Opinion: Winter bikes

Logical seasonal beasts or delusional money-pits?
Winter bikes: why?! © Ric McLaughlin
By Ric McLaughlin

Whilst sitting in an airport recently, scrolling through my Twitter feed for that ever-elusive point of interest I began to notice a series of tweets. They all hinged around the phrase 'dusting off the winter bike'.

The concept of having a 'winter' bike is admittedly nothing new, the idea being that you protect your pride and joy, snuggly wrapped in cotton wool and old duvets in your shed, ready to flourish forth like a butterfly escaping it's cocoon come spring. In the mean time you hack around the woods on something you don't really care about.

It's a concept which has seemingly increased in popularity too. But when these 'winter-specific' machines (typically hardtails decked out in hardy kit) start edging up to and over the £1000 mark, surely we're all going a bit mental.

Surely too, these polar bear-like steads have similar wear and tear issues? You can’t put any bike away caked in mud and sludge and expect to bring it out the following morning in prime operational condition.

Fairies don’t clean bikes and even if they did, there are no such thing as fairies.

Winter wheels and/or tyres I can understand though - old wheels needn’t fear the permeation of grit and slime whilst freshly-cut tyre tread pierces mud a lot better than the rounded off edges left by a summer of excess. Maybe some new brake pads too.

So what’s wrong with simply being better at working on your bike?! It’s a process like no other which can end in maddening mechanical meltdowns and hydraulic fluid pissing out of hoses like the final stanza of a Tarantino epic. But you learn a little bit every time you do it and get better at fixing your bike as a result.

Even replacing bearings and tinkering with grease nipples are relatively simple tasks. Take stuff apart, clean, re-grease, put back together again. Is it just me or is that not at all a complicated process necessitating the ownership of another bike?!

Maybe that’s just it, as mountain bikers, we do jump at the opportunity to own another bike.

The old equation rings true; N+1 (N being the number of bikes that you need).

In financial terms however, it makes even less sense. Calculate the price of new brake pads, some new tyres, a tub of grease and a work stand against the price of a whole new bike... You could even chuck a load of tools into the equation and probably the construction of a new shed and it still wouldn’t be close.

Finally however, in terms of riding, granted, it’s good to get used to riding different things but surely riding a consistent bike is more rewarding than climbing on to something that for nine months of the year you can’t be bothered with?! Isn’t it?!

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