Please Tarck, I implore you, help me make all my bike decisions

Making a thread for this because I don’t want to clutter half a dozen threads with the same questions. Here’s my situation:

After a few iffy bohemian years, I finally had some career upswings and all I wanna do as a result is burn piles of money optimizing my bike collection. I currently have four bikes, but they don’t quite fit the riding I do, or would like to do. I’d like to get rid of three of them, and replace them with one general purpose around town bike, and one wide tired bikepacking bike, which I need for an upcoming trip planned for this summer. I have never bought a new bike, or spent more than $400 on a bike, but I think now’s the time.

Current bikes:

  • Too small Alien track bike I’ll never ride again (will sell ($500?))
  • Dream Merckx that’s too small (listed on CL/friend might buy ($1500?)
  • Early model GT Grade that doesn’t fit tires wider than 38 (daily rider, but will sell ($500?))
  • Cannondale 90s touring bike (will never sell)

The Cannondale is my only dialed in, fit for purpose bike, but I don’t get to tour as much as I’d like, because I have to sit on the computer all day.

Bike 1:
The vast majority of my riding is shorter rides in Manhattan. I imagine this as something with sportier geo, relatively upright position, narrower drops, brifters, 32 or 35mm tires, and some means of carrying optical equipment for birdwatching. I work from home, so I don’t need to lock it up for extended periods of time, just here and there. I don’t have a great vision of what this should be, but some contenders are a Night Moves, or this Co-Motion that everyone seemed to hate in the “should I buy this” thread. (Would do 650b conversion on this one). The absolute dream bike in this category would be a Yamaguchi rando bike like this one I saw on the street recently, but the website is down so I haven’t inquired about that. This bike is lower urgency and more open ended.

Bike 2:
I had pretty much committed to buying an Eddy Merckx Strasbourg Steel, but they aren’t available until fall, and I need something for this summer. I’ve thought about maybe getting a Crust Evasion Lite. Dream bike is a Ritchey Outback Breakaway, but my size isn’t in stock and there aren’t dealers in NYC as far as I can tell. I’ve found one source with my size online, but they only sell completes and I’m a little hesitant to spend $4500 on a bike I’ve never test ridden that I can’t pick all the parts for. The breakaway frame is a huge plus for me, because I will be living in dirt road middle of nowhere Costa Rica a few months of the year and I’d love to have a bike I can throw in a suitcase and take on a prop plane. For this bike, I want all the modern stuff: disc brakes, thru-axles, tubeless tires etc.

I can recoup at least $2000 from the bikes I have for sale, but I don’t have too strict of a budget. I have a set of those 650b Pub rims to build up for bike 2, and an 11 speed 650b rim brake wheelset and brakes to maybe use for bike 1.

I’m stuck because all my previous bike decisions were so budget constrained, I just picked up good deals whenever they appeared. Now I can get whatever I want, and have no idea what to do.

What’s the move?


I’m 6’1 if anyone has anything they want to sell me.

In the short term, if you’re set on the Breakaway feature, you could expand your search a bit to the Ritchey Ascent Breakaway (I think these exist?) or the older Breakaway cross bike. Here’s a 56 in LA for decently cheap:

…or a newer one in Chicago for more $$$:

Is this gonna be a placeholder bike until one of your dream bikes shows up in the local bike shop, or will it be something you’ll keep around after that?

If you want to get into big $$ bike foolishness, I’d get something functional for the summer (which in terms of acquiring, testing, and preparing a bike, is already here!) that checks minimal boxes, with the assumption that you’ll be getting something nicer later.

Like, there is a Surly that will do what you need it to do when bikepacking, but won’t be super exciting. Same with a Salsa.

Once you’ve goofed around with that thing for a couple of months, you can come back in the fall and plan out a really excellent bikepacking bike for the 2024 riding season. Sell the Surly to whoever’s one year behind you in this process.

I’ve always regretted bikes I’ve bought on a short clock, being able to take time and plan things out, take a couple months after the bike is “finished” to swap saddles around, try different tires, find out what the shifting setup actually wants, all that is nice.

For your around-town bike, a Night Moves would probably be perfect.


Sell it

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Sounds like you also what “Cool” Bikes.

ATMO less dither, more riding.
Fuck a heavy ass gravel bike.

Get one of these off the shelf things that will fucking slay and if you want to be “cool” get custom bags.
This bike is $1,700, they have an even cheaper one that still looks good and they have a carbon thing for 2,500.
You do not need couplers to travel with a bike… just get a bike bag, it will fit… and actually be less work to put back together.

As for around town… if you want nimble get a MiniVelo and do what @Timarchylime is too cowardly to do and put a big long dropper post on it.
You will basically be riding a BMX bike with a basket and big gears. It will fucking rip and VO has a frameset that is TAF:

But thats just like my opinion man.


Trade it for the same or sell it

Absolute dream bike for city riding is a custom rando bike?

How often are you going to lock up your fop chariot.

If it were me and I was looking for a bike it would be a low trail fork and porteur rack on a reasonably easy to replace frame.


they said they aren’t locking much, and if they’re birdwatching there’s probably a few miles here and there of riding around some busted semi-abandoned seafront infrastructure to find a nesting ground for the Eastern Ruffled Plover or whatever.

My city bike is a cheap cycletruck that can, technically, handle light offroading, but it’s not fun to ride more than a couple miles without stopping.

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You can get a coupled custom frame for $2000 or nearabout.
You can get a pukebacker fork with all the zits in steel or carbon for 200-500
Can you put together a group/brakes/wheels/bits for $1500? Probably.

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But why not just get a bike bag?
Your Coupler bike is still going to be oversize luggage…
It is just adding cost and weight…
It will take more time to put together when you get to your spot…
Or dont even buy a bag, just get a box from the local shop.
Couplers are FAFF.

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Taxis and shuttles and small prop planes are much more likely to have room for an S&S sized bag than something for a full size bike. Also at 6’ 1" the frame size takes up more room in a full-size bag or box. Not much, but it’s certainly noticeable.

edit: and minor point, but S&S size case doesn’t scream “BIKE!” the way a bigger case does.


get yourself a coupler bike and a Kona Dew which will check all the boxes but having couplers. Jamis, Marin, Kona, and Breezer all make nice versions of the Dew and it’s a bike that rides fine, groads fine, locks up fine, and in general is the secret best low-key normie bike for normie things.

if it gets stolen then easy to replace


Too small is too small, get rid of em and buy a Kona Dew Plus

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Yeah this is kind of a huge need for me. I don’t think they’ll let me take a big bike box on a 12 person prop plane. I also live in a tiny apartment, and being able to keep it in the case in a closet in the off season would also be a huge plus.

I’m thinking I should just get the Ritchey, and resist my urge to be fussy about every little component. Also, if I just buy a complete, it’s a lot easier to insure for the price I paid for it.


fuck, this thread is making me want to sell all bike shit i own.


I hear Forrest is in a buying mood


How tall are you

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5’11". 33" inseam.

but unless youre after vintage mtbs or a slack rigid 29er, im not sure i can be of service.

I do have a predilection for buying bikes that would fit a 5’11" person, but I have to stay on target