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The One That Got Away: Bikes We Wish We Hadn’t Sold

Ride long enough and you'll have at least one special bicycle that you wish you'd held onto. With the wisdom of hindsight, you kick yourself for giving up that bike you learned to race aboard or took on an epic journey. Here are a few of those stories.

Written by: Spencer Powlison

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On my powder-blue Peugeot BMX bike with white mag wheels, I learned to do basic flatland tricks in my driveway. On my green Rockhopper I rode my first 50-mile mountain bike race. On my gold Voodoo, I raced all over New England as a junior. On my red Yeti, I got throttled in my first season of XC racing in Colorado. 

I have a very long list of bikes that I rode, I loved, and then I sold or gave away. At times, I've missed them all, regretted letting them go. I figured a lot of other cycling fanatics here at The Pro's Closet had similar stories to tell. So, I sat down with a few of my teammates to hear about the most memorable bikes they've owned that they wish they hadn't sold or given away.

Do you remember a bike that you loved, lost, and now wish you still had? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Matt, Chief Marketing Officer: 1983 Lotus Legend Compe

Lotus bike

“I was living in Durango, going to school, and I got into racing mountain bikes. There was a guy there, Hal McLane, who owned the Southwest Sound record store. He was this huge, bigger-than-life guy, and he got me big into road bikes. A friend of mine, his parents owned a bike shop in Aspen and they were friends with the Grewals. He had this bike and they never rode it, and I got it for a song — $300, $400 or something like that — and I got it with Alexi Grewal’s Panasonic jersey.

“That was the first bike that I raced. I did the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic on it. There was one time at that race when I was riding the Cat. 4 race, we started at seven in the morning — bitter cold. The guy in front of me over-braked and locked up his wheels. We both went down. The train was coming up the valley, the narrow-gauge railroad that you race. We were chasing, chasing, chasing. I went for it. I still break out in sweats thinking about it. It was so close that the guy who crashed us, who was behind me, he slammed on the brakes. He wouldn’t do it. I went over the tracks, and I could see the conductor freaking out, pulling the horn. I made it by, caught on, and I think I got fourth or fifth.

“I could kick myself, I would love to still have that bike. But I fell in love with a Ciocc frame that was total early nineties fluorescent faded paint job. I wanted that frame so bad, and I thought that I had to get rid of that simple Lotus it was just plain gold. I sold it to a friend of a girl I was dating who had never ridden before after I’d stitched up the leather handlebar tape, brand-new, shiny white. It was awesome.”

Chris, Bicycle Technician: 1989 Schwinn Le Tour

“I was living in Iowa City where I went to school, and I realized I should get a bike to get around. It was my buddy’s bike. It was way too big for me, he was like three inches taller than me, but he gave me a screaming deal on it, he sold it to me for $75. For what I was looking for it was absolutely perfect and I rode the hell out of it and learned to love riding a bike.

“It was bright red, a bit big for me, which you could tell by looking at the head tube and seatpost. It had chrome trim, chrome bars and stem, and fork. Really robust tri-cross road wheels, classy looking. Down tube shifters, 2x5 gearing. I had a sweet brown Centurion saddle. I remember learning that Lance Armstrong rode those at one point — I was proud of that saddle.

“I rode it into town one time to meet with a guy who would eventually hire me to do sales at Dimond Bikes. I rode into town from a suburb, North Liberty. I think I thought it would be impressive to him if I rode my bike to the meeting. It was probably a 30-mile ride, and it was February or March, which is not pleasant in Iowa. And I got the job.

“I donated the bike to Community Cycles, so hopefully it’s still rolling.”

Nick, CEO: 1993 Raleigh John Tomac Signature

Raleigh Tomac bike

“This was specifically a test bike for Mountain Bike Action. The bike is special for multiple reasons. It was the next evolution of the carbon Yeti C-26, where they had the carbon bonded tubing for the first time. Tomac rode for Yeti on that C-26 with the drop-bars that Zap [Mountain Bike Action’s editor at that time, Zapata Espinoza] also has … That is a whole nother story.

“So Zap called me about this Tomac Raleigh that Litespeed made, and this was rare because it has the green decals. Any time he calls my ears perk up because his taste and his passion for the history is impeccable, and he knew everybody. We bought the bike from Zap, and it needed a significant restoration, but it was really rare, one of only a few Tomac Raleighs made by Litespeed with the green decals.

