Sunday, January 22, 2017

Playin' the Oldies

We had a balmy weeked here--temps in the 60s aren't the norm for January in Ohio. Nothing to do for it but grab a bike and ride.

Saturday morning, I was out before the sun on a grocery run. I was riding my $50 CL Rockhopper, now converted to flat bars and featuring a kickstand:

Kickstands are frowned on by serious cyclists, but man is it pleasurable to stop my bike and leave it genteely upright. This rear mounted stand works well with a front load:

Whenever I would ride with the kids, I always felt a bit stupid when we stopped somewhere, and they could neatly leave their bikes upright while mine flopped on the ground like a dead fish. No longer!

I swapped out the Open Bars on my RH for a regular riser bar. It gives a great feeling of control, and was comfortable enough for the 30 minutes each way to Kroger:

My Rockhopper is in kind of a weird, in between place. It's not old enough to satisfy the vintage folks. The basket, fenders, and kickstand are too dorky for people who read Bicycling. The carbon fork and mtb bar won't earn it any Riv cred. But it all comes together for me, and I like it. It handles great, even with weight up front in a flexy basket.

At Kroger, I was disappointed to find they'd shrunk the bike rack so they could add a cigarette ashtray on either end. Gross. I'll find somewhere else to park, or somewhere else to shop (that's a hollow threat, I hate Giant Eagle, and it's the only other close grocery store)

Today, I took out my old Trek 510 for a ride. In a fit of winter boredom over the last few weeks, I took this off the hook and converted it into a fixed gear. Boredom, and I realized with 6-7 bikes, I didn't have any fixed gear bikes. That needed to change.

I like the looks of the old timey non-aero brake levers. This bike rides great and handles fine, despite the rear wheel being off center to the seatstays:

Off center here, yet dead center in the chainstays. I spent an afternoon with string and a 2x4, but I couldn't get it aligned any better. I did take the chance to spread the dropouts to 135mm, so I could put in my nice White Industries hub:

This frame is close to valueless, so I don't have many qualms about working it over with a piece of lumber.

What was interesting was that I was generally more comfortable on the Rockhopper than the drop barred Trek. I've been warming up drop bars again lately, but these Salsa Bell Laps don't have quite the great ramp shape of the VO parallel bars on my Raleigh. Too bad the VO bars are so narrow (VO measures at the ends, so their 44cm is more like a 40cm bar at the hoods. Buyer beware!)

No pics, but I also switched my Raleigh over from 650B wheels back to the original 27" wheels. It just handles better with them, and I have a new frame coming for the 650B wheelset.

I like these old sport touring bikes, but a fat tire crowds out any room for a fender. My wet backside on my ride today can attest to that. On the other hand, they generally ride better than newer bikes with oversized tubing. Wouldn't it be great to have fat tires AND fenders AND lively tubing AND strong brakes, with something that you can find on Craigslist for just a few hundred dollars?


  1. At least out here on the left coast those old treks are starting to be recognized as worthwhile with prices to match. Bare frames with decent paint tend to run 150-200. Miles in the SF bay area.

    1. They should be recognized as worthwhile, because they are very nice bikes. My current Trek has nicely thinned lugs--when was the last time you saw that on a production frame? Though the paint can only charitably be described as "battered."


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