You can never have too many bikes

Or so I’ve heard some avid bikers say. On an excursion to Portland last week I bought a new bike. This is the 7th bike in our basement: 3 of them are Wendy’s, 4 are mine. Crazy? But wait, I can explain …

I bike to work all year round; which entails many days of riding in wet, muddy, or (rarely) even snowy weather. For the last 8 years, my bad weather bike has been a heavy steel mountain bike, purchased some 15 years ago in Munich. It’s been a solid and dependable bike, but since my commute distance increased significantly with our move to South Seattle, it’s weaknesses have become a lot more noticeable: the front derailleur shift lever refuses to shift to the big chain ring; the 7 cog cassette often leaves you wishing for a slightly larger or smaller gear; the cantilever brakes are less than stellar in wet weather, and a pain to maintain; finally, the frame is really a bit too small for me, which puts more strain on my knees than necessary.

Clearly, it was time to retire this trusty old war horse and replace it with something equally rugged, but more performant. These past few months I’ve been trying to figure out what makes the perfect commuter bike. I like road bikes for the fast ride and aerodynamic  position, but slightly wider tires are a good idea on slick roads; fenders are a must in Seattle winters; disk brakes would be great; and decent components, like Shimano 105. Put that all together and you get … a cyclo-cross bike with disk brakes. Unfortunately, the cyclo-cross community seems to have a love affair with cantilever brakes, so disk bikes are few and far between.

My short list consisted of the Trek Portland and the Lemond Poprad. Unfortunately, Trek decided to downgrade key components on the Portland for 2009, and older models are hard to find; and the Poprad turned out to have an extremely long geometry that did not fit me at all. What to do?

This is when fate intervened, steering me unerringly to Veloce Bicycles in Portland, that just happened to have a beautiful second hand Salsa Las Cruces on consignment. The bike had been custom-built by an enthusiast and significantly upgraded over the factory standard. A quick test ride confirmed that it was the perfect size frame for me. It would have been a crime not to seize this golden opportunity!

Now I’m sure you’ll agree that 7 bikes are completely reasonable.

P1110105 P1110106 P1110109

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