Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to buy a bike

I'm not here to offer financial advice on bike purchases. Obviously, the physical act of buying a bike involves exchanging money for the product. There are a few different ways to do this, such as cash, credit cards and payment plans, but I'll let you figure out what's best for you when it comes to these more mundane issues.

Instead, I'm here to offer advice on buying a bike when, for some reason or other, you're not inclined to or perhaps aren't allowed to.

Often, the only barrier to getting a new set of wheels is someone else; be it a wife, husband, father or any other rational human being whose financial sense outweighs their love for bicycles (if indeed they even possess a love for bicycles). For the remainder of this post, such people will be lovingly referred to as the Minister of War and Finance.

Specious arguments / Lame excuses

A couple of years ago, my Minister of War and Finance and I drove across the Nullarbor. This trip involved a lot of coastal driving which would have seen my steel road bike potentially suffer from rust. Not wanting to dunk it in fish oil, rendering it stinky forever, I posited that I needed to buy an aluminium road bike. Two weeks later I was the proud owner of a Cannondale CAAD10.

My Cannondale, not rusting in Esperance, Western Australia.

The red herring

Sometimes, all you need to do is get the bike purchased and deal with the fallout later. This can involve some lying creativity.

I have recently been helping a friend, Roger*, with the purchase of a new bicycle. On a public section of Facebook, he posted this;
oh i have been thinking about the trek cobia- probably too much money so will hold off for now and look around in a few months. I am saving my money to buy my girlfriend dresses and nice jewellery
Then, in a private message, he sent this;
i am going to get the trek cobia in the next week of so- lifes too short.also its nearly 2013 in bikes isn't it? that means i should be able to strike a deal. plus Juliet* doesn't need to buy any other shit x
This is an excellent example of blindsiding your Minister of War and Finance. Obviously there will be music which you will have to face later but at least you'll be facing said music with a new bike.

The sale

This leads onto the sale. As my friend, Roger*, quite astutely points out, the start of the new bike season, which happens about now, is a good time to get a deal on the bikes of the previous year. Everyone loves a good deal, even non-bike lovers, so if you've been working on getting the New Bike Bill through the Ministry of War and Finance, sometimes a sale price is all that's needed to push the motion through.

The sneaky upgrade

While not strictly the means to a new bike, this method can offer real benefits to your current stable and what's more, it's virtually untraceable. And of course, if you do it enough, your bike will be completely different eventually.

The only potential downfall to this method is your mates. It's important to warn any visitors who are familiar with bicycles not to exclaim, "Ooh, nice new wheel! How much was that?" in front of the Minister of War and Finance.

Get a job in a bike shop

Simple but very effective. If you work in a bike shop, you will get all the best deals and you can justify any purchase as work-related research. Some bosses will even let you take bikes out of the shop on lay-by. This is great because you don't have to pay a cent...until later.

I once worked with a guy, Rudolph*, who had a normal Monday to Friday job and then worked in a bike shop on Saturdays. Instead of getting paid in cash, he received goods. This is great too, because you avoid paying income tax.

N + 1

Sometimes, the only person who needs convincing is yourself. In these instances, you need only remind yourself of the formula "N + 1 = the number of bikes I need" where N equals the number of bikes you currently own.

For those lacking confidence with algebra, this means you always need another bike, no matter how many you own, forever and ever.

Although this formula has never been formally proven, the physicist Alfonso Battarucci wrote in the margins of his journal that he had found a proof. Unfortunately, soon after this he died and no one since then has been able to formalise a proof. That said, it is widely considered to be true based on empirical research.

I will go faster

Another good way to convince yourself that a new bike is necessary is to tell yourself that you will go faster. While this probably isn't true, it has been found to be an effective form of self-delusion.

I hope that you have found this advice helpful and that some of it leads you to the purchase of a new bicycle or two.

*All names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty).


  1. Any comment on the value of the Boardman range of road bikes compared to Cannondales of a similar price? Thinking of spending £1000-£1500.

  2. Would I get a quicker response if I were to agree that Bradley Wiggins is a cunt?

  3. No. But you do get a response for reminding me. Both Cannondale and Boardman make good bikes. If you send me the links of some that you are interested in, I'd be happy to offer my opinion.

  4. A great article on the tribulations of being a bloke or a cyclist really! Plus looking at the algebra argument n+1=∞ is no bad thing with bicycles as opposed to if it was cars or fashion procurement in the case of women!
    Happy Riding watch out for the Div's!