How many bikes does a cyclist need? – you asked Google and we’ve got the answer

S-1 becomes redundant in the event of a cycling obsessed partnership, so do we need an alternative to save us from ourselves?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 'You Asked Google' franchise at Cycling Weekly is a longstanding one with a simple premise: ransack Google for the questions people are asking, and answer them.

When the ever invasive search engine spat out 'how many bikes should a cyclist own?' the collective office response come back by rote: N+1, where N is number owned, or S-1, where S is the number that would result in separation from ones partner.

A problem arises when both components of a home-sharing partnership has a healthy appetite for bicycle collection.

In this instance, S-1 becomes redundant, and N+1 could be never ending.

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My own collection begins with the race bike, soon to be relegated with the arrival of an aero race bike, because Dan Bigham told me I'm perpetually squandering away 20 watts without one (see the 16/05 edition of Cycling Weekly mag for details).

Then there's the winter bike. I tried to deny this requirement once, under the misguided opinion that I could simply clean the 'best bike' after every ride and maintain its best-ness.

The best bike in question was eventually relegated to winter bike, but only after I'd spent the Cicle Classic National series race terrorising every rider in the peloton with the alarming cries exuding from my crumbling bottom bracket.

Then there is the track bike, without which I could not ride track. And the time trial bike, without which I could not tentatively tread the line between boring myself to death and scaring myself to death, once annually on a dual carriageway somewhere in Wales.

That's all whilst restricting myself to the tarmac. Go outside of that and there's a need for a cyclocross bike, plus mountain bikes wearing wheels in more sizes than you'll find plates on a Michelin star restaurant's dinner table.

For a conservative rider, that makes the minimum number of bikes five, multiplied by two to cater for two individuals in a partnership, with an endless +1 as more needs are unearthed.

This wouldn't be a problem, but for the fact that purchase of the afore mentioned bicycles has a knock on affect on the amount of floorspace available to store them.

S-1, it seems, is effectively a safeguarding tool. It was put in place to to prevent N+1 reaching a point where the cyclist in question is unable to fund the irritating eating habit that sometimes gets in the way of bike riding.

Without it, an alternative safeguard must be sought, to save us from ourselves. E-1 could work, where E is the number of bikes that will result in Eviction from the home.

Alternatively, just buy a caravan and a really big garage.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.