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  1. #1
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    A road bike? for ME?

    I searched the BikeForums and found a number of threads discussing road vs hybrid bikes, but nothing that addressed my specific question.

    Background - started out with an old Schwinn MTB about 15 years ago, rode a SWB recumbent for about 5 years, switched back to the Schwinn, and when buying a lighter aluminum frame "comfort bike" for the wife a couple of years ago, I picked up one for myself. Based on several conversations I've had with some folks here and F2F I've realized that over the years I've moved in the direction of being more of an endurance rider, preferring rides in the 15-20 mile range and I've started seeking out organized tours and local group rides. We've done the 30-mile Tour De Troit several years running, did 38 miles on the Amishland & Lakes tour last summer, and I've started getting into the monthly Critical Mass rides. I'm working hard to keep myself in shape this winter with a weekly spinning and core-strength class, and hope to start hooking up this spring with a bunch of folks that do a 30-miler through downtown Detroit every Saturday morning. The distance goal this year is to do at least one metric century.

    Anyway, I've been told that I'm probably working way too hard with my current bike (a Trek Navigator), and I've voiced complaints that suggest that it probably isn't fitted properly, so I started making the rounds to some of the good LBS's in my area. The first place I visited last week right off the bat recommended that I look seriously at a road bike. This was a surprise as I figured that a hybrid was probably my only option. However the young man that I spoke to at some length believed that a good road bike (he was recommending that I try out a Specialized Secteur Sport Compact), properly sized and fitted was going to be much more comfortable and enjoyable for me than a hybrid.

    I'm all for comfort, and speed, and the sheer joy of whizzing along with a light and responsive bike, but as you can see from my history above I find myself running a lot in urban settings that may not be the ideal glass-smooth surface that I associate with road biking. Sections of bad pavement, debris, railroad tracks, curbs etc. are all things that I encounter from time-to-time, and I'm wondering if a road bike is in any way contra-indicated for these kinds of environments? Some of the reviews for the Secteur in particular report a good ability to absorb shock and vibration, so I'm thinking that there really isn't any cause for concern on this score, but would appreciate folks' thoughts on this.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Hey Steve, Hi from another Sawyer!! My wife and I just purchased replacement hybrids instead of road bikes. However, while my old hybrid was more MTB than road our new ones are more road than MTB. We ended up with Giant Escape RX 0's that after our first week and 200 miles or so... love.. except the saddle that is. Thats got to go. We ride mostly paved rail trails or roads and still have MTB's for rough stuff. Here's the link to my thread in the hybrid section. Good luck with your next purchase. I'm sure you will enjoy what ever you pick.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I can assure you that if you want to do mileage on the road then a road bike is the best bet. I hav done Century rides on MTB's as that was the only type of bike I had and the only problem I had on a long ride was speed. Comfort was there and the gearing for the hills.

    I rode MTB's for 16 years before changing over to road bikes. What a difference. I found different muscles- My back ached and the neck and shoulders were agony--for a couple of months. I know that people will keep telling you that Road bars have different hand positions so you can keep changing posture but so does an MTB with bar ends.

    When I went into the LBS to buy that first road bike- They told me to buy cheap but don't buy cr*p. Bought a Giant OCR3- A good bike with lowly components- As all that first bike was there for was to tell me what the 2nd bike was going to be. They were right and I used that OCR to learn road riding- find the faults with me that would have to be corrected and to find out what I wanted to change or modify to improve my road riding skills. They were right as a year later N+1 Came along in a bike that fitted perfect- had the right bits fitted to it and was really comfortable.

