Uncle Dave Cornering Face
Ask Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave: Blow up my Life or Buy a New Bike?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date May 8, 2018

I'm quickly turning into one of those guys that just talks about whatever thing is standing right in front of him. But I ran out of insight a few years ago, so I think that this might be all that I'm left with. And really, my leg injury has been all-consuming these last few weeks. Limping around, I've become a target for every small talker at work, looking to find out what I've done, how I did it, and how long it's going to last for. I can't move very fast so it's hard to escape. Throw in the fact that I've had to look at that terrible photo of me wakeboarding every time I look at the site, and, well, I'm not going to say that these past few weeks have been terrible, but they haven't been the best.

I was actually feeling pretty damn good about things last weekend. Then a 3AM squirt session in the front yard with the dog (her, not me) led to me momentarily forgetting that I had a bad leg, and I re-jimmied it running up the stairs. This is fine, because every old man injury needs a pathetic old man injury story.

My physiotherapist has been in Arizona for the past week doing 200 km bike rides (whatever floats your boat, I guess), so I made an appointment with the other physio in the office. I look back now at that naive lad who thought he could squeeze an appointment in before heading off to work and I chuckle somewhat.

She seemed normal enough, from a distance. But her knowing smirk warned me that things might take a turn. With flashbacks to my high school wrestling class, I was quickly on my back having my legs jerked around at insane angles. The smirk grew into downright contempt as I tried to discuss the intricacies of my injury. I'm not actually sure what part of what I was saying was so humorous to her.

Now on my front side, things got weird. "I'm going to needle you. It will hurt."  Her accent only added to the menace, and like not many things in life before this, I really did believe her. I'd been needled a few times, but something told me this would be different.

I don't have many hang-ups, but needles are one of them. I give blood occasionally out of guilt and shame, and it takes a lot of willpower to convince my muscles to relax. I'm generally convinced that things are going to tense up, snap the needle and send a cascade of blood across the clinic. When somebody jabs a needle into my thigh and tells me to relax, this feels like one of those impossible, mutually exclusive type of arrangements. "There will only be 5 more" she said, once she got to the second one. I honestly imagined myself running out the front door but I wasn't sure that my leg worked properly enough to make that happen.

"This is a real tricky one" she said as she searched for the heart of my pain, balled up in my calf. "Okay. Turn over."

I sat there for a while. I asked her if she was serious. I told her that I didn't think that was possible. My body no longer worked. We came to an arrangement. I turned over. She looked at things. I turned back onto my front. And the machines came out. "The rest of the treatment will be much better."

I honestly believed her, for a while. I don't mind the sucky type machine with the tingly bits. The giant electromagnetic heat lamp isn't as fun, but it's kind of relaxing, maybe because it doesn't seem to do as much. And once we got there, I knew that things weren't going to be all that great for the next little while. She pulled the machine off. "You will be in much pain for the next few days. Try not to do anything. You can heat it if you like."

And she was gone.

I thought about crying for help when I couldn't get my shoes on. I barely made it to the front to pay my bill. I hobbled over to my car without even thinking about what was going to happen once I got there and I turned the thing on. I thought that if anybody had seen me go in, waited around for an hour, and then watched me come back out, this physiotherapy clinic would lose all of their business, forever. And then I drove slowly and kept to side streets.

Do your stretches, kids.

And now, an actual question.

Uncle Dave,

I have had a jumble in my personal life lately. The sort of jumble where the other side of a personal relationship realizes they're not so interested in being personal. Now a smarter man than I might not have started said relationship at all given that I don't particularly care for the weather round-a-bouts where I live (in New England) and my job is really just a way to pay the bills and fund stupid expenditures and I couldn't care much less about it. So now I'm pondering moving on down the road to somewhere warm with more tantalizing tracts of land, but I've also been eyeing a new slacked out wonder machine with 160mm of travel and wagon wheels and geometry that fits my lanky ass self. The question is, where does the catharsis come better from: riding off into the sunset on one of my other bikes and some extra savings that will be useful for setting myself up somewhere new where I'll probably have another soul-sucking job, or do I just blow money on a new bike for the immediate endorphin rush of shiny objects in the garage? Obviously, this is a stupidly subjective question but new opinions always help.


More Money Than Sense

Dear Morton:

I think we all need to really take a minute to think about what we’ve just read here. On one hand, we have a man in crisis. His relationship has ended. He doesn’t enjoy his job. He’s not enthralled with the place where he lives. This is not the portrait of a man lording it over the other schmucks at his high school reunion.

On the other, we have a man who wants to buy a new bike.

And the interesting thing is that he doesn’t seem to give much of a shit about all of that other stuff, and I can most assuredly speculate that not many of us do either.

It’s just weird, is all.

So Morton, I do have thoughts on some of your larger problems, but at the same time, I don’t really think you care all that much about what I have to say about your relationship, career or geographic location. Honestly, I could probably talk for hours about the decisions and compromises we make in order to pursue this sport that I occasionally reference when nothing else is happening, but this feels like one of those times  when I should at least pretend to talk about bikes. Which is a great lead in to a nice tangent.

