Saturday, September 19, 2009

I love to ride my new bicycle.

So, it was a little over a year ago that I started my bicycle experiment with a cheapie Wally World faux-mountain bike. I put a comfier saddle on it and a rear luggage rack and used it for quick local trips to the grocery or out for a bite to eat.

Over time, the disadvantages of the Wally World special became apparent. Oh, sure, the brakes and derailleurs needed constant adjustment, and the wheels were only true-ish, but neither of these were a real impediment in my local excursions (the longest grocery store round trip was barely two miles.) The big downside was that roomie had, and was rather proud of, a great big Giant Cypress hybrid, kitted out as an urban grocery-getter, complete with lights and fore-'n'-aft wicker baskets.

Bicycle excursions with my roommate tended to quickly turn into a dwindling view of her taillight as I fought fifty pounds of badly-aligned Chinese steel that always seemed to be balkily stuck in the wrong gear. It wasn't so much that I minded losing the Tour de Kroger, as it was that if I'd wanted to go riding alone, I would have done so. Growing dissatisfied with my current steed, I started shopping for a real bike.

The folks at The Bike Line in Broad Ripple were extremely friendly and helpful when I swung by one Saturday while out riding with Shootin' Buddy, and so when I was ready to buy I returned there.

I determined that I didn't need some exotic mountain bike, since the most challenging terrain I'd encounter on my daily rounds was the gravel alley or the front lawn. At the same time, since my runs to the store weren't being timed by anything more urgent than the thaw rate of a frozen pizza, I didn't need a high-speed road bike either. Not being particularly stylish, I skipped over the cruisers and went for a fairly generic entry-level hybrid; after a bit of tire-kicking I settled on a 20" Trek 7100. The guys at the shop were delighted to know that I was planning on using it as a general utility bike, and we quickly picked out a luggage rack and a quick-detach basket.

Wow. All the people who commented in that earlier post about how much happier I'd be with a decent bicycle weren't kidding; compared to my old bike, it's like night and day. Forget the light weight and low rolling resistance stuff; the shifters actually shift gears and the brakes produce something besides just a poignant desire to stop. (Although it's ironic that I'll probably burn less calories even though I ride a lot more; the old bike gave a workout, I'll say that for it.)

The other big difference between this bike and the old one is that all of a sudden, I'm kinda interested in bicycles. I spent the last day or so reading pretty much every bicycle-related article on Wikipedia, for instance. I need lights for this thing. A speedometer would be cool, too. And maybe another bike; you know, for exercise, with all the luggage-carrying stuff stripped off. I could even build one from the frame up, just the way I want it...


(PS: If any readers in Indy need a beater bike for short grocery store runs and the like, my old machine is free to a good home. Pass on the love, and all that.)

37 comments:

perlhaqr said...

You could always ride around on flats or adjust the brakes so they drag all the time if you're really all that worried about the calories you won't be spending... ;)

Caleb said...

You're taking to bicycles like you took to 1911s. Soon you'll be on "The TourLine.Com" defending reverse indexed calipers against the depredations of European shifters or some such.

og said...

I have a trek Navigator 200, which I like fine. I wish it came with fresh knees.

I got a little electronic speedo for it that unclips and becomes a pedometer. Never use it for that, but hey. Cheap, like twenty bucks.

I looked at a lot of the hub mounted generators and such for a light- you can get one that will keep a krypton bulb illuminated at low speeds- but they're spensive. I ended up with one of the type that had a handlebar mounted light and a battery that mounts in the water bottle cage. Bright LEDS and last a long time. I did some cycling in northern ontario where it was what can only be described as "deep dark". I could see pretty well and most of all others could see me.

Turk Turon said...

Good for you!

I replaced my aging Trek 720 with a Trek 3700 last month.

Ahhhh....

I have a rear rack that supports removable pannier bags. Also a front rack that supports 2 more. A guy on the web has a photo essay showing how he used two cheap plastic trash cans as panniers! He got em at Target for under $10.

Instead of a speedometer, consider a GPS. They're lots of fun if you get into long rides.

Enjoy!

Joe R. said...

These wishes can become " bicycle AR rails " if you don't watch what you're doing. Keep it lighter and don't put nothing that isn't needed or you want to peddle with...

Joe R.

Turk Turon said...

And Bianchi makes a decent all-leather IWB (with thumb-break) holster for 1911s! You might want to consider extra retention in case you take a spill on your new bike.

Sevesteen said...

Turk had me momentarily confused--my beater bike is an older, very modified Bianchi.

Whoever gets Tam's bike should put decent brake pads on at least the front wheel, makes a world of difference. Kool Stop salmon colored pads are the best I have found--the color is a side effect of the stuff used to make them work well, not a fashion statement.

Tam: Initial quality has very little to do with the final price of used road bikes except at bike stores. If you know the basics of what to look for, you can find really good bikes for $50-100 including all necessary repairs.

Brian Dale said...

Hey, Turk: and Bianchi also makes great racing bikes, when you're ready for....

