Quoth Mr. Lockley,
"After finishing this heart-felt appeal to the CR Listers I think I shall have to go and lie down to consider matters further. Are there any psychologists among the CR members who could offer me some free counselling....PLEASE"
This is like asking for help with a drug problem at a crack house. Sure, there will be plenty of folk who can relate, with a depth of knowledge and acuity of perception, but most of us are in the same trouble, and probably will be more helpful with advice on how to conceal our nefarious doings from our spouses.
Here's my alibi.
I justify the acquisition of cool bikes as a lot cheaper and safer than drugs, cars and mistresses.
I need a corner of my mind involved with something I love and can obsess about, whose scope is clearly defined. This helps maintain a necessary illusion of control: comfort in a life where so much seems to depend on luck or the caprices of idiots.
That bikes are fascinating and often beautiful is important, but not the main thing that makes them attractive. I am not alone in realizing my involvement with bikes as a kid was pivotal. My bicycle was freedom, mobility and autonomy. Other people have the same feelings about their first car, but for me it was bikes. (I believe a lot of us on this list feel the same way. Being more intelligent than most, we needed to feel independent earlier in our lives, before driver's license age.) Now, in my sixth decade of life, with my children largely launched, being bored and somewhat at sea, I have turned back to the machine that meant so much to me as a child. It is obsessive, sometimes distracting me from more important business, but I believe it does far more good than harm. No small part of its attraction is finding like-minded folk such as yourself: witty and knowledgeable, opinionated and engaging. This helps me keep faith in the goodness of people and the value of good writing, aesthetic appreciation and shared knowledge. Important stuff!
Practical advice: You ask for help deciding what to do. You are already in negotiation, apparently. In situations like this, I ask myself which regret I'd rather suffer: Buyer's Remorse or What I Might Have Had. I hate blowing an opportunity (I still cringe when I think of some things I've passed up), so I'd work toward buying them. Spousal disapproval is a big factor, of course. Clearly, your problem (like mine) is that you don't have enough bikes. If you did, she'd never notice a new one (or three). --
114 Pearl Street
Mount Vernon, NY 10550