I only got into bikes last year...sure before that i HAD a bike, but i hadn't gotten 'into' bikes. I hadn't looked at bikes the same way I do now. Last summer I dragged my bike out of the barn and started using it regularly. 'MY' bike 'Daisy' is a '69 Armstrong 3-speed, and if i wanted to keep using it, I needed to learn how to tune it and keep it in good repair myself. It was too expensive to pay someone else to do it.
Personally, I think a 3-speed is a good bike to learn your ass from a hot rock, you can just about dope it out alone. If something is too tight loosen it, if something is too loose tighten it, keep fiddling with it until you find the perfect balance for THAT bike. The Sturmey Archer internal hub is a masterpiece of design, unless there is something blatantly wrong with it, you may never need to open it. All it demands is a little oil now and then.
Last year I acquired about 2 dozen bikes, a lotta Schwinns, a few named Raleighs and quite a number of 'other' bikes - all sorts, whatever was cheap and plentiful. I tried to learn what was junk and what was worth my time, I am STILL learning. I also found i had and have no interest in racing or mt bikes, and that I will never learn everything there is to know about bikes. I decided to narrow my focus and get really good at what interested me.
I decided that my ideal bike is the English Road bike, preferably with a Sturmey Archer hub. When I look at one, I SEE a bike, when I look at anything else I only see a variation on it. A Raleigh made bike will catch my eye from a mile away or in the background of an image. I can even pick one out from a pile of other bikes, and not even notice what else is in the pile. I can patiently remove rust, happily humming away for hours, whereas I get seriously impatient after only a few minutes with any other bike.
I still pick up the odd Schwinn and perhaps a couple of other reasonable road or commuter bikes, but that's just for money. I don't tackle those bikes with anything near the joy I feel scraping the rust off a Raleigh 3-speed. I can easily put many more hours of labor into one of these than what it is worth to resell it. When I am done I can rock back on my heels and can be so happy with how it turned out, that I just like looking at it.
I think I'm gonna stick with my bike of choice.
Anyone else have an 'ideal' bike?