Oh, wait. The other Bianchi. Never mind. {Drat! Sevesteen beat me to it}

I was a fairly entrenched bicycle gear queer back in the seventies and eighties, before I had the cash to indulge all of my bike-building fantasies. I just rode a low-end Raleigh road bike, but I had all kinds of parts specs memorized. I forgive myself for that, having always been a dork, and can at least justify it in my own mind by really having ridden a hell of a lot, for years.

Considerations such as shimano-vs-suntour-vs-"Hey, just buy Campy, then you know it'll work" were absolute parallels to gun discussions on the webz now, twenty years since my riding level dropped off (somebody ran over my last serious road bike while crashing her 280-Z).

Following on from Caleb's thought, I'd love to be in the audience the first time some self-styled know-it-all tries to buffalo you with something like derailleur esoterica. Bike parts snobs ain't got nothin' on gunnies, and the skills with which you've dealt with those folks (can I still say "folks" here?) are transferable.

Arrrrr!

krazmo said...

If you want to get lost in the bicycle related interwebs, I highly recommend the writings of the late, great Sheldon Brown:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/

Moriarty said...

...all of a sudden, I'm kinda interested in bicycles.

Oh no.

I'm sorry, Tam. Your condition is relentlessly progressive and there's no effective treatment, let alone a cure.

I was afraid this would happen. Bicycling and shooting have long been suspected to be comorbid conditions.

;)

Lorimor said...

I've had a Trek 7300 for a coupla years. Great little bike.

DirtCrashr said...

I think Xavier is the go-to gun/bike guy if you're going to build one.
I have a Kona Dew FS...

Joseph said...

It can be difficult to know what is good, until you have had something that is bad.

Profound thought for today!

savage24 said...

This place just keeps getting better! My other big interest is bicycling (specifically, rail trails and touring) and now my favorite gun blogger in the whole world is into bikes!

A few links you may enjoy:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

http://www.traillink.com/trailsearch.aspx

Joanna said...

Boy, I would love to get a fancy new bike, but until I have the scratch I guess Rusty The Trusty will have to do. Don't knock the Wal-Mart specials too hard. He gets me from point A to point B.

Montie said...

Tam,

I trust you checked out all of Xavier's writings on his urban biking experiences. Reading his blog prompted me to purchase a mint 1972 Schwinn Speedster off ebay (actually it is more of a general utility bike than the name "Speedster" would imply).

Like Roberta, I have outfitted it with baskets front and rear for those quick trips down to the local supermarket. I pretty much followed Xavier's choices for lighting and tires, and I couldn't be happier.

Tam said...

"I think Xavier is the go-to gun/bike guy if you're going to build one."

I've been relentlessly reading Xav's archives for the bike stuff. (But I was learning my preferences in 1911s back when he still thought USPs were the bomb diggity shizznit. :p )

Turk Turon said...

I agree with savage24: www.crazyguyonabike.com is good. He's the guy who made the panniers out of trash cans. AND he has a nice photo-essay of his bicycle-camping trip to False Cape State Park...nice place.

Bruce S. said...

I think you will enjoy your Trek. I have a circa 1989 Trek "mountain bike" that now wears street tires, a handlebar quick-release bag, and best of all, a genuine plastic milk crate for carrying all the essentials of life. The thing won't die. Now if we can just combine a shooting game with biking...

DirtCrashr said...

My brother is a bicycle fiend, a psycho-cycle terrorist who will corner you in a room full of people and unsparingly tell you ALL about his hand-built (from scavenged parts) Reynold's 531 '72 Motobecane-frame with brazed chrommolly headstocks and French carved double-butted bottom bracket, Mafac brakes and all-Campi running gear. Or something glazing along those lines. You can get him to enter a state of quasi suspended animation while arguing with himself over Columbus or Reynolds tubing. It's such an obsession he moved to Marin be closer to Mount Tamalpias where the Gods of Mountain Biking were born. For Christmas I get expensive scavenged parts of special brake components to upgrade my bike - ones that don't fit my bike.

1976 I rode a Schwinn Varsity iron pig uphill to College (both ways) and always envied the Bianchi riders who got the hot chicks. I put upright BMX bars on it because I didn't like having a kink in my neck, and a big bouncy Brooks saddle - and rode it across fields because that was the shortcut from the grocery store (or 7-11) where I filled my backpack with beer and refrigerator items for the house on High Street. You could do jumps with it - it was utilitarian but bulletproof - although I went through a few wheels on account of rough treatment. It weighed a ton.
I finally got a car in '81.

pdb said...

Now if we can just combine a shooting game with biking...

Weren't there some dudes out west that were trying to get a mountain biking biathlon league going?

savage24 said...

http://www.coloradobiathlon.org/forms/summer/info.pdf

Billll said...

The bike-n-shoot was probably more Tams speed. Mountain bike riding on the "gently rolling prairie East of Denver" followed by 5 shots on 6 in steel discs at 20 yards.3 laps of 2.6 miles each, and a 220 yard penalty lap for each pistol target you missed.

Course record was about 50 minutes. Ordinary mortals took about an hour. "riders" were those who rode OK but hit 40% or fewer of the targets. "shooters" were those tho hit 60% of the targets.

Lotta fun, while it lasted.