    The lecture is over with but I can assure you that if you are changing style of bike- then the LBS can help you greatly. Depends on your budget but remember that Road bikes come in several grades of quality- ridability- fit and comfort. Don't get set on one model or one manufacturer though. Get a few test rides and compare what is in the market.
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  4. #4
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Well, a comfort bike or a hybrid is just like it states, comfortable. A lightweight road bike will roll easier and go much faster with less effort provided your body can take the hunched over the handlebars position. I have a nice road bike that I cannot ride for very long distances anymore because as I got older I just plain hurt more and am not as flexible as I used to be. I am all about comfort and ease of traveling but like some speed too. So what I did was build myself a bike out of a super light weight hardtail mountain frame using all the most extreme comfort components available. Sweet ride. If your riding with fast groups though, you either have to keep up or fall behind and that takes the fun out of it most of the time. I tend to ride alone because of that. Your current setup sounds just fine provided your in the same age group with the same type of equipment.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    I can assure you that if you are changing style of bike- then the LBS can help you greatly. Depends on your budget but remember that Road bikes come in several grades of quality- ridability- fit and comfort. Don't get set on one model or one manufacturer though. Get a few test rides and compare what is in the market.
    Oh yeah - I've learned my lesson about being an uninformed buyer. The shop I visited last weekend was only the first. I have strong recommendations for four shops in Metro Detroit, so I have three more to visit. I figure that everyone will have a slightly different take on things, and I'll feel more comfortable with my decision the more viewpoints I get.

    I'm in no particular hurry either, as I have to sell the recumbent before I have the cash to put into the new bike!!

  6. #6
    Man of constant sorrow Dudelsack's Avatar
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    The Secteur is a fine bike. Blues Dawg sells the darn things, so maybe he'll sound off.

    Somewhat larger tires like 700X25 or 700X28 help a lot.

    You can always put rugged tires on a road bike if you value dependability over performance.

    Just make sure you get a good fitting.
    Possunt quia posse videntur. St. Dudel: Epic is stupid that you get away with.

  7. #7
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    "Some" road bikes are limited in maximum tire size. The chain stays are too close together. I avoid hopping curbs on a road bike, but it's OK on railroad tracks and rough roads.

    You should test ride some road bikes. I was really surprised 6 years ago when I rode one. It was extremely comfortable, nothing at all like the cheaper 1970s road bikes I rode in college.

    And take a look at a cross bike (cyclocross bike--originally for racing on grass). It has the dropped handlebars, but can handle larger tire sizes,and has room for fenders. Many have fittings for a rear rack, too.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 01-14-13 at 03:21 PM.

  8. #8
    blt
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    I'm a 53 year old who likes to ride in the 20-50 mile range, usually with some decent elevation gain and loss, on the types of surfaces you express concern about. Having ridden only road bikes, I inherited a hybrid 3 years ago that was the right size for me, spent a little money to get properly fitted, and I find that even properly fitted, I am too tired and uncomfortable after 15 miles or so in comparison to the road bike, even a road bike that didn't quite fit right and I wanted to replace. I agree that you may find riding more comfortable and enjoyable on a "road" bike.

    Be careful as you look, however, in limiting yourself to what the LBS may think of as a pure road bike. Many think of bikes that are suitable for light touring or randonneuring to be in a different classification than "road," even though they have drop handlebars and won't be ridden on anything but pavement, and they may be a huge improvement in comfort and enjoyment over the hybrid yet be better for you and a "pure" road bike. Someone else in this thread suggested a cross bike. And even the manufactureres don't always know how to classify them. To find what is just right for you, you may want to go outside the biggest brands.

    For the type of riding I do, which outside of nasty climbing may not be too unlike what you do, I want 3 things. One, tires the right width (which for me is 25-28mm), two, a geometry that is relaxed but not too relaxed, and three, a steel frame for a smooth ride (or in the alternative, a frame that will truly give a "steel-like" ride - from my test ride the Secteur isn't bad for an aluminum bike, but there is still too much shock and vibration for my taste compared to a good steel bike). I looked around a lot a year ago and ended up getting a steel frame Salsa Casseroll in the standard build except with 28mm tires instead of 32mm and a 11-34 cassette instead of the 11-28, to deal with some of the really nasty climbs I have. I love it, I get a glass smooth ride even without ideal glass-smooth surfaces. Sadly, Salsa no longer makes that, and the "replacement" Colossal is more aggressive than I like, designed more as a "true" road bike, and double the price. But one reason I chose the Casseroll may not apply to you in any event. I liked the a triple crank with a 26t small ring, which otherwise was available standard only on "true" touring bikes.

