Hobby gear and efficiency

I’m used to a little gatekeeping in my hobbies. Many of them involve gear and seem to draw people who get overly invested in the “right” gear. Maybe that is all hobbies. I don’t even think it is inherently bad. However, I have recently had a couple of discussions that started out in hobby terms but ended up in moral terms.

The argument started with the idea that by using older or non-optimized gear (or techniques) you were holding back the hobby. Since nothing being discussed was safety related and the hobbies were individual I didn’t see how that mattered. The counter wasn’t the usual idea that better gear leads to more enjoyment. Instead it was that growth – getting better, getting more efficient, doing more – was a moral imperative. That the statement “that is good enough for me” with regards to gear or the willingness to continue using some gear or methods because it was already owned (but now “older”) was grounds to assume that the speaker was mentally incompetent to exist in the modern world.

I’d write it off as being strongly worded for shock value (it was an online discussion after all) but it brings up a question I’ve often thought about. How much do you strive for efficiency and optimization in your life (ignoring work life for the most part)? For discussion purposes let’s assume that money isn’t the overriding issue but the idea of frugality is clearly part of the issue.

You lost me here. But I get your whole point. How does what one person does ‘hold back’ anyone else?

I have always wanted to weld, but the entry point has always been the price, for me at least.

Lots going on in your post but yeah. There are always people who are in to win with a hobby and those of us who are sane and just do things to the level we feel is appropriate.

Example: homebrewing. I can make a beer for about $34-45 bucks (5 gallons.) On my ~$250 system. There are $5-15K system people out there that chase consistency and efficiency to the Nth degree. Dude, I’m not a brewer, it’s a hobby FFS. Yeah, I hear ya.

Example 2: boating. Man, if any hoppy is a black hole of money, its anything involving boating. I enjoy boating. I do NOT enjoy 60K sunk cost on a boat. There is a TON of snobbery and exclusion around that hobby and really all I want to do is get out on the water, relax and drink with friends. Boating is electronics neutral. People put phones away and enjoy themselves, even me.

Who needs a high priced boat with a generator capability to last multiple days out of port, etc. Just get out FOR THE DAY. Relax. Save the 60K on a truck to pull a boat if you dont ever take it anywhere and pay 2k for storage. Jesus. So much money spent on boating.

I did sort of throw that in at the end - not the clearest part.

One of the conversations started because I was looking for a used bike. Everyone wanted to focus on $300+ used bikes. I’m sure they were terrific and I can afford them but they were way overkill since I just wanted to be able to ride 10-15km at a time running a few errands or enjoying a nice day. I didn’t want to pay for more bike than I desire and kept trying to turn the conversation to cheaper options.

I just want to enjoy my time. My time. Not too interested in what others think, and in fact endeavor not to see other humans when I’m out on my walks. Very relaxing. :D

(I will, however, look for tips and tricks to increase my enjoyment.)

Interesting thing to ask and discuss. Here’s where I’m at with my hobby:

I fly combat flight simulators. I didn’t for a while and only did regular gaming but when the Oculus rift hit the streets, I took up the hobby with a vengeance.

Now simulated flying very much is a gear-driven hobby. There are people building entire planes in their sheds.

There’s specialty gear costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars. There’s of course the need for ever more powerful computers to drive it.

Some people do it to lord it over the others (PvP). Not me. For me it’s all about the experience. Tearing down a valley in a mirage.

For me optimizing that was/is the goal. I have a second-hand high-end stick&throttle (a HOTAS warthog) that I have modded a bit and mounted on a home made stand. My pedals are crappy plastic and most definitely do not suffice and are up for replacement with a more precise, expensive metal unit.

Do I strive for ever more efficiency, being better and so? Not really. I’m not comparing my gear to others’ and thinking I need more, better. I do have some desires for better gear, but that’s to obtain a personal platonic ideal of flight for myself but overall I am really happy with my current set up.

It’s what I’ve been dreaming of for ages. Everytime I fire it up, strap in and put on the goggles I’m there. And I’m like a pig in the mud with my hobby.

If a hobby isn’t interesting when someone is at the most basic and cheapest “tier”, then does that hobby really deserve to “grow”?

I’d like to know more details about the original discussion. It sounds like you were talking to a used bike salesman :)

@Pod Not salesmen but people very committed to biking as exercise and lifestyle.Smoother shifting and lighter weight meant a lot to them and the concept of paying 20% as much to get 80% of the performance (numbers invented but not too far off) did not compute unless, perhaps, I was too poor to buy the better bike.

I think there are a couple of reasons I’m sensitive to this. One is that I like to dabble in many hobbies. @schurem’s set up is awesome but instead of going all in on one hobby like that I’ve tended to spread myself around more. I didn’t want to focus too much on money because in the end I’m not sure I spend any less I’m just spreading the resources over multiple hobbies.

