Category: Commuter Bikes

When we were at Sea Otter, I saw that the Women’s Racing team for Gary Fisher were all using bar tape for grips. I imagine that they were doing it to save some weight. So I figured I’d try it out since I couldn’t find extra grips for my Redline 925. I even installed some Bontrager Buzz Kills.

I was talking to my buddy today about his bike. He had told me that he was experiencing some mechanical problems and considered parting out his bike. As I dug deeper, he was able to describe the problem. Basically his freewheel isn’t grabbing anymore. During the conversation he talked about buying one of my old road bikes from me. I reassured him that it wouldn’t cost more than $30 to fix the problem on his bike and recommend he go that route. But somehow I think he has it in his mind to buy a new/different bike instead.

Personally I would only replace bike if:

1. It was stolen.
2. If the frame cracked.

Otherwise, I’d fix things as they broke. What about you, when is your breaking point having to buy a new bike?

I took the day off from work today. This has been the first vacation day that I have used all year just for the sake of not going to the office. I did not have any travel plans, or anything on the agenda. My family had been talking about traveling for Christmas this year, so I planned ahead and was really conservative with the days I spent away from work all year. When I did take time off, it was used to travel back east to visit family and friends. I must say, it was nice to not be in the office on a Monday and just use the day to relax and get caught up on some reading and some writing.

After sleeping in and catching up on some errands around the house, I grabbed my laptop and coffee mug (that I use instead of a paper/styrofoam cups) and went to a coffee shop that sits right across the corner from a LBS called the Bike Barn. I had a cup of coffee and did some reading and writing. A pleasant afternoon. When I had satisfied my writing needs, I walked across the street to the Bike Barn (it really looks like a barn…) and grabbed a new set of tires for my road bike. I had gotten 2 flats in the past 2 weeks due to glass and rocks in the road.

When I started commuting on my road bike, I did not make any modifications, and have been riding on 700c x 23 racing tires. These have served me just fine and have not been too uncomfortable but they have about 1200 miles on them and are starting to get too many cuts. When I got to the Bike Barn I found a set of Specialized tires with “Flak Jacket protection” that is supposed to reduce the amount of punctures in the tires. I figure if I couple these with some slime tubes, I should be pretty flat-proof, at least for a while. I also got a slightly wider tire, 700c x 25 to give myself a bit of a smoother ride.

I spent the later part of the afternoon removing the old tires, cleaning my wheels, then mounting the new tires. Since I was in a “wrenching” mood, I figured I would go ahead and clean the rest of my bike. I do this pretty regularly, so “cleaning my bike” usually only requires a warm, damp rag to wipe off all the dirt and grit.

Now that I have a clean bike with brand spankin’ new tires and tubes, I am really looking forward to my ride to work tomorrow morning!

A couple weeks ago, my friend Davey called me and said that he was bringing a couple bikes down for me to use as projects — a fairly new Trek 4500 mountain bike that had been slightly damaged in a car accident, and my old faithful, a 1984 Trek 460 road bike.

The odd thing about the Trek road bike is that I’ve owned this bike FIVE times before…and it keeps coming back to me! Here’s the story so far:

I moved to Florida in 1992 with $70 in my pocket and my only possessions being a suitcase of clothing, a box of bike tools, a rusted-out International Scout and a 4-year-old Schwinn High Sierra mountain bike (in classic “smoked chrome”). Within the first year, that Schwinn was stolen out of my garage — I lived in a really bad neighborhood in Sarasota, and things had a way of disappearing around here unless they were within eyesight.

A coworker at the health food store I was working at told me he had an old Trek road bike that he’d sell me for $75.00. I really needed a bike to commute to work and to the beaches, so I jumped at the chance.

This is how the bike looked when it was new (from a page scan from the original Trek catalog):
Trek 460

When I got the bike, it was in virtually new condition — the paint was pristine, the decals and headtube badge were intact, and the components were in good shape. The bike had been somewhat clumsily converted into a 1×6 drivetrain when the previous owner lost the shift lever for the front derailleur.

This Trek is a bit unusual because it represents one of Trek’s first forays into foreign production. From 1984 until 1986, a factory in Japan produced several models for Trek. This is one of those Japanese babies…True Temper tubing, clean lugwork and all the bells and whistles one might expect from a midrange road bike.

I rode that bike for most of 1993…numerous trips to the beach, daily commuting to my crappy job, etc. One day at work, I found another bike in the dumpster behind our building, and I converted that one into a commuting machine. Since I didn’t really need that Trek anymore, I sold it to someone for $60. Six months later, that person sold it back to me for $25. Two months later I “leased” it to a friend who had just moved to Sarasota…he gave me $20. Five months later, he decided to move back to NYC so he gave the Trek back to me with $20 and some other incidentals. I sold it to someone else I worked with for $40, and bought it back for $25 about three months later. I just could NOT get this bike out of my life…until a couple years after that, when I cleaned the bike up, rebuilt some components and sold it to my friend Davey for $125.

That was six years ago, give or take a few months. Then the phone call a couple weeks ago…

Here’s how it looks right now:
The frame...

Years of neglect and a poorly-fitting headset locknut allowed sweat and rainwater into the fork, effectively freezing the stem into the steerer tube. The bottom bracket was shot — both bearings and cups were badly pitted. The wheels were shot. The handlebars had a hairline crack in them…and this bike had been repainted a couple times — painted right over the original decals and headtube badge. Ugh.

Don’t look if you’re squeamish:

The stomach-churning news...

I hacksawed the head off the stem and went to work with a 1/2″ drill bit, a hacksaw blade holder and assorted rasps and files to drill out the remainder of the stem’s quill. After literally 6 hours of drilling, cutting and filing, I was tapping out a large piece of aluminum when the steerer tube split right at the keyway, effectively ruining the original fork.

The dead fork:
dead fork

Over the next couple months, I will be rebuilding what’s left of this bike into a fast weekend commuter — stealth-mode all the way with a fixed/free singlespeed drivetrain. Stay tuned for all of that, and remember, if you have a bike with a quill stem, DON’T FORGET TO GREASE THAT QUILL from time to time, or you will be faced with some ugly surgery, too.

By the way, anyone got an old steel Trek fork laying around? You know, one with at least 180mm of steerer and at least 50mm of threads? If so, let me know and I’ll make it worth your while.