Breaking the N+1 Spell: The Case for a Single N=1 Bike

Reflecting on the N+1 concept that resonates deeply among cyclists, where the ideal number of bikes one should own is always one more than they currently have, it prompts me to consider the array of bike enthusiasts, especially those with the means, proudly enumerate.

They mention aero, climbing, cyclocross, endurance, touring, winter and gravel bikes, each meticulously selected for its specific discipline within the drop bar style of cycling. This world is where I immerse myself, yet I consciously avoid anything related to mountain biking (MTB), humorously redefining the acronym as “must trash bones” in my own vocabulary.

Given this context, the N+1 formula cheekily (or seriously!)  suggests that the perfect number of bicycles to own is always one more than you currently possess. This playful principle captures the ever-present yearning for a new bike that might fill a niche, offer a new experience or simply add to a collection.

However, despite the allure of N+1, I sometimes find myself questioning the necessity of owning multiple bikes. Despite having a collection of my own, the truth is, I don’t actually need them because of the sheer versatility of my OPEN U.P.E.R. makes it redundant. This bike is a jack-of-all-trades, serving as my climbing, endurance, randonnée, gravel, touring and commuting bike.

The ability to customise it for each category with specific Zipp wheel and René Herse tire combinations—from 700×32 (slick tires) for climbing to 650Bx55 (treaded tires) for extreme gravel—highlights its adaptability. Currently, the 650Bx48 setup is my preference (slicks), as it allows me to focus on endurance and dry gravel which are the majority of riding that I do.

I’m not claiming that the OPEN is the best in every sub-category. However, its ability to consistently rank in the top 10 across various disciplines confirms its status as a master of many trades. This underscores a crucial point for those who, like me, travel a lot, live in tight spaces, lean towards minimalism or are in situations where one highly versatile bike is essential.

If you enjoy the diverse disciplines of drop bar cycling, opting for one exceptional, adaptable bike is a smart choice.

This belief isn’t unfounded; it’s based on my wide-ranging firsthand experiences. My bike has accompanied me to the Arctic Circle, ventured through the Maasai Mara in Kenya with Savanna Cycling, encircled the USA and traversed continents from Canada to Europe. It has scaled Ventoux three times in a single outing, braved Canadian snowstorms, and doubled as my dependable grocery-getter, securely fastened with LiteLok locks.

These aren’t mere stories; they’re chapters of my life, showcasing the unparalleled versatility and durability of my chosen two-wheeled companion.

Moreover, my bike is always an incredible conversation starter, which amusingly could qualify it as a business expense. After all, networking is an essential marketing strategy!

Imagine sitting by a café in Richmond Park, drawing the curiosity of fellow cyclists who can’t resist inquiring about your ride. It’s an opportunity not just to share your adventures but to potentially promote your business or introduce you to new people.

And for those contemplating how their significant other might react to their cycling indulgence, consider this: revealing that you’ve essentially acquired five bikes in one should elicit applause for your efficiency rather than dismay. However, it might still be prudent to keep the receipt hidden!

Just to be clear, I am not saying that one should only own one bicycle that does a lot of things well versus owning a fleet that consists of specialised tools. I am stating that an extremely well-thought versatile one can work in cases where only one is only at one’s disposal.

I wish I could travel the world with all my five bikes including the extreme gravel OPEN WI.DE. however until millionaire status the mighty OPEN U.P.P.E.R. will be the perfect N=1.