I got a new bike: a process analysis + pretty pictures.

I (finally) got a new bike. Here's how I busted past the decision paralysis and chose which bike to get.

A couple weeks ago I finally got a bike. Check it out:

Okay, that’s not it. That’s my nephew’s sweet ride. I wanted something a little more in keeping with my last name:

There's beauty in its simplicity

That’s actually part of an email exchange with a new special lady pal of mine. She’s really into bikes and I haven’t asked if I can use her name here yet so let’s call her The Biker Chick. (She’ll love that ‘cause she’s pretty much the opposite of the image that’s in your head right now.)

Anyway, I’ve wanted a bike for long damn time. Each spring since moving to Montreal I think, “I should get a bike.” Then I don’t. Some years I’ve even taken the extra step of going around and touching bikes. But, for one reason or another, I’m never quite motivated enough to do it.

This year, with inspiration from The Biker Chick, I made it past the Velleity Point.

It’s a phrase I made up from two real words

Velleity is a fantastic word. Here’s a dictionary doing better than I could:

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 1.42.25 PM

The “Velleity Point”, as I’ve coined it, (CC0, go right ahead and use it for whatever you like) is the tipping point where you’re finally motivated enough to do something.

Cool phrase, better concept. “I want to sign up for the gym, but how do I push myself past the Velleity Point?”

Learn it, use it, love it.

(Self-improvement FTW, amirite?)

Apparently bikes have makes and models just like cars

I do not enjoy the buying process for cars. Or motorcycles (of which I’ve only had one, even though that number is still a shock to most people). And now you can add bikes to that list.

Yep, that happened
Yep, that happened

I was looking at the Devinci St. Tropez, the Trex 7.2 and the Giant Escape 2. (Plus or minus a step maybe, depending on the brand and how spend-y I was feeling when visiting different stores.) They’re all sorta basic hybrids. They’re the kind of bikes you buy when you don’t know the answer to question, “What kind of bike do you want?” and the answer to the question “what kind of bike do you have” is “none” or “the one my mom bought me when I was 12.”

I didn’t know what kind of bike I wanted because, not having had one, I had no idea how I would use it. Commute to work? Maybe, though I like walking to work. Long rides on the weekend? Maybe, that could be fun. Running errands in the city? Maybe but how many errands does a guy really have? The jury is still out on those.

Summer 2009, Recreating our childhood bike adventures w/ my brother Peter
Summer 2009, Recreating our childhood bike adventures w/ my brother Peter
Peter riding on the old railway lines. These paths seemed so much bigger when we were children...
Peter riding on the old railway lines. These paths seemed so much bigger when we were children…

Then it comes down to features. What kind of shifters and frame and brakes and gearing do you want. Again, there’s no way to make this decision if you’ve never had a decent bike long enough to develop preferences. The conversations with anyone knowledgeable about bikes sounded like this to me:

Them: “What kind of food do you want?”

Me: “I don’t know. I’ve never had food. Just give me some food.”

Them: “Okay, well, what kind of food do you like?”

Me: “I don’t know. I’ve never tasted food before.”

Them: “Well I can’t give you food unless you tell me what you like”

Me: “But how will I know what I like until I’ve tasted the food you give me?”

After reading many reviews of bikes in general, and hanging out on forums, I noticed most complaints and preferences are about things I would never know unless I used a bike for a while so I just decided the best way forward was to get one and see how it shook out.

My hypothesis: the actual bike I chose wouldn’t matter in the slightest. You just gotta start with something so you can start developing preferences.

A deadline

I gave myself a fake hard deadline of May 31st to buy a bike and forced myself to stick to it. This was surprisingly effective in combatting the velleity, turning the unpleasantness of shopping into the sexiness of accomplishing tasks. (I love you tasks!)

“I must have a bike by May 31st” was my mantra. I told The Biker Chick I was a little stressed because my deadline was coming up and I hadn’t done enough research or tried enough bikes. She said, being very supportive, “well you can push your deadline back a week, it’s only one you made up.”

I looked at her with a death stare.

I do not miss deadlines. And if I pushed mine back, life as I know it would’ve fallen apart.

On May 30th, I left my house on a mission and wasn’t coming home until some store somewhere was building me a bike. After a month of mild stress and confusion, this beauty came home with me:

IMG_1638

Pointless stress

I’m happy with the choice but in all honesty, once I had the “hybrid around $600” part figured out, I could’ve went out and bought the first one I saw. Any of them would’ve been fine. (For the record, the first one I saw was the Trek 7.2 – and I’m sure it would have been just fine.)

When I got my Volvo many years ago, I didn’t actually pick it out. My brother did. (Note: not the same brother from the pictures above.) I gave him a budget and he came home with a car for me. It was such a stress-free shopping experience and I really liked that car – a car I never would have chosen for myself. Had I been able to do the same thing here with a bike, I wonder if I would have liked the result even more. It’s quite a well-known thing in my head that have to chose can taint the outcome.

That said, the bike I got is turning out to be pretty pretty pretty good.

I was somewhere where I didn't know where I was
I was somewhere where I didn’t know where I was

There is one preference that has already shaken out: I have short legs with a long torso. So I need a bigger bike (medium or large) to get my upper body geometry right – mine is a medium. However, the crossbar is a little high and can be tight on my nards if I’m wearing loose underpants. A bike with a step-through frame (you know, the ones I always assumed were for girls) or a bike with the crossbar at more of an angle could be a bit more balls-friendly for someone of my shape.

And that’s a thing I never would have known before I bought mine and rubbed my nards on it for a while.

Costs

The deciding factor was actually cost. I was able to get a 2015 model of my bike so it was only $450, vs $630 for the 2016 version. Everything else I was looking at was between $600-700. This left a little more room in the budget for a nicer, lighter helmet and to outfit the bike a little more. To start, I added a stand, fenders and a rack.

Thirsty Al! I got this maybe 10 years ago and never had a use for it until now.
Thirsty Al! It’s a little pouch for carrying phones and stuff – I got this maybe 10 years ago and never had a use for it until now.

I’ll also need a lock, front + rear night lights, a basket to go on the rack, something to tie stuff down probably, a small seat pouch thing, a pump and any tools I don’t already have.

Then I should be able to really test what I do and don’t like having a bike in a city for.

I biked to the park and hung out in a hammock. That's new.
I biked to the park and hung out in a hammock. That’s new.

So, in total, I should be able to get decent kit and stick to my original initial budget of $1000.

Maybe I’ll write another round-up at the end of the summer. In the meantime, I’m gonna enjoy getting lost.

MOAR!!!

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