The second, and the prompt for the thread, was a Redditt thread that leaned heavily into the idea that anyone who didn’t jump on the newer, better option was mentally disturbed. At best, it was said to be a form of hoarding. At worst it showed that they were irrational. The idea is interesting to me because I often seem to fall at a different point on the curve of diminishing returns that others (see the bike example) in hobbies. I generally think of this as a very rational response. @Skipper’s idea about homebrewing matches my attitude fairly well. At work I like to be efficient but the journey is part of the fun in my hobbies. Sometimes doing it the older or less efficient way has its own joys (I often find this in food related hobbies)

If you want to try out road biking I would recommend buying a single-speed bike and adjust the gearing depending on how many hills you have nearby. It is kind of like a gokart for bikes because you will get the most efficient riding experience for the cheapest investment. Plus the drivetrain is so simple that you can replace most parts yourself.

Sometimes you need to make an initial investment to find out if you even like a hobby or not but I think the majority of bike “hobbyists” would find it sad if someone bought a tubeless carbon road bike with disc brakes and electronic shifters (most ridiculous expensive setup I can think of) and it was just stored in a garage somewhere because the owner found out that he hated to bike.

Some people would probably argue that other gamers are “holding back” PC gaming by using the Epic Games Store, consoles or Stadia but things change and sometimes you get unexpected benefits like standardized universal analog controllers etc. I guess people can get very opinionated about hobbies just because they are hobbies they have invested in but usually ignoring them works if you give yourself the time to find out what you find enjoyment in.

IMO, if it’s a hobby the point is that you will spend time on learning about it because you like to not because you want to be “cool”. Many people are insecure and will always try to find ways to justify their time/money invested in pointless things to make themselves look better because it’s human nature I guess.

I’ve been giving some thought to getting both a 3d printer and a laser cutter. I am really into model trains and board games. I’d use the 3d printer for train stuff, and miniatures. The laser cutter to make my own board game inserts and again, some train stuff.

Model Railroading itself isn’t a cheap hobby. Most locomotives I get run $250. The layout I run on uses DCC (a way of powering trains that’s different than just using a normal throttle) and the chips required drive the costs way uo.

Haha cyclists are crazy.

Every Sunday hobbyist needs a 1500$ bike now.

I think I’m the last person on Earth who can ride a bike without the full lycra spandex outfit.

A $1,500 bike is a cheap bike. It is. At least it is in terms of road bike and mountain bike recreational riders in the USA and Canada. What can we say? We’re spoiled, and it’s a healthy hobby!

I kind of agree with $300 as a reasonable minimum. For that you could probably get a used aluminum bike with Shimano components. Of course cheaper bikes might be just fine, too.


I feel tempted to post pix of my bike again. I bought it for ten euro and put the rear wheel of my old one in. It is a glorious machine.


A hobby shouldn’t be more than you’re willing to invest in it - that’s the whole point.

Don’t buy a camera that takes you longer to figure out how to use it than using it.

Don’t buy a boat or RV just to use it once every couple of years.

Don’t buy a garage full of expensive bikes just to use them for a season and then let them gather dust.

Only you know when something is worth it or not - but don’t over-invest in a potential hobby just because people think it’s pointless otherwise. I might like wanting to take pilot’s lessons, but that doesn’t mean im compelled to buy a turboprop twin or GTFO.

And don’t listen to people that think you have to commit to learning extremely complicated systems just to get started. Do it, perhaps, once you decide to go further in X. But don’t think you have to start there.

My computer is old, my phone is a cheap sub-$100 Moto, and my wifi is still 802.11b/g. So my e-peen is small.

But a light good quality aluminum bike is so much more wonderful than whatever crap you get at Walmart.

My rule of thumb also is to buy the best thing at the core features you can get for a price range, not something that does the most things but poorly at all of them

Don’t buy a first gen VR system and let it gather dust.

Shut up.

$1,500 is a cheap bike? I bought a Specialized commuter bike new for $550, discounted from $700 for being the previous year’s colors. It feels so nice to ride and I haven’t done anything else but attach a pump and a light to the frame. If the frame is aluminum and it shifts correctly and has disc brakes, what am I missing?

This is insane and exactly what I’m talking about.

What advantage does a $1500 bike have over a $250 bike? It is lighter and has nicer shifting. If I knew I wanted to ride fast, far, or over big hills I might care. The problem is that I don’t want to do that. I want to ride 10km round trips at a speed that is faster then the local old men (on bikes) but slower than the people in spandex. I want to get out in the air when the thought occurs but I don’t want to worry about things if I don’t ride for a couple of weeks.

Or, in other words…

Exactly, so you are on the same page! I want to ride fast, far, and I aim for the biggest hills I can find.