    Other bikes I was very interested in included the Jamis steel frame/carbon fork bikes, a Surly (the Surly Pacer is what interested me most), and the REI brand (Novara) bike, especially the Verita. REI's website will itself show you the confusion that bike companies have in classifying bikes. They have different classifications for "road" and "touring," yet the Verita listed under touring says its best use is for "road cycling." The other 2 Novara models listed under "touring" have as their best use "bike commuting and touring." If you find a Novara bike you like, you can often get pretty good deals, when REI has a sale where "everything" is on sale, it doesn't include bikes except for Novara brand, and combined with the REI dividend, the price can be pretty good.

    If money had been no object, I actually think my first choice may well have been a Gunnar Sport built with touring gearing, but money was an object for me. I know I ran across at least 2 or 3 other good choices, but without retracing my old research trails or calling the LBS's I went to, I can't remember them.

    You may find you are perfectly happy with big brand relaxed geometry bike, like a Specialized Secteur (although you probably want at least 25mm tires), but I would seriously suggest looking around at bikes that are not classified as pure road, and not limit your options to the big brands. One problem with some of these smaller brands is finding models available to test ride, and I was not able to ride everything that attracted me, but if you are really interested, many dealers will find creative ways to let you test out something (one shop got one of the regulars at the shop ride to let me try his bike out, the owner of the LBS I bought from let me ride his Salsa Casseroll).

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sawyer View Post
    I find myself running a lot in urban settings that may not be the ideal glass-smooth surface that I associate with road biking. Sections of bad pavement, debris, railroad tracks, curbs etc. are all things that I encounter from time-to-time, and I'm wondering if a road bike is in any way contra-indicated for these kinds of environments?
    Not in my experience.

    I live in the city, and I work in the city. (Hell, I work in da 'hood.) Most of my cycling is in the city. I commute by bike daily. I haven't missed a workday of bike commuting since July 2006. And yes, I live on a Great Lake and that includes lake-effect.

    All I own are road bikes.

    Modern road bikes, sensibly equipped, are not the frail little flowers many folks make them out to be.

    Mainly it's wheels that need to be sensible and take your weight into account. Yes, I once bent a rim. I was drafting an SUV at over 35MPH and hit a pothole. The pothole had a little collection of hubcaps nearby too. Was the bent rim the bike's fault? I'd argue it wasn't.

    (Now that I think about it, there was another time I bent a rim. That was when I was t-boned by a Pontiac. Again, not the bike's fault.)

    Debris you handle by riding around what you can, and using puncture-resistant tires.

    Bad pavement, railroad tracks and whatnot are best handled by using your knees and elbows as suspension. When encountering bad pavement, lift your butt out of the saddle and let the bumps lift the bike up to you. You do this by keeping loose and relaxed. If the bump is pushing up only the bike, there's no problem. When the bump is pushing up the bike and then the bike has to push you up, yeah, it's rough on the bike (and your back). Using this technique, I don't even slow down for speed bumps. Six inches of butt clearance for a four inch speed bump, leaves me room to spare at 25 MPH.

    Curbs? Why are you riding on the sidewalk? Once in the past 30,000 miles I had to jump a curb as an emergency maneuver. I bunny hopped it, same as you would a pothole. When I use sidewalks on the way to parking, I use the wheelchair ramp at the corner. If I'm mid-block, I stop and lift the bike. There's no reason to abuse any bike--road, MTB or BMX--by crashing over curbs. Although when leaving parking, I do ride off curbs--sensibly.

    I started out on a hybrid. (And yes, I once rode a 72 mile ride on it. It can be dons. But it was sheer torture.) One of the reasons I started on a hybrid is that it seemed more rugged. Hogwash. All it was, was heavy and ponderous. I had more wheel trouble with the hybrid than I have with all my road bikes combined--including the aforementioned bent rims.

    So don't worry about riding a roadie in the city.
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  10. #10
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sawyer View Post
    I have to sell the recumbent before I have the cash to put into the new bike!!
    You do understand, of course, that you've just committed heresy.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  11. #11
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    you might want to look at " century" road bikes, cannondale synapse, giant defy, specialized roubaix.
    they have a higher steer tube for a more upright ride than a traditional road bike.
    i have been riding a 08 roubaix elite for the last 2 years and LOVE it. i am in the process of upgrading to a used 2012 roubaix, i just have to finish assembling it. my 08 takes 25 tire to smooth out the ride some compared to a 23. looking at the 2012 it looks like i might even be able to use a 28 tire on it for a softer ride yet.

