Buy or Borrow: The Mountain Bike

Buy or Borrow: The Mountain Bike

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One who borrows brews his own trouble. —AMERICAN PROVERB 

Committing to new outdoor pursuits can be daunting. Learning new skills, making new friends, finding new hotspots, and yes, buying new stuff—it all adds up. And what if you don’t like the activity? That’s a whole bunch of cash you’ll never see again. Which is why it often makes sense to borrow before you buy. A summer case in point: the mountain bike. But when do you go from a loan to your own? And what are the rules for bike-borrowing? Read on to find out.

Etiquette
Don’t
Take your friend’s road-bike down Leverich.
Do
Make sure the request matches the outing. 

Don’t
Take someone’s prized possession out of her unlocked garage without asking.
Do
Ask ahead of time and show up with coffee & donuts the morning of. 

Don’t
Go riding in the rain, clog the drivetrain with mud, and leave your friend to deal with the mess.
Do
At least offer to give the bike a bath. And you shouldn’t be riding in the rain, anyway. 

Don’t
Cram the bike awkwardly into the back seat of your Subaru without thinking about damage to components.
Do
Try to procure a bike rack—if you can’t, at least drop the seats and clear out your junk. 

Don’t
Return the bike with flats or other mechanical issues.
Do
Fess up to flats—they happen, and your friend will understand. 

Don’t
Borrow the bike repeatedly all summer long, even if it’s your buddy’s backup.
Do
Offer to buy it used at a good price—biking is awesome. 

Resources
Asking to borrow can be the hardest part. Here’s who to approach:
Industry folk: A bike-shop buddy should have something lying around.
Brother-in-law: He’s a lawyer and can afford a flat or two.
Your roadie friend: Her obsession with pushing miles means her knobby-tired steed is neglected. 

When to Buy
You’re riding more than once a week and borrowing more than once a month.
You’ve subscribed to a variety of coffee-table-quality mountain-bike pubs.
You know what “one by” means.
You can clean Emerald Lake.

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