The Soapbox: Are You Addicted to Buying MTB Gear?

Words by Dr Jeremy Adams | Images by Jordan Cole

Hi, name is Jeremy and I’m a mountain bike gear addict…

See if you recognise any of the following scenarios…

Scenario: I spend hours a week on bike sites, looking for bargains, reading reviews and scouring forums. I follow bike sites on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to more than one MTB magazine. I take at least two hours of reading and researching reviews before buying anything.

Scenario 2: I rationalise purchasing mountain biking gear based on price (for example, owning at least five bike jerseys because they were on special when you bought them). In other words, I convince myself that buying things that I don’t need (when they’re on special) is actually a really good idea because I’m actually saving money (and that’s how I justify it to myself, my girlfriend/wife, boyfriend/husband)!

Scenario 3: I spend hours talking about my purchases with my mountain biking mates. Mostly this just makes me feel worse because I end up second-guessing my decisions, but I make myself feel better by justifying my purchases.

Any or all of these: chances are you’re a tad addicted to buying mountain bike gear…

It’s only a disorder when it starts to impair your life substantially – for example, if you were to bankrupt yourself by buying a lot of expensive bikes, get fired from your job for spending all your time on review sites.

OK, let’s explore this a bit. First, it’s not really an addiction. Addiction implies a physiological dependency on a chemical, or on the chemicals released as the result of a behaviour (like gambling, eating, or sex). Technically, it is possible to become dependent on shopping/buying, but it’s only a disorder when it starts to impair your life substantially – for example, if you were to bankrupt yourself by buying a lot of expensive bikes, get fired from your job for spending all your time on review sites, or be dumped by your partner because all you do is talk about mountain biking gear.

That’s not to say it can’t be a problem at less than disorder levels. It really comes down to benefit versus cost. If you end up spending a large proportion of your time and money reading about, commenting on, and buying mountain biking gear, and that gets in the way of genuinely important things (like riding your bike, having a relationship, or working) then it’s most definitely a problem – in real terms (not in your head) in these sort of scenarios, the costs certainly outweigh the benefits. And when your girlfriend or wife, boyfriend or husband (not to mention your non-mountain biking friends and workmates) gets completely sick of hearing yet another in-depth analysis of the benefits of 29″ wheels over 650B, or why a 1×11 drivetrain is superior to 2×10, you’re probably not doing yourself any favours on the sustainable relationship front.

If mountain biking is your thing, you’re much better off cultivating the time to be able to get out and ride

And the benefits? Well, it’s certainly handy to have a good idea of what’s going on in the world of mountain biking and gear developments, it’s nice to be able to have up-to-date gear and, even more interestingly, it’s useful to learn how to service your own bike, and to purchase some good tools and materials to keep your bike running well. And yes, learning about and mastering each of these things will take a fair bit of your time. But sport-specific knowledge and workshop skills are only useful in the context of actually being able to ride. If mountain biking is your thing, you’re much better off cultivating the time to be able to get out and ride (or training when you can’t) rather than rationalising a lot of time and money wasting to satisfy an urge. At its very best, satisfaction of urges to buy stuff, read another review, or get involved in another online forum debate, is only a proxy for riding: the satisfaction you get from it simply won’t last.

So, by all means keep up to date, and buy yourself a treat from time to time – but remember: riding is about riding, not reading about it or buying bling*.

 

Do I have a problem?

Read through the following list and give yourself a score of 1 to 5 for each statement (1 for never, 2 for sometimes/maybe, 3 for usually, 4 for often, 5 for always). Add up your final score and then have a look at the scoring range below.

  • 1) I spend 2 or more hours a week on the internet researching or buying mountain biking gear.
  • 2) I spend 5 or more hours a week on the internet researching or buying gear.
  • 3) I spend more than $100 a month on gear.
  • 4) I spend more than $250 a month on gear.
  • 5) My girlfriend/wife, boyfriend/husband switches off as soon as I start talking about mountain biking gear.
  • 6) My friends or work colleagues have stopped talking to me because I’m always talking about mountain biking.
  • 7) I know everything about the latest mountain biking gear, trends, race formats, bikes, components, etc.
  • 8) I subscribe to two or more mountain bike magazines.
  • 9) I follow more than two mountain biking sites on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • 10) I check my favourite mountain biking websites (e.g., Chain Reaction) for specials at least two or more times a week.
  • 11) I subscribe to email notifications from more than one online mountain biking store, and always tend to click through on deals when they come through.
  • 12) My bike is heavily modified from when I bought it (e.g., carbon components, custom parts, bling parts).
  • 13) I own at least two or more of: bike shorts, bike gloves, riding jerseys.
  • 14) I own two or more bikes.
  • 15) I own five or more bikes.
  • 16) I own two or more of: helmets, headcams, goggles/sunglasses (MTB specific), hydration packs.
  • 17) My garage/workshop/spare room is full of bikes and, or bike gear.
  • 18) I’ve set up my own bike workshop and own enough tools to do at least my own basic maintenance (e.g., changing brake pads, bleeding brakes, changing chain, etc.)
  • 19) I own two or more of the following specialised workshop equipment: air compressor, workshop stand, wheel truing stand, dish stick, spoke tensioner, headset press, etc.
  • 20) I feel weird (e.g., grumpy, distracted, frustrated, anxious) when I can’t easily access bike gear info (e.g., when I’m on holiday or don’t have internet access).

Scores:

20-30: No problem, either I’m really chill about gear, or I just don’t care.

30-40: It’s OK, I can quit any time – I don’t have a problem.

40-50: OK, maybe I’m a little preoccupied, but it’s not causing any problems.

50-60: I’m really interested in bikes and gear but it’s a healthy obsession.

60-70: I’m more than a little obsessed, it’s starting to irritate the people around me, but I’ve no idea why!

70-80: Biking is my life, I know everything about what’s going on, have pretty much all the latest gear, but it’s under control – my partner hasn’t left me yet.

80-90: I would read this, but it would get in the way of abusing other people on Rotorburn.

90-100: I used to have a girlfriend/wife, boyfriend/husband, but she/he got in the way of my biking needs, and they had to go…

 

*Irony alert – yes I’m aware that I just wrote an entire article about getting out and riding when I could have been riding.

 

 

About the author:

Dr. Jeremy Adams is a registered psychologist and director of Eclectic Consulting Ltd. He divides his time between mountain biking, working with athletes and other performers, executive coaching, and private practice.

 In past lives, Jeremy has been a principal lecturer in sport and performance psychology at a university in London, a senior manager in a large consulting firm in Melbourne, a personal trainer in Paris, and a scuba instructor in Byron Bay. He’s also the author of a textbook on performance in organisational management, a large range of professional and popular articles, and a regular blog about how to be human (www.eclectic-moose.com).

Jeremy is based in Melbourne and can be contacted through his website (www.eclectic-consult.com).

 

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