Among us bike nerds/collectors/obsessives there is a funny formula that succinctly expresses our never sated pursuit of the optimal number of bikes to own: N + 1 (N = Number of Bikes Currently Owned)
I (Joel) was recently down to a scant 5 bikes after having sold my 1960 Atala track bike that I had built as a safe (see front brake) and dandy upright fixed gear city bike. A really neat bike that I just wasn’t riding and was terrified to lock on the street; a wicked negative feedback loop!
Nevertheless, I saw the need to have a lighter weight bike for East Bay Bart trips. My main city bike (a Surly Cross Check retrofitted with a 1969 Sturmey Archer AW 3-Speed Hub and equipped with Velo Orange Porteur Rack fenders, and generator lights) can be a bit a bear to lug up and down stairs and maneuver on semi-crowded trains.
Enter the All City Nature Boy single speed cross bike:
Over the years I had accumulated a lot of parts that I was able to utilize on this bike. Mainly, I had to buy the frame/fork and build new wheels on a rear Surly hub given to me by my co-worker (thanks Todd) and a nice sealed bearing front hub made by Specialized about 20 years ago (not sure who to thank here).
The complete build is very lightweight compared to my Surly so it is easy to haul up and down stairs and it is nice to not have to worry about smashing a rear derailleur when Barting or parking on the street.
As pictured, the bike is a fun ride on off-road romps. I’m in the process of sorting out optimal gearing and handlebar/cockpit position/set-up. I may use it for some cross racing in the fall and will definitely use it for city riding with some 35mm slick tires and non-clipless (clip?) pedals.
All City bikes share the same parent company as Surly bikes but have some very interesting aesthetic flourishes like paneled paint jobs…
and this awesome dual-plate lugged fork crown.
Although I can’t ultimately solve the problem of N+1 I do believe no serious city/utilitarian cyclist can have just 1 bike. A serious rider needs to have a primary transport bike (city bike or touring bike???) plus a secondary/back-up/guest/rain/booze missile bike (single-speed/road racing/British 3-speed/touring bike???) for those times when one’s primary bike is is need of service or other call of duty. For now, just wait until I get my new mountain bike…