Sunday, October 4, 2009


It's almost leafing season, and today I'm procrastinating building up my leafing rig by blogging instead of doing that work. In truth, I don't really have time to get the rig built today anyway. I'll say more about that later, but first, I wanted to share a bit about my plans for the Columbia.

I mentioned last week that I've got sort of a vision for the straight bar heavyweight cruiser I bought over the summer, then promptly crashed. I should start by saying that this bike will never be more than a clunker. I'm not going to blast it down to bare metal and get it resprayed or otherwise restored. The vision is to make it a functional, fun utility bike. Something good for tooling around town on, picking up ice cream, milk, pizza or beer.

The bike is comprised of a solid frame, a decent set of cruiser wheels and tires, a too-short seatpost, an old sprung leather saddle, a set of kids' size cruiser handlebars and grips, a one-piece crankset, a junky set of pedals, a junk headset and a bent fork. It functioned before I crashed it, but it was an $80 bike, so it functioned about that well.

So what's the plan? Start by replacing stuff that won't work with stuff that will work, then add racks and baskets to round out the package as a utility bike. Simple. And, I've started collecting stuff to that end.

I have a replacement fork for it. It's a 1"-steerer version of the black Tange fork I put on the Paramount last winter. It's a crazy-strong mountain bike fork with cast dropouts and fat Prestige-tubing legs. It has cantilever bosses to accept a front brake, which also gives me two points from which to mount a front cantilever rack. The steerer is plenty long, and I'll leave some extra length to allow for plenty of bar height with a regular road stem.

I have a new Tioga BMX headset for it. I'll have to put it together with an old top nut from a road bike (the OEM top nut from my wife's Bianchi) so a road stem can pass through into the steerer. A BMX headset has a top nut sized for a smaller inside diameter steerer and stem, but swapping the top nut is an easy fix when using a fork with a non-BMX 1" threaded steerer.

I have a pair of racks for it. These are the two aluminum racks that were once on the Paramount when it was set up as a commuter. Front cantilever rack (cheap Nashbar unit), and a rear Blackburn rack sized for 26" wheels. I'll have to sort out the forward/top mount for the rear rack, since there are no rack braze-ons, but that shouldn't be hard.

I have a set of beefy Sun rims in 36-hole with Schraeder drilling, and a set of 36-hole SR hubs ready to be built into a set of wheels. I also have a single-speed freewheel.

I have a cantilever brakeset for it. These are old Dia-Compe wide-profile cantis that should offer plenty of bite. There's no way to mount the rears, but the fronts will be fine. I'm going to give some thought to a rear brake. Not sure how to pull that off given the frame's configuration, but I'd like the added stopping power. One option is to take the bike to a frame builder and have a set of braze-ons added, but that sort of violates the "no paint" tenet I spelled out above. Maybe someday.

On the Paramount today are a set of pedals that will be transferred over to this bike. The Paramount will get back its SPD-style Look pedals.

Still needed are a stem, a set of Nitto Albatross bars in CrMo, a longer seatpost and a nice pair of brake levers. I'm contemplating buying a second set of those pannier baskets I put on Juliana's bike, and maybe another Wald basket (a deep one) for the front rack. I also need to think about the crankset. The one on there is functional, but there are a couple of options to consider, there. First, I could pop in an MRP crank adapter and put on a 3-piece crankset with a nice, little chainring to give me plenty of power and not much speed. I'd probably save a pound or two in the process. Or, I could install a smaller front chainring and tolerate the heavy and battered one-piece crank (repacked, of course). I'll also need a new single-speed chain.

The current bars, stem, seatpost and wheelset will all go on eBay, and I need to start listing stuff pretty soon, actually. The crank may as well -- will have to see. I'll reuse the saddle, tires and tubes that are on there now. The result should be a fun and funky around-town utility bike, and the project should keep me busy, once I've gotten the leaves up and other outdoor activity starts to dry up.

All of this sort of assumes that I'll have space, time and money in my next life to keep this bicycling hobby/habit rolling. Today a "For Sale" sign went up in front of my house, and the first open house will be held later today -- in less than an hour as I post this. There are appointments to see the place next week, and with any luck, we'll get some decent offers quickly. It's a pretty house, inside and out. It has beautiful light and a lot of character and interesting details. It's a house to be proud of. I've enjoyed my time as its custodian, and I'm proud to be leaving it in better shape than when I arrived, just over a decade ago. But not just anyone wants an antique home, and the sale may take some time.

I'm ready to move on, and am looking forward to exploring my new path -- however it unfolds from here. I'll probably be shedding a lot of stuff as I leave the old path behind, and that's probably a healthy thing. But with luck, I won't have to leave any of the bikes at the curb, so to speak. Even this old bruiser Columbia that still needs so much work.

All for now,


No comments: