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Why Buying Too Many Bikes Will Not Make Us Happier

By Adam Marsal

Engineers and designers developed various bicycles to let us enjoy different kinds of environments. The ownership of too many bikes, however, does not make us happier. We might recall the beautiful days when we were young, having a great time enjoying the bike our parents gave us for good grades. Every afternoon after class, we got on the bike and joined our friends from the neighbourhood. The simplicity of choices made cycling into a pure joy that we warmly shared with others. 

Today, on the contrary, bicycle producers try to persuade us into believing that hoarding many bikes in a garage gives us the perfect opportunity to pick the right one any time we need a bike that perfectly matches our intentions. This way, we are supposed to be ready to tackle downhill tracks with a DH machine offering enough suspension as well as pursuing speed maniacs on our hi-end carbon-fibre ultralight jet.

Bike shop
How many bikes should you own? © Profimedia

Moreover, we can add an all-mountain bike for having fun on trails, a jumping bike for the dirt park, a commuting bike to get to work, and a secretly desired gravel bike for any other terrain. Stockpiling bicycles might lead us to accumulate an impressive bike collection. This way, we can choose the right bike for any thinkable occasion but the mental process of considering the pros and cons of each bike doesn’t make us happier.

Among scholars, the phenomenon is known as an ‘overchoice’ or choice overload. The term was first introduced by American writer, futurist and businessman Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, Future Shock. Toffler described that if too many choices are available, making decisions is mentally exhausting because each option must be weighed against alternatives. As the number of choices grows, people feel under increased pressure, confusion and eventually dissatisfaction with the choice they made.

In cycling, the problem is that we need a lot of time to consider which bike would match the intended road, trail or surface. Having too many bikes make us revise the choice any time we meet either a too technical segment of a trail or too smooth asphalt of the road. Any moment of the ride, we are tempted to regret our decisions.

Different trails and terrains often make us question our bike choices. © Profimedia

And that is not the end at all. Each bike requires a slightly different dress code, equipment, shoes or a helmet type. While loose shorts are the correct choice for MTB all-mountain ride, they would feel uncomfortable for road cycling, where spandex is preferable. More cycling challenges mean more cycling wear that you need to have washed and prepared anytime someone calls you to go out.

The limited time we can spend on a bike is another significant factor. Joining a road cycling club for a Saturday morning ride excludes us automatically from spending a good time with freeriding freaks in the bike park. Taking advantage of one opportunity means we’re missing something else at the same time. This is why our MTB friends might get upset if we excuse ourselves from riding with them because of an appointment with roadies. As the old public wisdom says: doing one thing properly is still better than doing many things wrong.

There’s nothing like multitasking in cycling. Becoming a member of too many cycling groups may result in loneliness and isolation as even cyclists with advanced time-management skills may find themselves left alone in a packed garage for the rest of their indecisive lives.