Bike Gear Obsession

My wife already knows and has hopefully learned to live with my obsessive personality.  My wife likes to cook with fresh herbs, so last year for my wife’s birthday I decided to buy her an herb garden.  A mere mortal may have settled on a few potted plants, but not I. Over a period of months I experimented and cultivated an entire garden on our balcony, with 9 different herbs and 3 vegetables, learning through repeated trial and error what will or won’t grow on a windy (but South-facing) balcony in NYC.

Likewise, for a while now we have been looking into buying a place.  When I consider buying a property, I don’t just look at that property, but I read up on every new development in the neighborhood for the past 10 years, including some that haven’t even been built yet, and I become a regular visitor to various real estate sites, not just Zillow and Trulia, but also Curbed and StreetEasy.

So naturally, when it comes to bike commuting, I’ve become somewhat of a fanatic. I’ve read tips and articles on bike commuting, subscribed to magazines, joined advocacy organizations, and, of course, started this blog.  Another big part of my fanaticism is my obsession with tweaking and upgrading my bike.  [Below I’ve included links to the products I chose.]

It all started with a few utilitarian upgrades to add components to my bike making it more commuter-friendly.  I was tired of getting muddy after it rains. Solution: add fenders.  Also, after a few rainy rides, my chain started squeaking, so I cleaned it and lubed it.  Then, of course, I got a flat tire, so I bought tubes (definitely go with the Michelin brand, the others are all crap), tire levers, and a hand pump for re-inflating on the road.  After a while of riding, it became winter, and in the winter it gets dark early, so I needed bike lights.  Lastly I got tons of bike locks because, let’s face it, NYC is rough, and I don’t want another bike to get stolen, especially a bike I’ve spent so much time customizing.

After a lot of use, evidently there are some bicycle parts that need replacing, and, for me, replacing often means upgrading.  I bought new kook-stop brake pads, which reviews claim are far better than OEM.  I replaced my bar tape and added handlebar gel to help with my numb hands, but it actually doesn’t seem to have helped (and damn, installing bar tape right is harder than it looks).  My favorite necessary upgrade, though, has been conti gatorskin tires.  They definitely roll faster and in over a month or riding I haven’t gotten a single flat!  They are a bit more slippery in the rain, though.

Then, of course, there are upgrades and add-ons purchased purely for fun.  The first of these, practically a must in my book, is an iPhone mount and headphones.  I experimented a bit with various different iPhone apps for cycling, and, despite the broader cycling community’s obsession with Strava, my favorite is MapMyRide.  I won’t bore you with all the details but, for a quant, the data it tracks and offers online through the website is unmatched.  In fact, I was so enthralled by the possibilities of the data that I decided to collect even more data using a heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor.  So far I’ve collected plenty of additional data, but I haven’t used much of it other than in real-time.

Finally, we have the myriad cycling apparel I got just because I felt like it.  As mentioned in an earlier post, a certain amount of cycling clothing is worth the cost for a frequent cyclist, but there’s no doubt I’ve bought more than is strictly necessary.  Nevertheless, I must say that the latest high tech jersey really does feel lighter and cooler and wicks moisture away faster than a cheap old cotton t-shirt.

In short, I’ve bought a lot of stuff for my bike.  The good news is most of the stuff is still cheaper than just one trip to the mechanic for a car issue.  But as it arrives bit-by-bit in small packages, it just seems like a ton.  Nowadays, when a package comes, my wife doesn’t say “you have a package” any more.  Instead, she just says “you have bike stuff,” even when it isn’t.  Man, let’s just say I’ve been making very good use of my Amazon Prime membership.


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