One of the constants in my life is my brother-in-law trying to sell me a new vehicle. He’s a manager at a car dealership, so this kind of makes sense. Every few months I will get an e-mail or a text about a sweet vehicle that is perfect for me, that just happens to be rolling across the lot right that very moment. Usually, this is pretty easy to ignore, but recently, I’ve started to kick the tires on some of his suggestions. My truck is getting up there a bit in mileage. There’s things that piss me off about it. It’s still worth a bit of money, so I’ve thought maybe now is the time to move on. So I’m a teensy, tiny bit receptive which really just eggs him on.

His last smokin’ deal was actually pretty good. He had a couple of months old Colorado, loaded to the nuts. Diesel engine…barely any miles. Some old guy bought it, drove it, and then took a bath because he wanted a larger truck to replace the smaller truck that he just bought to replace his larger truck. If there’s one thing I look for when purchasing a vehicle it’s the ability to capitalize on the poor decisions of others. But, I worried a bit about the diesel and my stop-and-go city boy lifestyle. I worried a tonne about the shame of driving a General Motors product. But I was interested.

And then we started talking dollars. The perks of having a vehicle insider is that the shakedowns are somewhat minimized and the deals are hammered out on a relatively “at cost” basis. But even then…

“So. I give you my truck. Plus $25,000. And you give me that one? Or...Or...Or I just keep driving around in my Tacoma for free?”

Once I explained the economics of the situation to him, and to myself, there was no way in hell I was buying that truck. And I think most people, faced with that decision, framed in that way, would probably, at the very least, be hesitant in committing to fork over so much money for a rapidly depreciating asset.

Yet with bikes, it’s different. We’re so violently and consistently assaulted with an onslaught of bicycle marketing, it seems like we’re doing something wrong if we don’t drop a bucket of cash on the latest and greatest at the start of each season. Granted, that new money pit is probably going to be pretty damn sweet, and you most likely will be a tiny bit happier out there while riding it. As far as pissing away your money on something, a new bicycle isn't that bad of a choice. But still. Logically speaking, most bicycle purchases are terrible financial decisions.

So, here’s my new formula for deciding if you need to buy a new bike. Or, for talking yourself out of buying a new bike

1 – Assume that your old bicycle is worth way less money than you think it is.

2 – Assume that your potential new bicycle will very quickly be worth way less money than you think it will be.

3 – Spin those two sums of money around in your head for a while. The diminished value of your old bike. The soon to be diminished value of your new bike. Add them up. Subtract them. Multiply them, if that’s your thing. Now, imagine your new bike purchase as this either/or decision – Either you can have that old bike sitting in the corner for free…or you can have the money that you saved up for the purchase of your new bike evaporate from existence, to be replaced with a shiny bicycle that is of-the-moment for approximately 5 weeks, and that will shed value at an alarming rate for the next year or so before it's a hell of a lot less than what you paid for it.

We will all reach the point at some time where the money evaporation becomes the inevitable decision, but framed this way, perhaps you can avoid plunging in for at least a few months. It may be enough to get you on the bleeding edge of the next new standard.


Uncle Dave

Uncle Dave's Music Club

I'm going to go out on a limb and call ...And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead the best terrible band, ever. Don't get me wrong, Source Tags & Codes is a wonderful album. I can't believe that they created this video for that song, and I refuse to present it in anything other than a subtle link. But the 3 song collection (okay...2 songs and an interlude. And whatever that is on the end.) of "Relative Ways" through to "Source Tags & Codes" is a wonderful bit of music.

But other than this...man...I spent a lot of time listening to a band with one good album, a handful of other good songs, and a fuckload of broken guitars. Crazy times, man. Skip to "Source Tags" if you only have time for one song, but this little 3 piece jaunt really highlights for me something that is missing from music right now.

Okay. Looking back, these songs are all probably a minute too long. But whatever. And scratch that...if you're going to listen to one song, listen to "Baudelaire". I'd rearrange and put it to the top if I thought anybody was still reading to this point.

Now, on to the "handful of good songs". My favourite non Source Tags songs are the ones that sound nothing like a Trail of Dead song. Like this one. Honestly. I imagine a world where Trail of Dead becomes Trail of Puppies and they pump out radio friendly pop rock songs.

Or this one. Which sort of feels like when Guns & Roses got really artsy and Slash played guitar in a field of flowers in the rain. I think that happened.

I don't know man. These guys were talented musicians. I don't know what happened.

Congrats Morton! You'll be able to wear a fresh pair of NSMB.com socks in either a fresh location or on a fresh bike. If you like them order up a pair in our online store. Send us an email and we'll hook it up.


At NSMB we love wool socks for riding all year round. It keeps you warm when wet, cool when it's warm out (seriously), wicks moisture and doesn't stink like synthetic fibers. Not just for wet or winter climates - you'll appreciate these on long rides in hot weather, too.

