Dirty Words: Billions and Billions of Mountain Bikes


By Sal Ruibal

I see that Trek has opened its popular Project One bike customization program to mountain bikes. The idea behind Project One is that Trek will build you a bike that is like no other on the planet.

I’m not a math guy and I’m sure some of the numbers folks out there can be a lot more specific (a.k.a correct) about the numbers, but my numbskull calculations put the possible universe of unique Trek Project One mountain bikes at about 33,780,000,060.

Those first two threes are billions. Since humans first appeared on our planet, about 107 billion people have been born. Seven billion of them are alive now. I’m not sure how many of them have the dough (about $8k to more than $10K) to buy a Project One mountain bike, so with more than 33 billion unique bike builds, it seems that the odds of seeing someone else on the trails with an exact duplicate of your Project One bike would be, well, astronomical.

But you could be wrong. If you think about it, despite all the macho posturing, mountain bikers are pretty much alike, especially when it comes to thinking we’re gnarly individualists who don’t race in drafting packs supporting the anointed team star. Those would be roadies. Their Project One numbers are in a galaxy, far, far away. HAL9000 tried to crunch the numbers and look what happened to it.

Mountain bikers are also notorious for adding stuff to their bikes that are more like totems than performance-enhancing parts. When the cicadas came to Virginia several years ago, I stuck as many as eight of them at a time on my MTB handlebars under the brake and shifter cables. They seemed to enjoy it until they died.

That year there were probably enough cicadas to give every one a unique Project One bike to ride on. This year I put just one bug on my bike and it was already half-dead.

I have also “uniqued” my bikes with stickers and mojos for my Ibis Mojos. My XC bike has always had a bat mojo to ward off evil spirits and flat tires. Only one flat this year, so it seems to be working. It also has a tag that says, “001.” I’m not in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but my bike was the first in the rack in the bike parking lot at the recent NoVa Epic MTB ride. I’ll take my firsts where I find them.

If I ever got a Project One bike, I would probably disrupt the mathematical model and rain on the iCloud by adding a “My other bike is a Cat” sticker and a new under-the-saddle tool bag to replace the old red one I had for many years. Those changes would probably add a couple of zeroes to the unique pack of 33,780,000,060, give or take a few old coots who decorate their bikes with Belgian beer bottle caps.

It takes one to know one. Or a billion.

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