I may be experiencing a bit of a 🚲 cycling midlife crisis brought on by the pandemic

Here’s what happened so far:

  1. I sold my CX-bike-turned-commuter a few months ago because its aluminium frame didn’t deal well with dragging a laden dog trailer.
  2. At roughly the same time, I bought an old and beautiful titanium MTB as a daily beater. The 120 mm stem and 540 mm wide handlebars felt supremely weird.
  3. Fitted the MTB with a shorter stem and moderately wide, 680 mm handlebars. That did the trick and the frankly over-engineered frame is much, much stiffer and has no problems when pulling the trailer.
  4. Side effect: I’ve been spending more time on a flat bar bike again and even though the overall geometry of the MTB is closer to my gravel bike than any remotely modern MTB, it still rides completely differently. And it’s fun. Damn.
  5. For a few weeks I’ve been alternating between the gravel bike and the MTB on similar rides. This had me remember how much I enjoyed the MTB riding position back in my youth. Damn again.
  6. But holy baloney, rim brakes are crap for challenging terrain. Even the top notch hydraulic ones on that thing. People did downhill with rim brakes?!?
  7. Started researching modern MTBs. Slack head tube angles and steep seat angles make for a bike that descends well and climbs well, you say? Interesting.
  8. That Nordest Sardinha II does look nice and seems to fit the bill. Not a rowdy enduro bike but theoretically more capable than a XC bike. So many mounts. This could be a blast for touring and confidence inspiring for the more technical rides I like to do. It’s steel and not titanium but maybe I can deal.
  9. Ah well, I didn’t have time to configure a complete bike anyway and I lack knowledge to gauge the suitability of MTB wheels and forks to build it up without braking the bank.
  10. Oh look, someone sells a Sardinha II in my size with everything but the saddle, pedals, and shift group. Checks spare parts cupboard. Yup, all here. Damn for a third time.
  11. Bought it.
  12. But what about the other bikes? Do I really need 4 bikes?
  13. Let’s see where this goes and maybe I’ll sell the old MTB and the road bike. The gravel bike should be able to do road just fine with the right tyres and cassette, right? Right? Where did I put that set of WTB Exposure 30 again?

So this is where I’m at.
I have a black Nordest Sardinha II standing behind me. Fitted it with a dropper post, my SRAM XO1 Eagle group, and I’m just waiting for a different front tyre and some small parts before I head out for the first ride on one of my go-to routes around here to see if this something I can see myself riding again.

The gravel bike will see its wheel sets changed up a bit: The WTB Nano 40 pneus will come off, to be replaced by the Exposure 30 and tubes for road riding. The 11–40 cassette will be swapped for either the 9–39 or the 11–32 I have in my workshop.

The Specialized Pathfinder Pro will stay on the second set of DT Swiss CR1600 wheels but fitted with tubes because I damaged one of the tyres in a way that tubeless sealant can’t fix. For typical gravel riding in dry conditions, these tyres are super capable.

It’s going to be an interesting riding season.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney