I Got The New Bike Itch

I got the ITCH, and it’s bad. It’s getting to maddening levels. We all get that itch and most of the time I can handle it and set it aside. When it gets real bad I throw myself and the bike a bone and get a new part or swap out all the cables and housing and feel better. However, lately that new bike itch has been brutal, and I don’t know if I can weather the storm.

It’s the end of the riding season, or at least for those countries where it gets cold and snowy. Here, it’s just the right riding season. Cool weather has come about and the rains have stopped, so prime riding time. However, market still dictates that all the 2017 stock must start to go and be discounted and there are some great deals to be had. Can I really weather those deals and the itch for that new bike day? Can I really get on by with my current 3.5 year old setup?

Completely New Bike

Pros: New bike, duh! New bike day is still the best day any one can have. Nothing can compare to dropping into that first descent with your brand new bike and getting to know each other. Yeah, I know I’m romanticizing it a bit, but it’s a nice experience. Other plusses are: up to date geometry and standards, better compatibility for future stuff.

Cons: Debt, spending lots of money. Spending even more on components that will eventually be swapped out, increasing debt. Stress of paying the credit card bill. Working extra to pay it off and riding less.

Keep The Old Bike

Pros: No debt, just take the fork and shock out for service and do a full rebuild at home. Bike should run like new for a good while. After all, aluminum frames are built to last. A true and tested frame and a bike I know well and know every little trick and kink. I can focus more on improving my riding over getting to know my new bike.

Cons: Parts become scarcer as standards and models change. Geometry and can become outdated especially as we move towards lower, slacker and longer bikes. It’s not like it’s a ticking time bomb all of a sudden with outdated geo, but trails also morph and change as the bikes around them change.

Rider and bike in the middle of a trail overlooking Guadalajara
She’s 3.5 years old, but still rides awesome. Can small updates beat my itch for a new bike?

New Frame, Old Components

Pros: New frame, updated geometry and suspension kinematics, a good frame is the most important part of a new bike. Up to date on new standards like metric and boost. You get the new bike feeling without incurring all of the associated debt. Most components are compatible and are already setup to one’s liking. Biggest plus, building it up yourself, if you’ve never done that it’s as enjoyable as that first ride.

Cons: Debt is still debt, the frame is one of the most expensive parts of a mountain bike; along with shock and fork. New standards means at the very least, new hubs or boost adapter kits. It also means a new dropper post as frames have moved from 30.9 to 31.6 or a shim and a prayer so that i doesn’t move.

Old Frame, New Components

Pros: Scouring the internet one can find decent fork, shock and brake upgrades without spending a lot. A firmer longer travel fork, dual canister shock or dual piston brakes can dramatically change a bike, giving it an almost new bike feeling. It’s still a lot less than a new bike or a new frame, and there’s the fun and pleasure of wrenching new stuff onto a bike.

Cons: You’re still spending and acquiring debt, albeit a much smaller and manageable. Used components need to be checked as previous owners may not have been the kindest riders. New stuff may not be fully compatible and you still have your “old bike” so the itch will come back again soon, even after spending.

I’ve already done #4, with a brake update and moving from 2×10 to 1×11. Incremental changes are good and they are debt that can be managed and I can justify said purchases (at least to myself). Still, there’s always that new bike joy that comes around. So, well see how I weather the storm of end of season sales, thanksgiving sales, christmas sales and new year old inventory blow out sales. Wish me luck! And I likewise wish you luck and wisdom!