I'm not intentionally keeping a 26" mountain bike alive - I'm just old; PACE RC303

The 26" thing.

Years ago we all rode 26" bikes and the world was good. We'd have one bike for the pub, downhill, uphill or adventures out. I'm not sure I was ever aware of what a head angle was, or the interior width of my rims. Tyres were 1.95" wide, or if you were a rebel or had cash to splash, you'd go to 2.1". 7x3 gearing, 540mm wide handlebars (which sometimes you'd cut down!). Invariably on a ride you'd have to adjust your rim brakes once or twice, there'd be a puncture, and quite often the 1" headset would come lose. Rides would be improbably long - my Sunday's were all day affairs, 70 miles done thank you. I was not alone in doing such.

Then you'd use the same bike Monday through Friday to ride to work. 140 miles a week, week in, week out for years.

Now we have lots of different sized bikes, all for different things. There seems to be very few, do it all bikes. It's still good though - mainly as bikes are hugely reliable things now, gradually wearing down rather than out. I now never replace even a chain as part of casual maintenance; just wait until the whole lot dies, then buy a complete Deore transmission for £90.

PACE RC303 stuck in the M23 mud.

I'd love a new bike. I work, so why not?

Well.... My Orange Clockwork cost £700 in 1995. I've still got it. My Orange 5 cost £1,800 in 2013. I've still got it. An equivalent Clockwork now is £1,400, and a 5 around £3,600. Just cannot get my head around those kind of prices. Looked at Whyte, but they seem to be made of scaffold poles. My 5 was heavy at 31lb; now 34lb is considered a good bike weight. Is it?

I don't ride trail centres you see, so for the hills I ride, my old bikes still work well enough. And well enough doesn't equate to my justifying a new bike. I'd be no faster, or ride any further.

It's boring though. I so want a new bike. Five years ago I'd not have thought twice; just buy what I  fancy. I've probably turned into an old man over night, moaning about everything.

My PACE. Indeed any of my bikes.

I've looked at used bikes, specifically the Whyte T130 series. £1,400 should get a used one. Always described as having been ridden once or twice, along canal paths.... Smell a rat. Canals are a throwback to Victorian times. Who spends £2,500 on a bike just to ride a path? Nobody. Check to see how much new transmission would be. Oh, £900. I'm guessing a lot of these used bikes will need a darned good service. Possibly to the point a new bike becomes the more economical buy.

Whilst saving, I keep on top of my old bikes. The PACE for instance. New ten speed transmission, £85 as I already have a bottom bracket and crank. Just put a dropper on it; cost me £100. So an investment of £185 made my bike look like a new one. Another £100 spent fixing the forks, and it works like a new one (same frame angles really as some of the new XC Trek bikes). Out on it the other day, still set a few decent Strava times. I'm sure this is a negative feedback loop; some bizarre self justification for not moving on in life.

There's also a growing suspicion that bikes now are faster than their riders. When I did motorbikes 20 years ago, my 600cc bike would do double the speed limit. Now you can buy 220bhp bikes with traction control that accelerate faster than an F1 car. Yup, you're going to use that to full potential.... I think mountain bikes are the same. Watch one of the current crop of downhillers on some rough circuit. I'm betting nothing can get down those trails faster than they can. Nothing. You and I, born fifty odd years ago, pootling down on a £4k uber bike, aint gonna happen is it? We're not going to get anywhere near what a bike like that can do. Indeed watch some downhills from ten years ago, when they were on tiny wheeled 26" bikes - you can ride like that can you?

So for now I'm an old git riding old bikes and setting good times doing so - provided I only ride locally, on trails I've ridden hundreds of times. Move me outside of my comfort zone, to trails designed for the newer bikes, and I'm utterly screwed.

That's probably the reality of it. I've grown old with old bikes.

Time for a change, time for a new toy!

STRAVA whore.