Archive for July, 2010

Cataloging bike collections

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

As I began accumulating bikes over the past four years or so, I decided I needed a system for cataloging my bikes.  Occasionally I’m asked by others who see my bikes to provide them with “build lists”– detailed accountings of every component make and model on the bike. With one or two bikes, this information isn’t difficult to remember, but once you amass a small fleet of bikes, it becomes difficult to keep track of your builds. In addition, I’ve been cataloging the dimensions and geometries of my bikes, as well, to closely compare them. The reason is that when I find a bike with a comfortable fit, I can look back at the “spec sheet” and try to understand what dimensions and angles are associated with that comfortable fit. I can use that information to alter another bike by adjusting stems, seatposts, handlebars, etc, so that it can more closely match the bike whose fit I want to reproduce.

Thus, I began creating spec sheets for each of my bikes. To do this, I simply created an Excel worksheet for each bike. To spruce things up and “personalize” each spec sheet for the bike it describes, I used Excel’s border and fill colors to approximate the color scheme of the bike. If you don’t have Excel, most any word processor has basic table functions that can do the same job. And, most programs allows you to export the tables in pdf or jpg formats for posting online.

Here’s an example:  My Raleigh Competition GS. This is the bike:

And this is the spec sheet (click on it for full-size):

Easy!  Of course, keeping a database isn’t only pertinent to bikes, nor is it particularly novel.  But for someone who likes to keep track of a bike collection, it’s a neat and visually pleasing way of doing it.