“We bought it, and then the business had to raise capital, and sometimes the museum bikes are the first thing to go. At this time we didn’t have any investors behind us, we were self-funded. That bike was low-hanging fruit and really easy to sell. It was a restoration project that required a lot of time, which I didn’t have, and it was a bike I’ll probably never see again because it’s so rare.

“The combination of Tomac, who was my childhood hero, and the connection with Zap, and then the Mountain Bike Action connection made that bike really special.”

Jeff, Merchandise Associate: 1967 Huffy Rail

“It was a bike to cruise around town on. I used it on my paper route in Manchester, Connecticut. It was just such a cool bike, it had this purple color that just popped. Everybody in the neighborhood was in envy of it. Probably my other favorite part was the shifter that was in the center on the top tube.

“I was delivering papers every day. In total, I had five paper routes. Not all on this bike, but definitely for a few years. Getting to ride to school on it was also cool. My mom didn’t let me do it every day because she was nervous, she was an X-Ray technician at the time.

“I think something broke on it, it might have been the shifting. I remember it was kind of in parts, and I don’t know what happened to it after that. I keep asking my dad about it, and he doesn’t remember. If I could find one, it would be kind of cool to bring back some memories of riding around when I was young.”

Uriah, Shipping Coordinator: 1998 GT Attack

GT bike

“I found a guy in Denver who was selling this really cheap, I think a couple hundred bucks. I also had an Avalanche, and I remember having an early GT BMX bike. The Triple Triangle frame is classic — that plus the candy red paint, and I was sold.

“I was working for Jimmy John’s at the time. It was my courier bike, and I just did everything on it. Eventually, it was the bike I took on a bike tour from Seattle to San Francisco. Totally ill-equipped, aluminum frame, no braze-on mounts. I had C-clamps for all the racks, which broke pretty quickly.

“Near Ukiah, California, my rack totally gave out, all our stuff was flopping out, and this guy we’d been riding with for a few days saved me. He nonchalantly dug around in his bag and found the right diameter bolt to fix it. He’s actually still a friend to this day. That’s the magic of bike touring. Things work out even if it is a little sketchy at times.

“I think I was just in a mindset of downsizing the stable, and I had a friend who was working at Jimmy John’s who really wanted it. So I let it go and found out a few months later that it had been stolen. It was a gorgeous bike. Not a lot of them and just that iconic geometry that people, including myself, go crazy for.”

Lucas, Customer Experience Representative: Trek Domane Koppenberg

Trek bike

“For about 32 days in early summer 2016 I rode through Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and then Colorado on this non-touring bike. It was a high-end Trek Domane with zero mounts. So I put a trailer on it, and I hauled this trailer — it worked!

“I got chased by some dogs in Kentucky. It was definitely way too nice of a bike for a bike tour, but the Domane was good. It was a good experience.

“After the trip, I flew back to Virginia and I left my bike in Boulder and drove out with all of my stuff to move out here. I rode it and raced it for another year, and then I sold it to The Pro’s Closet before I started working here.

“It was rough, I was kind of sad moving on from it, because I’d ridden that bike more than any and done something cool on it. I got some cash to get another bike, another Trek Domane.”

Spencer, Content Marketing Manager: 1999 Voodoo Bizango

Voodoo bike

“In high school, I worked at a bike shop, and then I took all the money I made and I spent it at the bike shop. This Voodoo and its components were some of my biggest spends. It was a steel Reynolds 853 frame. I built those Chris King hubs into the matching mango-powder coated Velocity rims. And of course, the King headset was mango too.

“I did tons of junior cross-country races on that bike, brutal races like the Mount Snow and Snowshoe NORBA national races. It’s crazy to think back on racing that hardtail with a noodly 80mm-travel RockShox SID with tubed tires pumped up to 40psi. All those XC races were rough and muddy back in New England — Coyote Hill, Meadow Muffin Madness, Plattekill, and anything down in Pennsylvania. Just brutal terrain.

“Eventually, I made this bike into a singlespeed and as time went on and I moved to Colorado, I found myself riding it less often. I can’t remember if I gave it to a friend or sold it for a song, but either way, I regret letting it go, especially because it had some old-school Cook Bros. cranks on it, which are so iconic.”

Do you remember a bike that you loved, lost, and now wish you still had? Tell us about it in the comments below.