Scientists say that according to the laws of physics the ideal number of bicycles to have is “n + 1,” where n = the number of bikes currently owned. I disagree. The proper number of bikes is “n – u,” where n = the number of bikes currently owned, and u = the number that are unused.

There are lots of reasons to use the “n – u” formula. First is the Law of One. This law states that unless you belong to the German Women’s Bicycle Gymnastics team, you can only ride one bike at a time. No matter how many bikes you have hanging from the ceiling, you can only ride one of them. So contrary to popular belief, having more bikes will not increase your ratio of fun per ride.

Second, multiple bicycle ownership of the same type of bicycle invariably creates what is known as a mutual parting reaction. The MPA occurs when broken parts on one bike are replaced with functioning parts on the unbroken bike, eventually resulting in two bicycles, neither of which works. It is the existence of the non-functioning bicycle duality that often leads to a purchase of the third bicycle, typically around the same time that a new product roll-out or planned obsolescence occurs, cf. “29-er,” “electronic shifting,” or “disc brakes for road bikes.”

Many cyclists, understanding the multiple parting reaction, refuse to buy more than one road bike because of the ancillary spousal reduction effect. This effect manifests itself when a two-party marriage or relationship reduces itself by half due to the purchase of multiple same-type bicycles, most often when the per unit cost exceeds $5,000, not including carbon wheels or pedals.

In order to avoid the MPA and spousal reduction effect, cyclists often attempt to double (triple/quadruple) their fun by purchasing additional bikes for use in a different discipline. Although few MTB riders are stupid enough to branch off into road riding, many road riders will attempt to become mountain bikers, violating the reflex time principle. In brief, this principle states that no person over the age of forty can develop reflexes quickly enough to avoid crushing his skull/bones/internal organs against a tree or rock, or to avoid plunging over a steep cliff.

However, even for the roadies who do not immediately violate the reflex time principle, another important factor comes into play with the acquisition of a new MTB. This is known in scientific circles as the time investment quandary and its corollary, the law of diminishing returns. The TIQ is a principle that states that the more time a roadie invests in MTB, the crappier he will become as a roadie. The law of diminishing returns states that as the roadie becomes a worse roadie due to time spent on the MTB, he will soon reach a point where he achieves modest mediocrity on the MTB (‘cross bike, track bike, TT bike) no matter how much time he spends riding it. Before long the time investment reflex will kick in and he will fracture a spine or a face, bringing the whole thing to a bloody conclusion and a bargain sale on eBay.

Although experienced cyclists sometimes become satisfied with mediocrity in various disciplines, following the n + 1 formula eventually results in the phenomenon of bicycle furniture polarity. In essence, this polarity results from limited physical space for beds, couches, bookshelves, and other utilitarian furnishings due to the concentration of bicycles, all of which are too expensive to put in the garage or on the porch.

As a result, the bicycle molecules force out the furniture molecules, causing the bicycle molecules to rearrange themselves as the main furnishings of the living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or crack lab. This polarity is generally considered unsightly, as only a tiny fraction of interior designers, a fraction which cannot be measured with existing instrumentation, considers a 50th Anniversary Campagnolo DeRosa frame to be an attractive wall hanging.

Unlike the n+ 1 formula, the n – u formula reduces the universe of bicycle molecules to those that are actually ridden, triggering the fitness feedback loop, the credit card equilibrium phase, and the marital detente syndrome.

In other words, my 2012 Giant TCX ‘cross bike with SRAM Red, eggbeater pedals, and dicksaver saddle is for sale. Sale proceeds will activate the carbon wheel purchase reimbursement mechanism, which should need no explanation.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and learn about bicycle science. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

28 thoughts on “De-biking”

  1. Sorry Seth, but I still subscribe to the N+1 theory of bicycle evolution. There are science deniers out there to be sure, but they fail to appreciate the beauty of barely being able to get into the third bedroom due to the number of bikes clogging the space. And I am adding a gravel bike for 2015. Happy New Year Seth. I wish you the best year of your life with each succeeding to be better than the last.

  2. Your science seems pretty accurate to me. I have experienced a minor spousal reduction episode over the MTB furniture addition to the guest bedroom, and am expecting a significant spousal reduction event when next month’s credit card bill gets reconciled.

    1. I like the way you subliminally added crack lab. Perhaps you can start up a de-biking 12 step with proceeds going to CA.

  3. But Seth, Dear Soul, Cross is the only form of bike racing presently recognized here in Hooterville, with gravel being the next closet thing. Alas, I am the only one on the thousands of miles of car less roads-pick up trucks with lots of gun warnings being the only vehicles permitted off the Interstate.

  4. Not to embarrass you in public, but you failed to consider the obvious:

    ((n + 1)(u-1))^-10/en=arcsin(n^-100)*arctan(u^99)+1

    …which as anyone can see, sheds a whole light on the issue.

    1. I wouldn’t say I failed to consider it. I would say that I failed to progress past word problems in Third Grade.

  5. 1 bike. That’s all cyclist needs and you have to beat the shit out of it as well. Also when purchasing a new bike it’s recommended to put a nice scratch along the frame to avoid any babying of your bicycle. Unless your the style rider that pedals from coffee shop to coffee shop posting pictures of your bicycle on the inter-webs by all means do not follow this advice.

  6. Pingback: HBP #16 – Be Excellent To Each Other

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: