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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bike Trouble

RIP Trek
My city bike fell apart on me last week. The rear wheel was grinding into the brake pads so I figured the wheel was way out of true and I thought I probably needed to replace the bearings in the rear axle. My mechanic called and told me that one of the rear stays on the frame was broken. I always thought that as I rode this old bike literally into the ground that in the end I would have a decent Trek frame upon which to build a new bike. As it turned out, the only thing that I bothered to salvage was the seat and post.

Since I bought my Giant Roam® hybrid two years ago the Trek had been relegated to city bike status but only when distances and time restraints made Valenbisi (our local bike-share system) travel less than ideal. There are also certain times of the day when the bike-shares bikes aren’t very dependable because of high usage so two or three days a week I really appreciated the flexibility of using my own bike around town. Now I need a replacement and the sooner the better

The problem is that I’ve had terrible luck finding used bikes here in Valencia. I’ve already bought two new bikes since I got here which are two more new bikes than I bought in Seattle where I had a steady stable of three bikes all bought used. I’ve been desperately seeking a cyclo-cross bike for the past year or so to no avail. People here seem to think that their used bikes are worth about 90% of what they paid for them years ago. “Priced to sell” doesn’t seem to translate. In Seattle I bought a great mountain bike used for about a quarter of what it went for new only a few months earlier.

The thing is, I don’t want anything too flashy for my city bike so as not to attract the attention of thieves—not that thieves are above stealing even the biggest pieces of shit. You more or less have to expect that your bike will be stolen if you leave it on the street to the mercy of the jackals so I don’t want anything that I will be too attached to either financially or emotionally.

Seattle City Bike
In Seattle I had an old and slightly modified Cannondale mountain bike that I used in the city with a more or less bullet-proof aluminum frame. I bought this one after an old Nishiki mountain bike I had before split in two pieces. Frames matter! I think the way to go here is with a fixie which is bike without gears based on track racing bikes but with a freewheel rear hub instead of the actual fixed gear of the racing models where you have to pedal backwards to stop. The newer versions have caliper brakes or perhaps a front disc brake. The advantage to these is the weight savings from not having gears and shifter. Valencia is very flat it makes sense to skip the gears for a city bike. I’ve never actually ridden one so I may change my mind on the no gears thing.

In any case, a bike without gears is infinitely superior to a bike with shitty gears which is the case on most lower-end bikes these days. Simplicity is often a virtue, especially when it comes to bad quality bike components. The market for used fixies here is completely stupid as kids want 250€ to 400€ for their little works of art. “Clásico” and “Vintage” are common descriptions used for over-priced merchandise. What it really means is a chop job done on an old racing bike and a bad paint job thrown in for these new hipster bikes. I don’t want to be a hipster, I swear. I just want to get from A to B quickly and comfortably without donating another bike to the Valencia Bike Thief Fund.

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