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    You do understand, of course, that you've just committed heresy.
    I wasn't going to say that. I was going to ask what kind and how much. Maybe nothing I'd want, but ya never know...

    I had to laugh about the advice for a compact crank. There are no hills in the Detroit area, unless you count riding up and down parking ramps. I once did the Wolverine 200 on Belle Isle, which had something like 1 foot per mile of elevation change.

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    When I started riding again about 18 months ago, I began on a hybrid. Within a month I bought a road bike. I don't think I'd have stuck with it if I hadn't. I didn't really start to enjoy it until I got on a road bike. Maybe it was ancient muscle memory from riding a road bike as a kid, but I found it orders of magnitude more comfortable than a hybrid. I'm sure it's a very individual thing, but I wouldn't approach the transition with the idea that a road bike is going to be less comfortable. Some folks may find that to be true, but for me it was exactly the opposite. And I doubt I'm the only person on the road who feels that way.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I had to laugh about the advice for a compact crank. There are no hills in the Detroit area, unless you count riding up and down parking ramps. I once did the Wolverine 200 on Belle Isle, which had something like 1 foot per mile of elevation change.
    Maybe, but if you ever venture out of the metro area thing could be different.

    We did a 900 mile loop around the Lower Peninsula last summer with a total elevation gain of 30,000 feet. No big hills, but a lot of little rollers. We were on loaded touring bikes, and I did use my low gears at times. North of Rose City the topography got a lot more interesting.

    I don't know about the OP, but I've always ridden road bikes (the last 50 years). I didn't like my X-mountain bikes because of their upright riding position. It puts too much weight on the bottom.

  15. #15
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    Road bikes can handle rough roads. I have over 30,000 mies on a Gunnar on all types of crap roads and even a little dirt, and I'm over 200#. I did the same type of riding on a CAAD 5 Cannondale but the ride was harsh compared to the Gunnar. I also have a Seven and it doesn't get any special treatment.

    I always use 23 tires, I'm 58 and have old back injuries. A road bike is the only way to travel roads for me. Can't stand flat bars for very long.

  16. #16
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    navigators are fine for what they are, a casual cruise , want zippier performance ,

    then thinner and higher pressure tires are the way to go,.. how much thinner ?
    Cross Hybrids are in the 35mm range , road bikes are 28 and smaller ..

    there are both the drop bar and straight bar sub categorys with both sorts.

    Flexibility is a key. can out put the palms of your hands on the floor, standing. ?

    Trek Dual Sport , just because you have a Trek,
    As a Hybrid, combines straight bars, and 35 wide 700c wheels, at various price points
    depending on the Spec list./.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-15-13 at 12:18 PM.

  17. #17
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    Thanks all - and Doug is right. Some of the suburban parks have a LOT of nice rollers.

    My take-away here is:

    Try before you buy
    Don't get hung up on names (either brand or "type")
    Select the shop carefully - make sure I'm going to get a great fit
    Fit is critical
    Look for "roadie" comfort and efficiency
    Get a bike I really want to get on...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sawyer View Post
    Thanks all - and Doug is right. Some of the suburban parks have a LOT of nice rollers.

    My take-away here is:

    Try before you buy
    Don't get hung up on names (either brand or "type")
    Select the shop carefully - make sure I'm going to get a great fit
    Fit is critical
    Look for "roadie" comfort and efficiency
    Get a bike I really want to get on...
    Darn, all the good advice has already been given.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  19. #19
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sawyer View Post
    Thanks all - and Doug is right. Some of the suburban parks have a LOT of nice rollers.

    My take-away here is:

    Try before you buy
    Don't get hung up on names (either brand or "type")
    Select the shop carefully - make sure I'm going to get a great fit
    Fit is critical
    Look for "roadie" comfort and efficiency
    Get a bike I really want to get on...
    Now just find the LBS.

