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Something New at the Bicycle Shop

I recently read an online article in Bloomberg Pursuits about record growth over the past year in the market for musical equipment. And with it, a new affliction: gear acquisition syndrome (GAS).

GAS is defined as a tendency to purchase more equipment than justified by usage or price.

Music Radar states that guitarists are the most at-risk population for GAS. Middle-aged men are heavily represented.

It strikes me that cyclists can be added to the list of the GAS afflicted.

Graphic courtesy of

Cyclists, certainly the middle-aged ones, fit nicely into the 7 stages of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, as outlined in Music Radar.


There was a time when you loved everything about your bicycle. But of late, every time you ride, you feel like every other cyclist is riding something better. Your bike isn’t as pretty as all those other bikes. The ones with custom paintwork and higher-range drivetrains. The grass is greener. . . .


You’ve seen the bicycle you want, and it is embedded in your brain. Only this bike can bring happiness. With it in your hands, your riding will improve.

You don’t just want it. You need it, to the point that you’re not entirely sure you’ll survive without it. It’s time to start edging towards making this new purchase a reality.


A hallmark of the 21st-century shopping experience is the paralysing indecision that comes after a couple of hours spent reading reviews of a product you thought you wanted.

For cyclists, the problem is much, much worse. Everyone will have an opinion on your potential purchase. One minute you will be feeling positive having read a lengthy, seemingly well-informed review. The next minute you’ll see multiple comments below it that destroy every positive point.

But if the GAS is strong with you, no amount of negative press can change your plan of action.


You know what you want, and you know what you’re willing to pay. You go to the shop that has the right bike in stock or can order one for you.

You begin the process of haggling with the guy behind the counter, but your heart isn’t really in it, and he knows it. He offers you an insignificant discount, and you take it because you are blinded by desire.

Plastic is waved. Your heart is close to bursting with joy. Inevitably, it won’t last…


For a week after you take delivery, the guilt ruins your enjoyment of your lovely new purchase. You can barely even look at your bicycle for the shame, so you hide it. Or claim that you just had it repainted.


You eventually stop feeling guilty. You rejoice! You finally own the bicycle of your dreams. The one you will take to your grave. Hooray! Except…


If the purchase was relatively small, expect to experience GAS again quite quickly. You’ll be reading new product reviews without even realising it.

A high-end bicycle? Well, you’ve probably brought yourself a year or two. Eventually, though, the sense of glory diminishes. You swear the bike feels heavier.

You remember a friend telling you about a new bike shop. You’ll drop in to buy inner tubes.

After all, what’s the worst that could happen?


I have Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I own three bicycles and multiple cycling accessories and tools.

However, I didn’t buy a new bike during the writing of this post.

About alchemyrider

I left Malaysia in 2008 as a non-cyclist. I am back home now with three road bikes and all the paraphernalia that goes with being addicted to cycling.

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