Mulliga said...

My sister has that exact model - great bike for beating around town.

Be careful about your front wheel and seat post - the quick release levers make them easy to steal. After losing two seatposts, I finally just gave up and installed a conventional fastener.

Anonymous said...

Don't give that old bike away, just motorize it with something from here (or any of the several other places that sell the 49cc kits): http://www.kingsmotorbikes.com/

I've got a couple buddies with these kits, they are a blast and actually run pretty damn good.

Then you can terrorize the neighborhood when you don't feel like peddling...

Jim said...

Bah, no one needs one of them newfangled, so called "safety bicycles." Passing fad, they'll never last, I tellya!

Why, a velocipede is the epitomoe of two wheeled elegance!

[/geezer] [/guncrank]


Jim
Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Unknown.Rodent said...

Nice Choice Tam. I have a 4 year old Trek 7100 than now has 9200 miles on it. You should get years for great riding out of your new steed.

In your list of "Things you have for the new bike" I notice you fail mention either a frame pump or CO2 pump and spare tube / bike bag. You might want to give some method of repairing a flat on the road some thought. When I first got my 7100 I learned the hard way after walking home 7 miles in 90 degree heat.

Enjoy your new wheels.

reflectoscope said...

The sport Billl mentions sounds like an awful lot of fun. Maybe make it stages with two bikes and two guns, right? A longer road stretch and a carbine shoot, and then a shorter off-road bit with a pistol shoot at the end. The possibilities are endless!

Jim

OrangeNeckInNY said...

You can't use the recoil from your .45 to slow down?

Matt G said...

I recall our friend Don Gwinn's words when he got his first Giant:
"This bike is so far beyond what I had, and I was right to buy it. I'm using gears I didn't have on the old bike, going far faster, and I've got nine more speeds above and below where I am, so as I get stronger I can still get much faster. It feels effortless, like flying, when I'm on the bike, but when I get off my legs are shaking from the exertion and I'm soaked. Perfect!"

I love that feeling.

jesperskibbey said...

Tam,

Congrats on your new bike!

Jay G said...

Bah. Gears and brakes. What's next? Safeties on handguns?

:)

Nice bike, Tam!

OrangeNeckInNY said...

One thing you should get, if it doesn't come with it already, is a front disc brake. The front wheel is usually the one that gets all banged up and twisted, in which case, the regular rubber-footed brakes won't work anymore. The disc would stay true regardless of the wheel shape.

Screaming Monkey said...

Great story... and I'm glad you saw the light. A lot of folks try to get into cycling on wal-mart wonders and soon park said wonder in garage. Forever... but be careful grasshopper... it's addictive...

p.s. maybe I'll see you on the Monon someday.

Xavier said...

Hi Tam!

Glad to hear you go a workable bike! Hard learned lesson eh? For lights, I recommend Planet Bike's stuff, which is available on amazon.com for relatively cheap. Remember if the cages can't see you, they can't avoid you. You can read about them and find links on this page.

I also heartily recommend Sheldon's stuff. He was The bike guru. His website is from the log cabin days of the internet, and kind of difficult to navigate, but the wisdom is golden. My sidebar will give you more good links.

If you ride in trashy places at night, unable to really see the broken glass in the road, get Specialized Armadillo tires. Seriously. They run around $45 each, but the first time you are walking with a flat in the badlands, you will wish you had sprung for them. I haven't had a flat since I put them on my commuter bike. Yes, I still ride it every day if I'm not on call. Easier parking.

Get a good modern Kryptonite lock. Not one that you can open with a Bic pen, and no cheapo crap locks. Consider the lock to be insurance against theft. In fact, Kryptonite will replace your bike if their lock fails. Bike thieves suck. Until you uglify your bike to the point nobody wants to touch it, you are at risk for thievery. A twelve year old can easily out pace you if he is on your bike and you are beating feet after him. I like the New York Noose. A U lock can't compare.

email me if you like.

Xavier

mts1 said...

I got my 7200 in 2003, and it's like a part of me, it works so well. Like I said before, the piston seat post will work like a dream - you won't even need a gel seat cover. You won't feel a bounce like you're probably used to with the beater. My only issue is that the shifter is fixed, meaning it clicks into a gear, so if it's a little off, you'll hear clickety clack all the while you pedal.

Get some slime liners for your tires, a good patch kit, a real tire lever (not a plastic one that'll rip off at the end while you're reinstalling a tire), a good light set, and you're golden. Here's some goodness:

http://www.nashbar.com/
http://www.performancebike.com/
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Port/2945/Traffic/TrafficSensors.htm
http://www.pricepoint.com/

Xavier is dead on about Kryptonite. Plus, the U-lock makes an excellent bludgeon, if the self-defense need arises.

jdberger said...

The well equipped geardo knows where to find smoking deals.

Try http://www.steepandcheap.com/ along with sister sites like http://www.chainlove.com and http://www.bonktown.com. Helmets, lights, shoes...you name it. Prices are very cheap.

Also, if you start collecting bikes (like any good geardo), look at the Gary Fisher series. Their lower end bikes like the Wahoo and Marlin are amazing.