Ahhh bicycles. Is it possible to have just one? And if you have just one, is it possible to be satisfied with just that one? Can you be satisfied with two? How many bikes does a person really need?
In the past I thought my next bike might be a full-susension enduro mountain bike, specifically, the Commencal Meta AM 29. But to be completely honest, my vision will not get better. I won’t wake up tomorrow suddenly capable of safely riding down bike parks in Whistler. My vision has in fact gotten worse over the last year and the Chromag Rootdown hard tail that I built up this year is already more capable than my abilities. The bike could do anything I want it to, and it has never let me down or left me wanting.
So my bike lust started to take me in a different direction, gravel bikes! I was checking websites, dreaming of a fast city commuting bike that is a bit burlier than most road bikes, with fatter tires to absorb bumps and potholes while still being capable on gravel and dirt trails. I checked several websites, and eventually found my way to the Otso Warakin steel framed gravel bike.
It has a steel frame and rigid carbon fork, drop bars, but I could use a single chain ring like on mountain bikes, and it has room for luggage, fat tires and enough water bottles to make long trips easy to do. I also found out one of my riding buddies had recently gotten the same bike and he gave it an excellent review as a commuter and touring bike. Is this my next bike?
I used Otso’s bike builder to spec out what i’d want and in the end, came up with a final price tag of $3,174 Canadian, which by many bike standards, is not all that bad. I love the unpainted bare steel frame, the idea that it could take me on long trips, and be a fast city commuter.
I try not be impulsive though, and before buying another bike, thought it best to sit back, sip some coffee, and make a list of what I really want.
I want a bike that is fast. Yes, I am blind, but I’ve given up a lot and the feeling of wind blowing across my face while speeding down the road or trail is not something I want to give up. I want decent fat tires. I don’t need really tough and heavy mountain bike tires, and smaller, light tires are faster, but it’s nice to have a little extra cushion and knobs to handle trails, mud, potholes, unexpected roots and bumps. I also like having a dropper post, which lets me drop the seat so I can shift my weight and have more control, especially going downhill. I want a bike that is fun to ride, tough and also that won’t break my heart if it gets stolen.
That last bit is tough. I wish I lived in a place where asshats and dickholes did not steal bicycles. I’m not particularly religious, but I also hope there is a special pit in hell for people that would steal a bike from a blind person. But I live in a world where I bike with 2-3 locks which have to be used every time I park my bike. Even then, I’ve seen many people around me have their bikes stolen, and shady dudes walking the streets with bolt cutters and angle grinders. If a thief really wants your bike, they will get it.
After considering all this, I finally found my next bike!
And there it is! My new bike is my old commuter bike. A bike that was given to me by my brother, and kitted out over time with lots of hand me down parts, and a couple upgrades here and there over the years.
It has light but thick enough tires to get around the city quickly, but still handle trails and mud.
It has a dropper post which works some of the time (it usually needs an extra tug to get it all the way up), but it works well enough for my commuting and light trail needs.
It has old but decent front suspension for city potholes, jumping up on and off curbs and even light trail riding.
Most importantly, it is fun to ride, still puts a smile on my face, but is from an old company that no longer exists and won’t grab as much attention as a brand new $3000 bicycle.
If I change anything in the future to it, it’ll be cosmetic changes that make it uglier and less appealing to thieves. Hello Kitty decals, pink and orange clashing components, maybe a rattle can paint job.
It sucks to live in a world where bike thieves stop us from riding nice bikes daily. The ideal commuter bike is one that has good components without being too good. I would still be gutted if this bike were stolen as it has so much sentimental value to me, but it does everything I want in a fun commuting bike without costing me an additional $3,000 dollars. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s perfect for me and my needs. Sorry Otso Warakin, maybe later, after all, bike-lust never ends.