Black / Charcoal / Mandarin (heels and toes)

75% TurboWool (Merino & Polypropylene) / 15% nylon / 10% spandex

Next time the Uncle Dave prize is a Lizard Skins prize pack individualized for the winner. You'll get a frame protection kit the grips of your choice with your name etched into the collars (or your nick - go for it Mad Dog!) and a pair of Lizard Skins gloves. If you want to get hooked up, you better send a good question to Uncle Dave. You know, ask him about wheel size or something. 

Trending on NSMB


+2 Cam McRae Morgan Heater
fartymarty  - May 8, 2018, 12:06 a.m.

...add being the sole bread winner and kids into the new bike mix and the decision becomes even more clear cut.

I justify it by telling myself I will wait till geometry and standards have settled down before buying a new bike.  Then throw in the gearbox factor and I probably wont have a new bike until 2028.


kekoa  - May 8, 2018, 1:30 a.m.

I bought one of their albums based on the group name and the fact that the art work was King Kamehameha pushing the O'ahu defenders off if the Nu'uanu Pali to their bloody mushed dēth some several hundred of feet below. To say I was disappointed would be a bit of an understatement.


+3 Cr4w Pete Roggeman Mammal
Garrett Thibault  - May 8, 2018, 5:41 a.m.

Move away! You’ll probably buy a new bike when you get there anyway because the terrain will require a slightly different steed to make the most of it. Or go into your office and demand they let you work remotely or else you’re gone, and you can do your soul sucking job from the trails or somewhere warm. Give someone else the ultimatum. Then you don’t have to decide, just deal with the consequences.


+2 Pete Roggeman Cr4w
FlipSide  - May 8, 2018, 6:47 a.m.

My strategy for new bikes is to buy the best bike I can afford that I will happily ride for several years without upgrading. I don't make compromises in accepting shit components I will want to replace ASAP (I find that when upgraditis starts, it just never stops). Then I fix an amount of money I agree to "loose" every year on that bike, which tells me how long I need to keep it before I can buy another one.

For example, my current bike cost me ~5000$ in 2013 and I was accepting a cost of 1000$/year + repairs + regular maintenance. That means 2018 will be a free year for me riding that bike. Woohoo!

For my next bike, I should probably accept a cost of ~1200$/year to determine how long I should keep it.


+4 Pete Roggeman Mammal Endur-Bro Metacomet
Dave Smith  - May 8, 2018, 6:55 a.m.

Can we all take a moment to enjoy Uncle Dave's uber Turn-Face in the cover image...


+1 Pete Roggeman
Dave Tolnai  - May 8, 2018, 8:08 a.m.

You're obsessed.


Morgan Heater  - May 8, 2018, 8:06 a.m.

Out of curiousity, how long do peoples bikes usually last? I'm hoping to get roughly 10 years out of my frame, basically until my kids have graduated college. I ride about 30 miles a week, pretty chunky stuff in the Seattle area. Is this a pipe dream, even if I stay on top of maintenance?


+2 FlipSide Pete Roggeman
Dave Smith  - May 8, 2018, 8:12 a.m.

I've had an Evil insurgent for about 3.5 years now. There's something to be said in buying something you genuinely want and then finding out that you can't find anything that you like more - and I've had opportunities to ride ALL the super bikes. I've only replaced wear-components on my Evil so far but there will be upgrades to the fork, dropper and brakes this spring. 

I suspect I'll be replacing my current bike with big wheels later this year but it's more of a want than need thing.


+2 Dave Smith Pete Roggeman
Dave Tolnai  - May 8, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

Dude!  You've been saying that since that bike was 6 months old!


+1 Pete Roggeman
Dave Smith  - May 8, 2018, 8:19 a.m.

Still true.


+1 Endur-Bro
Dave Tolnai  - May 8, 2018, 8:13 a.m.

Good question.  And I think that's the eternal dilemma.  If I look at my steel hardtail that I built up (and haven't ridden in a good many years), I first built that up 10 years ago.  I could still be riding that thing with some degree of happiness now, and for another 10 years.  I could probably source parts for it, no problem.  But I've moved on past it, several times over.  Why?  Because I'm a fickle human.

How long should a bike last?  Somewhere between 6 months and forever, depending on your willpower, income, bike lust, riding style and gut size.  Not to mention your bike material, the whims of the industry, Taiwanese exchange rate and US midterm election results.


+1 Mammal
Morgan Heater  - May 8, 2018, 10:40 a.m.

That is a terrible answer. :-)


Endur-Bro  - May 8, 2018, 7:11 p.m.

Pretty much sums it up.


flowrider  - May 8, 2018, 9:13 a.m.

I had a 2002 Banshee Scream until last year but that bike was a beast and I ride like a pansy (especially now).


Millsr4  - May 9, 2018, 6:28 p.m.

My frame is a 2008(I was told it was a 2010) that I got in 2012. I've replace every bit on the bike twice over, some things out of want but most from need. I have been pretty good about service and wasn't too hard on it the first few years but the last few I have absolutely hammered this frame and it has taken it like a champ. That being said, I'm pretty unsure as to how safe it is to ride these days and am planning on replacing it this season.


+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
[user profile deleted]  - May 8, 2018, 8:15 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

rvoi  - May 8, 2018, 9:57 a.m.

...was it destiny or was it fate? only the future will tell.


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