Face it. Sometimes you don’t just want but you NEED a new bike. Unless your partner is understanding of your bike fetish, sometimes you may feel that you need to be a little “economical with the truth” in order to get your way. With this in mind, here is a list of wheezes and strategies that might just help you realise your need to part with the cash for the latest shiny object of desire. However, just bear in mind the words of the Bard, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”. The Devil didn’t make you do it. You will be lighting the blue touch paper all by yourself. Perhaps invest in a tin hat and asbestos suit for if it goes south, you’re in for a roasting!
1 – Set up a separate bank account so your main account shows no spend.
This takes a little bit of effort but is remarkably easy to do. Putting aside a few quid every month into a separate savings account is an easy way of building up a toy fund with no apparent impact on your normal monthly household income. Truth be told, how many people actually pore through their bank statements every month?
A standing order is easily lost in the mass of direct debits and payments to Aldi and Lidl and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb like a one off payment of £550 to Charlie the Bikemonger.
2 – Get your expenses paid into your fun account
So you have the separate savings account. Now is the time to get creative. Every time you incur reimbursable expenses at work, does the money just go back into your main account? If your expenses are large, this can be a hard one to talk your way out of but more modest sums are less likely to be missed.
The odd £50 here and there adds up very quickly and before you know it, you’ll be caressing that new set of carbon wheels you had been promising yourself.
3 – Private browsing is your friend
Now this is something of a double edged sword. Private browsing is marketed by the providers of search engines as the perfect way of concealing purchases for your partner for them. In reality, it is the preserve of grotty little internet users who have an unhealthy interest in ‘adult art’ and cyclists who have yet to work out that honesty is actually quite a good thing to have in a relationship these days.
If you want to hide both your bike related purchases and bike browsings from your partner, go ahead but don’t be surprised if you end up being regarded with suspicion when your PC has no search history on it despite you spending many hours on it, night after night.
4 – Never talk about buying bikes, just the need to replace bike parts
Bikes are big. Bikes are expensive. However, spending money to replace worn out or old parts is something that even non-cyclists can understand and perhaps even sympathise with. The more you ride your bike, the more parts will break or wear out. It’s not rocket science. The logic is irrefutable. Even the most hard line of non-cycling partners can be persuaded of the necessity to spend money to keep you on the road (or more properly, off road). This is a key tactic to be deployed by the stealth bike buyer which can be used to great effect in conjunction with the next top tip.
5 – Build a new bike by stealth, bit by bit
This is perhaps the quintessential tactic of the secretive bike buyer. Coming home with a brand new bike involves a level of confidence and tactical nous that very few will ever attain. However, buying a little at a time will not only spread the cost so as to go unnoticed but avoid that most awkward of questions “Is that a new bike you have bought?” <cue awkward silence>
The upside is that you are less likely to get caught, the downside being that by the time you have pulled all of the parts together, some will already be worn out and need replacing.
6 – The same colour conundrum
I have seen this tactic employed several times with varying degrees of success. There is something beautifully simple in the logic that your partner will not notice a new bike if it is the same colour as your old one. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, actually. Despite what you may think, your partner is not an idiot (save perhaps when it comes to their choice of partner) and even a newer version of the same bike will stand out to the non-cyclist like a sore thumb.
Of course, you could employ the tactic of pretending to have just washed and polished it as explanation of why it looks so clean. If you are really lucky, you might just get away with this. Alternatively, you could ride your new bike a couple of times in the gloop and filth of an English summer’s day and hope that your significant other is none the wiser. Just remember that whatever you do, don’t be too brazen about it. Going out on an Enduro gnarrpoon rig and coming home on a fat bike is perhaps pushing the envelope and your luck just a little bit too far!
7 – Have your online purchases sent to your work or a mail box
Now this one does actually work pretty well. With no bike related purchases coming through the post to your home, you will be off the radar and have bought yourself some breathing space. You can make your purchases secure in the knowledge that a brand new pair of RockShox forks aren’t going to blow your cover when Mr or Mrs DHL arrives at your door looking for your signature. For the bike buyer dipping their toe into the murky waters of deceit and dishonesty of the black ops purchase, this is the entry level tactic to employ.
However, it is not risk free. When you head out for a ride in your new helmet and shoes, have your response carefully prepared when you get the inevitable loaded question “Is that new? When did you get that?” These are not innocent questions! Think very carefully before you answer. Even a Jedi Master level practitioner of the art can come unstuck in the face of such pressure.
8 – Never bring home the packaging, receipts nor shop bags
These are probably the easiest schoolboy (and indeed, schoolgirl) errors that are made. Picture the scene. As a result of your devious cunning, you have successfully made a concealed purchase without suspicions being raised. Chapeau! You can practically taste victory. But wait. What is this? Is that a receipt from your Local Bike Shop of choice?
Oh and look, it even has your name and address on it indicating that you are a regular shopper at your favourite purveyor of all things bike. As the blood slowly drains from your face, you are faced with the dawning realisation that you are in fact an idiot who clearly wanted to be caught. In hindsight, you’ll wonder why you didn’t shred the receipt or dispose of the packaging and bag before getting home.
9 – Don’t leave out bike magazines or your iPad bookmarked with favourite bike sites
This one is another double edged sword. Your partner knows that you are a cyclist and has no doubt come to accept this as being part of what makes you you. It’s natural, healthy even, for you to indulge your passion by poring over the latest kit as you while away your time sitting on the porcelain throne (just remember to wash your hands) or plan your next adventure on your tablet of choice.
However, when it comes to planned purchases, try not to be too blatant about it. Marking a page in a magazine or bookmarking a potential online purchase is a one way ticket to awkward questionville. If you are going to try and deceive your partner, at least try and be subtle about it.
10 – Pretend that you are testing a bike on long term loan
This option has an elegant simplicity to it but is fraught with such danger that only the most advanced practitioner should even consider it. Unless you are a bike journo or in the industry, you are really playing with fire with this one. Let us assume that you rope in a mate as your ‘provider of the bike’. Immediately, two people are involved in the lie. At this point, I draw your attention to the old proverb ‘When two know, all know!’ If either of you are questioned, the lie can quickly spiral out of control as one says something slightly different from the other. The need to be singing from the same hymn sheet is crucial but with it comes the intense pressure when under cross examination. To be blunt, one of you will crumble at some point and your deception revealed. Save yourself the hassle and don’t do it in the first place.
11 – One in, one out
And so we come to the last throw of the dice. The one in, one out principle. Adopting this approach, you are hoping that your partner won’t really notice that your bike has suddenly morphed into something new and shiny from the old, battered war horse that you used to ride. Combining it with the ‘Keep it in the toy shed’ principle and you may be onto a ruse that actually has a chance of succeeding.
However, take this approach to its logical conclusion and consider telling your partner of your plan and you might just find that all the worry, hassle and stress of the concealed bike purchase could have been entirely avoided had you simply talked to them about it!
So there you have it. Top tips on how to make a stealth bike purchase. Go ahead and try them. Just don’t blame me when, to quote ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’, ‘the shit-eth doth hit-eth the fan’. Like all hair brained schemes, reality will come and bite you on the arse at some point. I’ll finish with my favourite quote from ‘The Force Awakens’ which pretty much sums up the reality facing any man (and let us be blunt, no woman is daft enough to try any of these things!) who tries to make a black ops purchase. ‘Listen big deal. You’ve got another problem. Women always figure out the truth. Always!’