Ongoing issues with my mountainbike have me rationalizing getting a new one. Collapsed economy notwithstanding, me wantz new bikey.

The entry-level, full-suspension Ibex Apogee that I purchased in 2004 online served me well enough through the two years that ensued. But I haven’t put tread to trail since some time in 2006 and hell, I’m pretty sure the last time I rode it was the day of my 42 birthday that same year when in Death Valley we went on a 17-mile, on-road downhill from the 8,200-foot elevation of Mahogany Flat campground all the way to the Panamint Valley floor.

What a rush that was.

But the fact of the matter was and is I’ve learned from the Apogee that I’m just not in need of a full suspension bike. For the low-skill, slow-go way that I ride dirt, — both uphill and down — I just don’t need all that technology. In fact, if my beloved bare-bones 1990 GT Timberline hadn’t been stolen in 1998  I’d probably still be riding it and entirely happy. But instead after it dissapeared from its place locked up in the back of my truck inside the apartment’s secured parking (leading me to believe it was an inside job by some fellow tenant douchewad) I replaced it with a front-suspension Raleigh that I rarely felt comfortable on, and after selling that to a friend, I bought into the front and rear shock-absorbing hype and got the Ibex.

Not that there weren’t good times between us:

The troubles mentioned up top have to do with the gap in space that exists between the steertube of the replacement forks I put on in 2006, and the head tube of the frame — there’s just too much disconcerting wobble and bobble no matter how hard I try to batten everything down. Having donated the original forks to the Bicycle Kitchen there’s no going back to them. And sure, I could replace the replacement forks with ones that properly fit or get the bike in the hands of a perfeshunal who can properly diagnose a cure, but that’s still going to leave me riding a bike that has more engineering than I want or need.

In short, it’s time to put the Apogee out to pasture, or in this case the storage space under the porch (or donated to the Bike Kitchen), and of course that leaves me wanting a new ride and looking longingly at the following low/mid levels of the Motobecane brand’s mountain bike spectrum as seen on bikesdirect.com (the same outfit where I got Le Noir,  my presently incapacitated but otherwise marvelous Mercier Kilo TT track bike last January):

The first is reeeeeeally bare bones: A 29-inch wheel hard-tailed, hard-nosed singlespeeder called the Outcast:

Don’t she look sa-weet? Of course the trouble is the $400 pricetag is a tough swallow and the old-school solitary gearing with a 44-tooth chainring up front and an 18-tooth cog in back might prove an ordeal getting her upwards. But there’s something appealing in all its striped down basicality that purely pits rider against rise. And should the mountain prevail, a smaller chainring isn’t a hard swap to make.

But then there’s this $299 dame also on the nothing-fancy side with standard 26-inch wheels entry-level gears ‘n brakes ‘n stuff:

The price is certainly right, and again for the type of off-roading I do I’m sure she’d suit me quite nicely. But if I do decide to step it up a level or two and open the wallet a little wider, I’ll be looking twice and thrice at this more glorious gal:

At $600 she’d be the most I’ve ever spent on a bike — not counting the $900 Klein I impulse bought off the rack at Costco in the early/mid ’90s that I returned a couple days later when first I came to my senses and  second the thing started falling apart because, well… I bought it at Costco and it was probably assembled by a guy whose normal job was fork lift operator.

So we’ll see what happens. Either I’ll be prudent and put off the purchase, or I’ll commit to a new dirt bike, which of course means I’ll have to get out and ride it gee darn.