Having largely completed Clara’s bike, I moved on to my bike. This is the bike I bought in High School, early 1980’s, from the bike shop that was at the edge of our neighborhood (The Bike Rack). It cost me about $300 at the time. I rode it all over during my High School year, or at least as far as I ranged back then. I wasn’t allowed to have a driver’s license until I was 18, so there wasn’t much driving for me in High School, though of course I did get rides from friends. Anyway, back to the bike. It got a lot of use in those years, and I brought it up to college with me, though with some trepidation given the reputation Cambridge had for bike theft. I didn’t use it a lot in those years, but when I needed to get off campus on my own, or even to the other end of campus, it was handy. One of my roommates borrowed it once, and the back wheel got stolen. He graciously replaced it, even before bringing the bike back, but that made me even more anxious about riding it. Or more precisely, parking it. I had a Citadel “u-lock” and the idea was you’d remove the front wheel and lock it up along with the back wheel and the frame to something sturdy. But what a pain, and you end up scratching up the fork ends.
After college, the bike saw even less use. And after getting married (or maybe it was just before), Susan and I bought snazzy new Specialized mountain bikes, which meant that the old bike really languished after that, sitting in basements, attics, and other random storage areas. I had a $10 price tag on it at a yard sale once, as it had gotten a little rusty in some parts, and someone offered me $5 for it. I hate yard sales. As if $10 wasn’t enough of a bargain. I couldn’t let it go for that, so it sat in the basement some more, but its presence there began to bug me. So a few years ago, I stripped it of all its parts, and began to strip the paint from the frame. It sat for another year or two, and last summer I got “inspired” to turn it into a single speed/fixed gear bike, and did a lot of research. The trickiest bit was getting a special rear hub that would allow some front-back adjustment of the cog (to tension the chain properly) even though the rear dropout was essentially vertical. I eventually bought a set of wheels on eBay where the rear wheel had this special White Industries Eccentric ENO hub. The pair of wheels, all built up, cost about a third less than the hub alone would have, brand new. Seemed like a good deal. But then it sat some more. Oh, and the new wheels are size 700c, while the old ones were 27″ so the conversion necessitates a longer reach brake.
This summer, we bought Clara an old road bike that she and I fixed up for her. Part of that job was having the frame painted (or more accurately, “powder coated”). I thought I could perhaps get a discount getting more than one frame done, so I got both frames ready. That didn’t turn out to be the case, and it turned out to be quite a bit more expensive than I’d hoped, but I’m very pleased with the end result. After essentially finishing her bike, I started on mine. I bought about half the parts via eBay, and others through a couple of online bike shops, and even some parts/tools from local shops. At this point, there remain but three original parts: the frame, the fork, and the seatpost binder bolt. After that, there are a few things I bought used: the wheels, the seatpost, and the saddle. Beyond that, everything on the bike is new. Which means the project cost more than it was worth, but it has been a fun and interesting project, and I learned a lot doing it. Plus, I still have my old bike and all the sentimental value that carries.
I rode it for the first time last Friday. I had it set up in fixed gear mode, but felt a little freaked out in that mode, so I switched it to single speed (by simply flipping the rear wheel around!) until I could get comfortable with the bike as a whole. Hope to make the switch and get some practice riding “fixie” soon. I expect it will take some time to get used to it.
Here’s a listing of most of the components:
Frame: 1981 Panasonic DX2000
Fork: original Tange
Rims: Mavic Open Sport
Rear Hub: White Industries Eccentric ENO
Front Hub: some Nashbar sealed bearing hub
Headset: Velo Orange Alloy Headset, in JIS size (not many choices in that size!)
Stem: Nitto Pearl 120mm
Handlebar: no-name Bullhorn style
Bar Tape: Arundel cork
Bottom Bracket: Tange sealed cartridge
Crankset: Sugino XD
Pedals: MKS Sylvan Prime Track Pedals
Toe Clips: MKS (NJS Stamped :-))
Brake: Tektro R536 Caliper
Brake Level: Tektro RX 4.1
Cross Lever: Cane Creek
Seatpost: SR Laprade
Saddle: Selle San Marco Island Ponza