As manufacturers are always looking for the next new sub genre, I think one has evolved organically already. A S.T.A.R. has risen in the horizon, read on for my thoughts on this new bike.
S is for Sportive. This bike will be capable of handling any sportive that a rider can undertake. From the climbs of France to the rough roads of Flanders.
T is for Traveling. This is somewhere between long day rides and a 'credit card' light touring epics. The type of surface covered would include the regular asphalt and some 'green lanes' or 'dirt roads'.
A is for Audax or Allday. This bike needs to have that all day comfort, so no matter how far or how long you are out, the bike is an ally in your great escape. This could mean hidden away there may be some rack mounts and maybe the provision for mudguards.
R is for Race. No matter how much we look for all of the other attributes, the bikes handling should not be compromised. Aspiration wise we look to the peloton, but it may be races like Flanders rather than the Tour that provide the remit for the design ethos.
So what am I trying to say, or should I put it what is the question. For many the question is 'what if I only had one bike' or the question can be worded in other ways but the goal is the same, to find a bike that is as flexible as a gymnast and as reliable as mans best friend.
Currently there are bikes that would fit this bill, they may not be the most desireable, but they are probably closer to what most riders require to suit the different moods. The majority of these bikes are not going to be off the shelf, as this would represent a bold move for any manufacturer. But they will be put together with as much care and thought that 'the great bard' toiled over a sonnet.
Comfort will be a guardian to these bikes as the nature of the rides undertaken will border on the obsurd, and at other times heroic. The ride will be measured in time and not miles. A destination may be set, but plans may change, but the ethos remains 'enjoy your ride' and make it a treasure for your memory chest.
Lightweight but reliable will be watchwords for the build. The frame itself should blend comfort, stiffness and repairability. This lends itself to certain materials, steel, titanium and carbon (depending on construction) all fit the bill. The theme will continue across the bike as strong, lightweight and reliable (SLR) will be the guiding lights in the product choice. Unfortunately these components don't come with a lemonade price tag, but probably closer to the champagne end of the spectrum.
I doubt very much if this would be a first (or even a second or third) purchase bike for the road rider. In an almost religious experience you will need to have travelled on that road to come to a place where the question has to be asked in the first place. Normally it is the experience of life and in particular life on a bike that can bring you to this crossroads. So my quest is about to begin, where it will end or what the bike will look like in the end, as yet I do not know. This isn't a journey all will make or have to make, but my wheels are in motion.
Does this mean I'll end up with 'just one bike', I don't know, I doubt it but it may depend on how successful I am in my decision making.