A while ago I went to my local bike store for a new chain on the commuter. The shop assistant was taken aback by my request for a 10 speed chain, which was a view I had some sympathy with after having spent many years trundling up and down Edinburgh's hills on a fixed wheel. But it transpired that it wasn't the number of gears per se that was the issue, but rather that it was a touch extravagant in the cost and 'fancy' stakes for a bike serving the daily commute. I paid my money, not daring to mention that the drivetrain was not only so heavily geared, but also Campagnolo, and rode home thinking nothing more of it.
Nothing more, that is, until reminded of the exchange by a post on a cycling forum querying why your best bike wouldn't be your commuting bike.
We all do it. Refer to the bike that's saved for sunny days, dry roads, and joyous riding, as the 'best' bike. It's equipped with the best components our money can stretch to and it's lavished with every necessary attention. And it's then ridden about 20 times a year.
My commuter does 10 times that. Am I getting my priorities right? There goes ana rgument that parts will naturally wear out more quickly and therefore it's not worth spending huge amounts on them, but long before the law of diminishing returns comes into play there's surely a certain 'false economy' in residence? Better parts will work better, wear better, give you less time fretting in the bike shed. So it is with my commuter. The frame is a Planet-X Kaffenback, about the only part that could be called 'budget'.
But the components? Good without verging on ridiculous. From the aforementioned Campag drivertain (and perfectly functioning shifters and still-true wheels) to the Nitto bars. I personally wasn't content to have some clunky mess serving me every day, always on the verge of letting me down. Instead I put together something that despite a month of rain and minimal technical input; despite spending the day sharing a Sheffield stand; despite being loaded with a packed (equally exrtavagant but dependable) Carradice day after day to tackle the cobbles and the potholes of my commute; it simply outlasts it all.
Whether it's my 'best' bike depends on your definition, I've got a mountain bike that I haven't used in anger in 6 months that cost twice as much, and recently had a ridiculous amount spent on it for some hydraulic disc brakes. But the Kaff is the bike that gives me that cycling grin every single work day.
Which is about the best definition I've found yet for 'best'.