. If it fails on this point it simply won’t do and you’ll have to call it something else – a ‘Going Only as far as the Post Office Bike’ for example. Secondly it must look good, there’s no point sitting in a nice warm cafe looking through the window at a rusting heap with buckled wheels and a scuffed saddle. You also want fellow cyclists to cast it a glance and give a nod of approval as they wander past – feeling proud of your bike is part of the experience. However it shouldn’t be immaculate or too flashy, so this rules out just going to the bike shop and buying a new bike or going on eBay and buying up loads of expensive retro components. What we’d like to see is a carefully thought out bike built up yourself, ideally with a Campag 9 speed groupset – that’s the one thing our bikes have in common, and remember we set the rules, so there.

As long as you stick to these rules you have a free hand and soon we expect manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon and produce these machines in vast numbers, you heard it here first. Stranger things have happened; after all who would have thought that fixed wheel road bikes would actually be renamed ‘Fixies’ and would be manufactured from new when everyone used to make them up for next to nowt from the spare parts bin!

As a final point if you think that having all these bikes is overdoing it somewhat think on this: at the Wheelers’ Bring and Buy sale as I was packing up my stall in October at the end of the night an elderly gent came up and bought a set of old brakes off me for a bargain £4. He’d already been to the stall a few times that night and seemed to buy the brakes in desperation. As he left he nudged me with his elbow in a knowing way before adding ‘well I had to buy something tonight as I’ve got 107 bikes at home. I was in no doubt that he was telling me the truth and shortly afterwards Norman Bielby confirmed that this was true. So now I’m back up to 8 it seems that I only have another 99 to go!

Paul Christon – December 2011

Posted on December 6, 2011, in Article. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A cafe stop bike.

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