5 Minute Read

The "N Plus One" Rule

The proper number of bikes to own is N+1, where N is equal to the current number of bikes you currently have. Image contains: Giant TCR bike, Cycleops Hammer trainer, subway-inspired tube map, bike hats.

The N+1 Rule

Everyone who gets really into cycling, bicycling, or riding, however you wish to refer to it, should know about the N+1 rule. It states:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.

Amusement aside, there are actual reasons for this, at least generally. And some of us choose to adhere to that reason (or reasons) a bit more than others. We typically say it’s because each bike is fitted best to specific purposes. Or perhaps it’s just because riding your bike is especially addicting and super fun. Perhaps I’ll write about this later in another post.

Honestly, whatever reason you have to your bike, as long as you’re riding it, I think it’s worth it.

Factor O2 VAM

Factor O2 VAM bicycle leaning against the wall at Twin Peaks in San Francisco, California

This is my Factor O2 VAM, and allow me to geek out a bit on this one. I had it built up here locally by Palo Alto Bicycles, and they were kind enough to let me supply a lot of my own parts, which I got on sale over at Competitive Cyclist. It’s a pretty fun experience building up a bike from scratch, by the way, and if you’re really into geeking out over parts in addition to what the ride itself affords you, it’s totally worth it.

Parts list

  • Factor O2 VAM 53cm frame, disc brakes
  • Dura Ace DI2 Components, all around
  • Pioneer Dual Sided Power Meter, 34x50 tooth compact gearing
  • 11-30 cassette (it’s a climbing bike, after all!)
  • Black Inc 30 wheels
  • GP5000 28mm tubeless tires
  • DI2 battery sensor (for the visual gear read-out)
  • Wahoo Elmnt Bolt head unit
  • Red Fizik bar tape (for now)
  • Garmin Varia rear light and radar (which deserves its own post)

Beyond the components, Factor has a sweet deal generally when you buy the frame from them. When most frames of this category cost 4500-5000 on their own, Factor lets you pick a set of wheels along with the integrated one piece Black Inc bar stem and carbon seat post for an additional 1500. This is in addition to the bike already coming with a CeramicSpeed bottom bracket and headset. Not bad!

VAM means what now?

“VAM”, as they label it, is short for Velocita Ascensionale Media, which is basically the VAM setting you can show on your head unit. It represents the median climbing speed vertically that you’re going uphill on a climb. It was something that was popularized by Dr. Ferrari, the guy who in later years, was the man behind a lot of the doping scandals of the Tour in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Eh, whatever on that part, it’s still generally a good measure to see just how quickly you’re moving vertically.

2016 Giant TCR Advanced SL

2016 Giant TCR Advanced SL bicycle leaning against a fence with Enve 4.5 wheels

This bike unfortunately sits in my trainer most days at this point, although it still occupies a special place of my heart. It was really my first true journey into what I love about this sport. I got it through Fullerton Bicycles, and they are an awesome shop. Seriously, go see Mike Franze if you’re at ALL interested and are local to the area.

The Parts I Love on this Bike

  • Pioneer Dual Sided Power Meter, 34x50 tooth compact gearing (although I don’t think it works anymore)
  • Enve SES Aero Handlebars
  • Enve SES 4.5 wheelset (not the newer AR model)
  • Chris King RJ45 hub (sexiness in sound)
  • Integrated Seat Post

Honestly, I should probably sell this thing, but I know I won’t get nearly enough for it, given that it’s still a thoroughbred race machine in the hands of the right rider. I had so many great experiences on this bike, mainly back when I lived in Newport Beach, from racing around with Team Rokform (or Bike Monkeys now, I believe), to touring all the way from Newport to Malibu and back to downtown Los Angeles to take the train home (115 miles).

Giant TCR bicycle leaning against light pole along Coast Highway in Newport Beach, California

2017 Niner RLT9 Steel

Niner RLT9 Steel bicycle in garage against a wall

Unfortunately my Niner doesn’t get enough love from me these days. It’s a sweet bike, but it is heavier than most of the carbon ones that are so popular for gravel riding. This thing is a beast though, and really does roll up to speed quick quickly, given its 853 steel construction.

The Parts I Love on this Bike

  • Steel construction (steel is real, right?)
  • Shimano clipless XT pedals (first time with these)
  • WTB CT24 tubeless carbon wheelset (pictured below)
  • WTB 47mm Sendero tires (also pictured below, and are badass tires!)

I’ve only done a few true gravel rides with this thing, but one of them was one of the most memorable ones for me. It was through the SF Peninsula Watershed, which is this disputed area of land where the reservoirs of the SF Bay Peninsula are located. There’s even a whole group online dedicated to “opening the watershed” as they call it. A lot of history there, but occasionally they take people through to go ride some of the single and double track roads out there, and it truly is spectacular, especially if you’re already familiar with the area from the back of a bike. It’s amazing where bikes like this can take you!

Niner RLT9 Steel bicycle with WTB Sendero gravel tires leaning against a wall

So that’s the overview of my stable! Perhaps a bit more matter-of-fact details as opposed to my actual thoughts on the subject, but as I’m exploring my intentions for this blog, I feel like this is an important one to have pretty early on.

The Latest