Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Having Flashbacks

I was reading Dave Moulton's Bike Blog the other day when I was hit smack in the forehead by a hazy memory which I thought was gone for good. In his post "Is it time to re-think the derailleur?" he throws out a few different concepts at the end, including "fixed rear sprockets, and a chainwheel that freewheels, gears could be shifted while coasting." To which I said to myself "hey, thats how my old Schwinn Varsity worked." I remember very little about the specifics of this bike, as I was content to just ride it and in the time period in which I did ride it, I never had any problems with it. At least non that I, a tween ager at the time really cared to tackle. I knew that one lever made the front go "rattlerattlerattlerattlerattle" until I pushed it far enough, at which time it was harder to pedal but I went faster. The other lever made the back go "ticketa-ticketa-ticketa-ticketa-clack" four times with a similar result- and the chain always moved when the bike was moving.

Back to Mr Moulton's blog, the ensuing comments suggested that I hadn't just made that last detail about the constant motion of the chain up. In fact it had an oddball system called "front freewheel system" which guaranteed a new bike purchase or ex(t/p)ensive upgrades if anything ever broke. I did a little digging out of curoiusity and found that the system was also quite heavy, which confirms what I remember about the old bike. Isn't technology great.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Goodbye

I hold in my hand an old treasure. My WTB SST saddle has accompanied me on countless blissful singletrack miles, and dozens of morning and evening commutes. It has always done what a saddle does very well. It's light. It's comfortable, yet narrow enough to slide back off of when the trail suddenly drops downward. You might even say that the nose is the perfect shape for an "almost seated" climb when the trail points back to the sky. Its chromoly rails stood up to years of the worst pounding my 200+ self could dish out. Alas, thousands upon thousands of pedal strokes have worn the covering material (leather?) thin, and the softer under layers now quickly make black streaks on any pants that come into contact with it. Rather embarassing. It will be missed. Perhaps a handsome corduroy replacement cover would look nice.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bike Lust

The transformation of my twenty year old sport bike to a sensible commuter machine has begun. It is now sporting a dapper new shiny black set of Freddie Fenders to keep the splashes down. My first thought was "yeah, that will work." Then I found myself compulsively wiping smudges and fingerprints from the glossy new fenders. With those clean, I found myself powerless to stop picking up a cloth to clean the years of crud from the black metal-flake paint on the frame, now very dull by comparison. Next, still unable to stop myself, I saw my own hands reaching for the wax and carefully applying a nice coat from front to back. As much as I love my mountain bikes, I have never felt drawn to fuss over them in this way. I guess road bikes are just sexier.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New to Me

I'm really looking forward to this spring. Mostly I'll be happy when the daylight lasts long enough for me to start riding to work again. Why? I'm itching to get back on my bike and resume riding to work. This is especially true due to my new bike. I can't really call it new, because it's actually around 20 years old, but it's an honest-to-goodness road bike. It needs a little freshening up, but to my crude mountain biker sensibilities it feels lightning quick. My plan is to make it a full time commuter bike. Nothing fancy, but hopefully I can pull off "racy but not uncomfortable", "practical but not boring" and "cheap but not dumpy" all on the same bike. Right now, the intended setup is fairly close to its 12 speed "sport" setup, with drop bars, 27 x 1-1/4 tires, etc. Which I will leave intact for now. However, I plan to install full fenders, a rear rack, and am considering replacing the 12 speed derailleur setup with a 3 speed internally geared setup. I think a Sturmey Archer AW geared in the mid 70" range would suit me nicely if I can get my hands on one. I've been curb shopping lately for old cruiser bikes in the trash, so we'll see. I understand these hubs are pretty indestructable.