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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Column: 10 bicycles

The average Davisite owns 2.1 bicycles, according to an informal Davis Wiki census. This average is pushed up because of bike ministers like myself who own too many bikes than appear logical. I own at all times at least 10 bicycles, and have at times owned 35 or more. While I could pool my money in one or two bicycles, what’s the fun in that?  Please let me proceed to defend my decadence and offer a primer on vehicle purpose: Each of my 10 bicycles is necessary for specific activities in a low-automobile lifestyle.

Betraying my own eccentricity, each bike I own is named after ex-girlfriends of mine. While this is inescapably one of my most misogynistic behaviors, it provides me with invaluable function: limiting unnecessary further purchases and reminding me not to make the same mistake twice. Naming of a bicycle is a slow process for an informal bike-vendor. I generally had between 15-25 bikes chain-locked around my former dome, of various sizes and values, available for the right price. However, certain ones grew on me and I began to refuse reasonable offers; I was smitten. Unlike girlfriends, you can have as many bikes as you want, and they never get jealous, vindictive or stale.

Most of my bicycles and former girlfriends are international and are from the mid 1980s. My two Miyata bicycles are named after my two most serious former partners, both multi-year relationships from my days in Riverside. There is Xing (1), my Miyata 912 bicycle, a racing bicycle that refuses to compromise, and Shelly (2), my Miyata 610, a touring bicycle built for carrying the world’s weight. These two women were both “Triple M’s” – medically-inclined model minority – but could not be more different in practice (i.e. Amy Tan meets Jhumpa Lahiri and viral eradication verses holistic medicine.) These red and silver bikes capture this same duality, appearing identical to the untrained eye. The difference is their approach: my 912 is about fleeing commitment, while the 610 carries a ton of baggage. I currently use the 912 to bike to work in Sacramento, and the 610 for shopping and beer runs in Davis.

Cynthia, my night bicycle, was sold and I’m looking for a replacement. This bike was a silver Peugeot Triathlon and operated only by the light of the moon and SUVs.

Anne-Marie (3), another Peugeot Triathlon, is a bright-red untarnished racer that spent 20 years dust-collecting inside. Anne-Marie and I never really were partners, (nor did I use this bike much, with exception of the 2009 Picnic Day parade) but we are forever linked, as my own vanity prevented me from taking this beautiful and differently-abled woman to high school prom. I will live forever knowing how selfish a decision this was. In the same way, this gorgeous bike hangs in my room and is a reminder about vanity and how it prevents you from living life and giving to the fullest.

Stephanie (4) is my Bridgestone MB-1, a dented, unremarkable looking bike. This high-end mountain bike I use for Bike Polo. It’s hefty, quick and vicious, just like its namesake, captain of the junior-high volleyball team.

Xiaoyan (5), my purple Cannondale T700, is a prissy aluminum bike that I use for laundry and as a backup commuter, a bike that likes to follow rules and not get dirty. This is the only bike I own that came from the Bike Collective, and the frame was a deal at $40.

Susana (6), my Raleigh Technium fixed gear, reminds me not to coast through life. I ride this red, gold and yellow limo to special events.

Catherine (7), my Specialized Stumpjumper, is a great mountain bike that has little affection for Davis flatland. There are also my tandem and folding bicycle pair (8,9,10) – these quirky bikes will get their own article. These bikes I use with the love of my life (and non-cyclista), Amy.

Are you letting satisfaction with your current bike prevent you from buying another bike? Foolish! No quantity of bikes is too great! No quantity of bikes costs all that much either. My fleet of 10 used bicycles does combine to cost half of what a new bike costs downtown, (or one month’s car payment) which gives me great pride. More than pride, the functionality of owning more than one bike is proven when you have a flat or a bike is stolen.

In terms of embodied energy, which is the amount of energy it took to make it, I’d need 45 new bicycles just to equal a Toyota Prius, according to iBikeToronto, and that’s not factoring in gasoline. I’d much rather have 45 bikes.

CHRISTOPHER SALAM is a minister at the Davis Bicycle Collective, and can be reached at mrsalam@ucdavis.edu. If you are interested in DIY bicycle repair visit the DBC at its Bike Forth location, on L Street and 4th.


  1. Chris, this is great! As a bike enthusiast and mechanic, I’ll definitely have this on my mind as I work. Admittedly, I won’t be naming any of my bikes after my exes, but I definitely appreciate the pragmatism of an otherwise sentimental endeavor. Nice work, and feel free to stop by Blisworks anytime!


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