As MBA’s chief editor, I enjoy the pleasure of riding virtually any mountain bike I want. Downhilling on Tuesday on the new Foes DHS; freeriding the latest Specialized big-hit bike on Thursday, and thrashing an 18-pound hardtail on Saturdays epic?it’s all in a weeks work. The up-side of this artificial lifestyle is that I never have to clean a chain or replace a worn out drivetrain part. If my bike starts squeaking or the suspension springs a leak, I can turn it in for a new one. The down-side is that I never ride one particular test bike long enough to be at-one with it. I rarely develop the kind of bond that makes me feel that I?m in the bike, not on top of it. You would think that my garage would be stuffed with megabuck superbikes or one-off custom jobs, but that isn?t the case. I don?t have a garage, and my three personal bikes hang on a wooden rack inside my office. They aren?t new, nor are they packed with the latest and coolest accessories. My main ride is an original prototype Specialized FSR-XC. Next is a GT i-Drive 1000 with Shimano disc brakes. For special rides, I use my Mantis Pro Floater. The components of all three are magnificently boring stuff like Shimano Deore XT and XTR–two are eight-speeds. I know, I know–that is still a lot of hardware for anyone to be packing. How many mountain bikers can afford one pro bike, much less three? Such largess poses questions that beg to be answered: Why three dual-suspension bikes?; Why no hardtail?; Why own a mountain bike at all when you can borrow any one you choose? The following is my defense: a–All good things happen in threes. b–After spending the first ten years of my mountain bike life on rigid bikes and hardtails, and the second ten on dual-suspension–I am thoroughly convinced that a moderate-travel, dual-suspension bike is better–period–end of story–in all but one circumstance. c–I have my own personal bikes because I can trust them. I?ve assembled them, I?ve maintained them. I?ve troubleshot out their glitches. They fit me like a glove. There’s a relationship there that doesn?t exist on a borrowed bike. Regardless of zoot-factor, value or promise of performance, riding a test bike is always work in progress. There are times when I need a soul ride, and that’s when I pull one of my trusty faves off the wooden rack and head for the mountains. If you?ve read this far, then you know what I?m saying here. Sooo then, are you still curious about that one exception? Whenever some new designer or big-brand marketing hero is extolling the virtues of his or her latest superbike, I ask them: How well would it pass the desert island test? The reply is usually, ?Huh?? Well, I explain, Say that my wife Corrine and I were stranded on an uncharted island off the coast of New Zealand, and we were forced to live off the land, without any contact with outside civilization for the rest of our lives. What single mountain bike would I choose for this paradise? It’s a tougher question than it seems. The bike would have to be ultra reliable. It must be serviced with the crudest of tools, and it would have to withstand any weather or terrain conditions. My choice? A titanium-framed one-speed with a rigid fork, platform pedals and foam-filled tires. How would you set up your Bali Hi dream bike? E-mail me in paradise!
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