A Curious Desire

It would seem that, just about every spring, I find myself yearning for a stately upright-riding kind of bike to take on what the inimitable Tim Smith calls a “bike walk.”

Evidently, commingled with my zippy Roadie blood is a solid dose of the pragmatic Utility Cyclist strain (though not, I now realize, so much as a drop of the Retrogrouch — as much as I can appreciate the beauty of a good Retrogrouchy setup, I am too much a fan of the stiffness of aluminum and the convenience of modern shifting to really swing that way). On days like today, some part of me really relishes the idea of being able to sit up straight on a bike designed for doing exactly that and perhaps even putter along at a gentlemanly amble.

This isn’t to say that the Tricross, for example, is necessarily opposed to ambling. I suspect that, for the right rider, the Tricross would be very happy to be an ambly-rambly beast (as opposed, for example, to the Fearsome Fuji, which opposes all efforts to ride in a fashion that could be described as “sensible” and “utilitarian”), and I do think that if I was forced to own only one bike, the Tricross would be a fantastic choice.

Rather, the whole point is that there’s a different feel to an upright, flat-bar bike; the kind of bike on which one is never tempted to get into the drops and hammer, because there are no drops in the first place. The kind on which one might clamp a slightly swept-back bar and occasionally (Heaven forfend!) hang a basket. I might even (GASP!) countenance a triple on such a bike, to provide some extra-low gearing for towing stuff around in the trailer.

In a perfect world, it would also sport a pair of Avid BB7s, since I’ve found that I quite like disc brakes for commuting. Unobstructed wheel clearance stopping power in wet conditions are good things, and having the BB7s on there would mean I wouldn’t have to keep a bunch of different varieties of brake pads and rotors on hand. There’s also much to be said, though, for good, old-fashioned V-brakes: in short, they work pretty well, you can find parts for them everywhere, and they’re really, really easy to maintain.

I realize that I might be able to buy a used wheelset, pop it on my neglected green GT, and haul it to a bike shop to get its bottom bracket replaced … or at least lure someone who has done that at least once to my garage with promises of pizza and/or beer in hopes of receiving some guidance in exchange. BB replacement is still one job I’ve never done. To complicate matters, though, I’m not entirely sure that getting that bike in working order will be any less expensive than replacing it, which largely depends on how inexpensively I can secure replacement parts. Of course, it’s also possible that the frame in question is rusty on the inside, or whatever. I really need to pop it on the stand, take it apart, and see what’s what.

Regardless, I do need to a “backup bike” capable of handling my commute. It doesn’t need to be as fast as my beloved Tricross, but it absolutely must be capable of carrying a rack. The Fearsome Fuji is built for carrying a rider and, at most, a little seatpost and/or bar bag. The Folding Fuji is too heavy to be really pragmatic as a commuting machine — I am not sure I could lift it onto and off of the racks on the bus, loaded with schoolbooks, without destroying my slowly-improving shoulder.

For the moment, I’ll just have to keep percolating this particular fantasy. It’s ultimately a flavor of the ubiquitous n+1 rule. I have two excellent bikes, access to a heavy-but-fun mountain bike, and one nonfunctional bike already. It would be nice to have one more in the stable, but I would be lying if I claimed that I couldn’t live without it.

For now, I’ll just keep dreaming about tooling around on some genteel-looking flat-bar machine.

That’s it for today.

Keep the rubber side down.

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About asher

Me in a nutshell: Blissfully married, ballet-and-bicyle-obsessed gay intersexed boy. Half-baked dancer. Mediocre gravel racer. Learning to live with bipolar disorder. Indiana University Southeast psychology senior (go Grenadiers!). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2013/05/17, in bikes. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dude. Scour Craigslist for an 80s or 90s rigid MTB. Pretty much all you’d need to do are replace the shitty saddle and get some upright handlebars. And maybe do some maintenance, like cables, chain, and tires. My handlebar recommendations would be, in order from cheapest to least cheapest, Wald 8095 ($15, seriously), On-one Mary (choose this if you want to go kinda fast every once in a while), or Nitto Albatross (purty, purty).

    • Hmmm … good point! That would probably be a really good plan. Maintenance I can do no sweat, and I’m sure I can find $15 for a Wald 8095 (though I will own being a fan of the Albatross).

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