    There are differences in the way some bikes feel and if you look at the "Popular Starter" bikes for new road riders they are all the same except colour and name. Test ride is the only way to ensure fit-feel and suitability of a bike for you. The LBS is going to be stressed as your main pointer in getting a bike that fits these criteria but it is the test ride that will find the right bike. Don't know your price point but can tell you right now to set that point----Then add a few hundred $'s to it. It's your last point of getting a bike you really want that makes me say this. Within a particular model there will be a few different grades of that bike and by going up one grade you will get a few better items such as wheels- groupset set and components that will make you wish you had got a better model a few months down the line.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  20. #20
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    navigators are fine for whatthey are a casual cruise , want zippier performance ,

    then thinner and higher pressure tires are the way to go, how much thinner ?
    Cross Hybrids are in the 35mm range , road bikes are 28 and smaller ..

    there are both the drop bar and straight bar sub categorys with both sorts.

    Flexibility is a key. can out put the pllms of your hands on the floor standing. ?
    I'd have to agree with this. If your not flexible enough, you will be miserable on a road bike. I know I am because my neck will not bend up and my arms and shoulders have to hold alot more of my upper body weight, and I cannot go for long. A flat bar like suggested here could be a very good alternative though, along with replacing the saddle for more support in the upright position. Most of the advice here is based on personal experience but it won't work for everyone. You need to determine where your level of comfort is. For example, I am in very good physical condition and considered pretty strong but I have no flexibility at all and cannot get loose by stretching. If your fortunate enough to have good physique, you will enjoy the road bike better because it's lighter, faster and more agile.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    About that flexibility that you may not have when you change over to road bikes. It comes. When I got the OCR I had a problem getting down into the drops so I practised. Flat section on the road and I would go down for about 20 seconds at a time (Which initially was all I could manage) until after a couple of months there was no pain in getting into the drops.Did a couple of things like lengthening the reach and raising the bars but that bike was never really comfortable.

    garlic.jpg Note bars level with the saddle

    Then the second bike a year later and I was flexible enough to ride this with the bars 4" below the saddle and a longer reach

    Sideview.jpg

    For some of us that long low position works which may seem contrary to what you would expect.

    Which is another pointer to the fact that N+1 is a near certainty after a year or so.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  22. #22
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    About that flexibility that you may not have when you change over to road bikes. It comes. When I got the OCR I had a problem getting down into the drops so I practised. Flat section on the road and I would go down for about 20 seconds at a time (Which initially was all I could manage) until after a couple of months there was no pain in getting into the drops.Did a couple of things like lengthening the reach and raising the bars but that bike was never really comfortable.

    garlic.jpg Note bars level with the saddle

    Then the second bike a year later and I was flexible enough to ride this with the bars 4" below the saddle and a longer reach

    Sideview.jpg

    For some of us that long low position works which may seem contrary to what you would expect.

    Which is another pointer to the fact that N+1 is a near certainty after a year or so.
    I've tried and I hurt so much I had to quit. Then I said to myself, I can't let this beat me as I love to ride too much. So, I will build my own bike. It was progressive process but I got it. What is N+1?
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  23. #23
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    N is the number of bikes you have and the +1 is the one you Need/Want

    So N+1 is the new bike you have to add to your stable.

    Problem is that it can become addictive.

    Cshed.jpg

    And another two have been added since this pic was taken.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  24. #24
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    I have to go with Stapfam on this. My flat bar was no higher than many "plush or relaxed" road bikes. My Jamis was more relaxed. My first Lapierre was built from frame up but it was almost too agressive for me. About a year and a half later I built a Carbon Fiber Lapierre Sensium 400. More relaxed and a better century bike, for me at the time. Two years after than a car took out my Lapierre and I had to rebuild again. But by then a more agressive bike was once again in the cards. I now ride a Tarmac and use it for all my century rides. I have switched to 25mm tires but other than that it works just like from the factory. That being said we do have riders that ride bikes like the Roubaix simply because it is more upright and laid back. If you get a road bike that fits you will go a long way towards being comfortable with drop bars. We could explain that if you are supporting too much weight on your wrists and arms you are set up wrong but that can only be learned because it is hard to believe.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  25. #25
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    N is the number of bikes you have and the +1 is the one you Need/Want

    So N+1 is the new bike you have to add to your stable.

    Problem is that it can become addictive.

    Cshed.jpg

    And another two have been added since this pic was taken.
    Oh, cool, then it's N+2 for me. LOL. Don't want to steal the OP's thread here but thanks, I will bug out now.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

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