Another Bike: My usual ride is a Trek racing/sport bike, with fancy shifters up front on the brakes, and really snappy handling. But, sometimes I really don’t care about going fast, and just want a bike to haul a gallon of milk, a can of paint, a 6-pack of beer, or 20 pounds of groceries – from around the neighborhood, or across town. Or, I want to sit up and enjoy the scenery on a long ride, or ride in work clothes without hunching too much. And, I want to ride in the rain and leave it tied up on the street without worrying too much.
So, I started thinking about an inexpensive, older bike. I picked up an old touring bike advertised on the forum, and it became my “project bike” for week. Because it is a “workhorse” bike, the bike’s name is now Clyde.
Clyde’s History: It’s a 1985 Cannondale ST500, making it an old touring bike almost as old as I am. The former owner had bought it for $350 in 1985 with money from doing yard work, built the wheels by hand, has ridden it across the country three times, and put nearly 30,000 miles on it. According to the owner, “the only original parts are the hubs; stem; front derailleur; cranks and chainrings.” The great thing about used bikes is their history and good karma.
Improvements: I wanted to use the project as a way to learn a bit more about bike maintenance (previous knowledge consisted of changing a flat, and raising a seat). With Google’s help, I cleaned everything out, took apart the wheels, spread new rim tape, trued the wheels, replaced the tubes, installed new seat and post (an adventure that involved sawing off 4″ of seatpost), Reel Lights on the axles, security bolts, water bottle cage, lights, SKS fenders, grocery panniers, and of course a bell and a GoDCGo strap. Pedalite pedals are on their way. In the end I took it to BicycleSpace to check my work, and for some professional help.
Clyde’s rear wheel is dishless, meaning that the spokes are all of equal length and angle, and the axles are sealed internal bearing hubs, which the pros tell me is good. Paint is chipping, but hey it’s character. Wheelbase is wide, so it rides like a Mac truck. Shifters are all the way down on the drop bar and “friction,” which I’m still getting the hang of. Continuous shifting is flexible, but hard to adjust quickly in urban cycling.
My first commute to work was slow and terribly inelegant as I ground the gears, slipped off the pedals, and learned how to shift. But, things are improving and I’ve now put a few hundred miles on it.