I was down at Recycle-a-bike last night, “helping.” Although I took their 4 week bike maintenance course, it did not magically turn me into a bike mechanic (I still don’t dig heavy metal). I was trying to do a little brake and derailleur adjustment on a department store bike – without much luck. I now know why most bike shops will refuse to work on a department store bike. The things use such crappy components that they are difficult to repair and can easily break – and what bike shop wants to take in someone’s bike just to break it some more? Recycle-a-bike, that who! Well, actually, they get all sorts of donated bikes and fix them up so they are once again in riding condition. Sometimes these are old Schwinns that have been sitting in a basement for decades, sometimes they are old Huffys that have been in a basement for 5 years. After realizing that my skills were no match for a 10 year old wal-mart bike, I tried to find another way to help. Right now, RAB is getting ready for a big bike sale. So I helped get bikes out from storage and prepare them for photographs. RAB stores their bikes with the pedals removed and turned around facing in (this allows them to stack bikes closer together in storage). So, now I know how to remove and re-attach pedals – pretty simple really. And I am one step closer to buying clipless pedals, because now I would be able to quickly swap them out for flat pedals. Oh man, just another step down the path to VSB land. If you are in the Providence area and want to pick up a bike for cheap, you should check out RAB’s big bike sale on Saturday, May 22.
On my way home from RAB, I was cruising along Promenade in the big ring when I down shifted on my approach to the ramp that goes up through the middle of Providence Place Mall (sidenote: believed to be the only bike path in America that goes underneath a mall, FWIW). Something didn’t feel right when I shifted. In fact, I was not able to shift back up to my middle or largest chainring! This left me rather limited in my gear selection. My ride home is always uphill, so it wasn’t too bad, but it was not fun riding down the hill into work this morning. I was either coasting or spinning, and I was cross-geared the whole time. I decided to swing by Legend Bicycle on my lunch break so I could at least drop it off and they could order whatever part was needed. I was dreading dropping off my bike in May – traditionally one of the busiest months for bike repairs. I believe it was Jack who took a quick look at it and realized that my front derailleur cable was attached incorrectly. He re-attached it and it was back to shifting like a dream. He also took the time to clean my chain – I had overlubed it the last time I cleaned it and it was accumulating dirt. Going to the bike shop sometimes feels like going to the dentist in that I know I should be doing a better job of cleaning my bike just like I know I should be flossing every day. Jack felt a little wobble in my cassette, so he took off the wheel to show me. It doesn’t look too serious, but it sounds like I may be buying a new hub or wheel in the next year. I was happy to pay the $5 minimum repair charge since I was expecting to replace the front shifter! I’m beginning to like Legend more and more. The maintenance part of the shop is pretty much right in the open. This may be a result of the fact that its such a tiny shop, but it gives the shop a very open feeling. The mechanics aren’t hidden away behind a counter, they’ll pull a bike stand right into the middle of the shop so you can see your bike while they work on it. Reminds me a restaurant with an open kitchen, but a little less noisy (except for the heavy metal).
While I was at the shop, I noticed a bike that Legend had posted on their website. It’s a Surly Steamroller, (Surly’s fixed-gear/singlespeed bike), except Legend had built it with a fixed 3-speed internal shifting hub. It’s a pretty sweet setup – a nice compromise between the simplicity of a fixie and the practicality of a 3-speed. I took it for a quick spin around the block. I’m not totally convinced, but it was kind of fun.
It was certainly more practical than this specimen I found in Harvard Square the other day:
The Mixte/Fixte is a nice look. Or at least unusual. That bike hitching post looks a little lonely though.
One last thing, for those of you who don’t read the Bike Snob, I’ll treat you to a quotation from today’s post:
Sure, “sharing the road” is an important issue, but […] it seems like the only way anybody seems able to frame any discussion of cycling is in terms of “drivers vs. cyclists,” or “cars vs. bikes.” Have we as Americans officially reached the point where we are no longer able to understand anything unless it is presented to us as a war, or as some “epic” struggle between the forces of good and evil? Is nobody aware of the fundamental irony that many of us drive and cycle and walk and use public transit and fly? […] Is it that hard to confront the fact that the real enemy is not the mode of transport but the idiot operating it? Do people become similarly heated over issues like “whisks vs. hand mixers?” Can I hope to one day live in a world in which people respect each-other’s humanity, and in which the helmeted driver of a convertible car waves to the helmetless Dutch bike rider, and the motorcyclist embraces the Rollerblader, and the hang-glider salutes the boater, and the newspapers of America stop fighting their inevitable death by trolling for comments in the form of recycled “car vs. bike” stories, and the sun shines on shared roads, and we all join together to feast on the “epic” burrito of compassion, and joy, and mutual respect, and, as Don Cornelius used to say, love, peace and soul?