What Is N+1? We Break Down The Mathematical Theory Of Owning Bikes

N+1 is the optimal number of bikes

Every cyclist knows that it is impossible to ever be completely happy with the bikes that you have. That’s not to say that you don’t like the bikes you own but it means that your hunger to own all the bikes in the world is never satiated.

Some of you new to the world of cycling may have seen a term banded about, N+1. More of a mathematical theorem than any a term, it is a gateway into understanding us cyclist on a deeper level.

Whenever we are out riding, there will always be a bike that looks newer, shinier and faster than ours. It’s the two wheeled version of the grass always being greener. N+1 is the theoretical utopia for number of bikes owned, the perfect amount to achieve cycling paradise.

Just one more, it’s all I need honest

So how does it work? Well let’s take how many bikes you currently own. That could be one, two, four, 100, whatever the number is, that relates to N. So if N is the number of bikes you own, all you have to do to reach paradise is plus one.

The very nature is paradoxical. Like a heavy set rider boasting about their watt output, they will always have a lower power to weight ratio than their stick thin mate, making their boasts invalid.

Cyclists are known to suffer physically on a bike. We push ourselves up alpine climbs in sweltering weather, riding forlornly for hundreds of kilometres throughout the winters, for a whole host of personal reasons. However, N+1 shows that we also torment ourselves mentally.

Forever hunting for that next hit, hoping that it will be our last, we can’t help but drool over the next aerodynamic bike. That is before we realise that they oddly look exactly like all the other aerodynamic bikes on the market.

Falling down the rabbit hole of cycling goodies, cyclists are much like Alice when she can’t get the size right. She drinks potions to make her large and potions to make her small but it’s never quite right and in our maniacal hunt for the perfect amount of bikes, we, like Alice, are never satisfied.

Then we realise we’re broke, so it doesn’t matter.