Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cataloging bike collections

As I began accumulating bikes over the past four years or so, I decided I needed a system for cataloging my bikes.  Occasionally I'm asked by others who see my bikes to provide them with "build lists"-- detailed accountings of every component make and model on the bike. With one or two bikes, this information isn't difficult to remember, but once you amass a small fleet of bikes, it becomes difficult to keep track of your builds. In addition, I've been cataloging the dimensions and geometries of my bikes, as well, to closely compare them. The reason is that when I find a bike with a comfortable fit, I can look back at the "spec sheet" and try to understand what dimensions and angles are associated with that comfortable fit. I can use that information to alter another bike by adjusting stems, seatposts, handlebars, etc, so that it can more closely match the bike whose fit I want to reproduce.

Thus, I began creating spec sheets for each of my bikes. To do this, I simply created an Excel worksheet for each bike. To spruce things up and "personalize" each spec sheet for the bike it describes, I used Excel's border and fill colors to approximate the color scheme of the bike. If you don't have Excel, most any word processor has basic table functions that can do the same job. And, most programs allows you to export the tables in pdf or jpg formats for posting online.

Here's an example:  My Raleigh Competition GS. This is the bike:

And this is the spec sheet (click on it for full-size):
Easy!  Of course, keeping a database isn't only pertinent to bikes, nor is it particularly novel.  But for someone who likes to keep track of a bike collection, it's a neat and visually pleasing way of doing it. 


2whls3spds said...

That spread sheet idea of yours works great ;-)

My bride is more a picture type person so I created a word template for her to use.


Velouria said...

I like this idea very much and I've tried to keep a database like this for my fountain pen collection in the past. But like Aaron's bride, I am more of a visual person, and began to find it tiresome down the line. I prefer having a sort of photo-lookbook of my bikes, at different stages. I think the database is very much a male thing though- my husband loves things like this.

MDI said...

...must catalogue spokes... :)

somervillain said...

excellent suggestion, MDI!

MDI said...


Spoke broke on one of my bike's rear wheels. Again.

Very sad. And on top of it, it happened before I could catalogue them. I hate machine built-wheels... No more factory bikes for me, except possibly a Brompton... :)

Velouria said...

You need to catalog when each spoke failure happens, including time of day, temperature and road conditions. Then bring the spreadsheet to Harris and demand a refund. They will love you.

somervillain said...

pashley again? or different bike?

i meant cataloging spoke *specs* for each bike: length, brand, material, gauge, double-butted or straight-gauge... you know, all the fun stuff :-)

MDI said...

Harris already loves me.

The replaced the broken spoke with a DT spoke. I now have 2 DT spokes in the rear wheel. It's not clear why it is happening and they spoke with both Pashley and their distributor to pin-point the problem. Maybe they are just being polite about my weight (or, as I call it, the stuff in my Brooks bags).

In any case, they said that to permanently solve the problem they want to rebuild that wheel. They are ordering the special spokes from the elves in Stratford-upon-Avon (they offered to use the same DT spokes they use for their custom wheels, but it won't match the bike's character and the front wheel, so I went with the original "motorcycle" spokes).

Since I have another 5-speed SA hub, I'll have Harris build me a second wheel instead of rebuilding my original wheel on the original rim. I'll only be out of the price of one rim and I'll have an entire backup rear wheel. That's the plan anyway.

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