Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cutting Back

I've been going through the process of thinning my herd of bikes for a while, now.  I retired the Kestrel, got rid of the Columbia cruiser and my Trek MTB, and most recently sent the Shogun (in triple form) off to live with my folks with the hope that Dad would make some use of it in the coming years.  But moving from a house with a barn to an apartment with no onsite storage has given me the need and the opportunity to think more about simplifying my bicycle situation.

At the moment, I've got three bikes here at my new place, plus one bike each for my two daughters, plus the trailer bike.  I also have Ava's naked Fuji frame, which is being reworked a bit, and the Kestrel frameset is hanging on a wall as a piece of industrial art.  Slimmed back or not, that's still a lot of bikes to keep in an apartment.  Makes me feel a bit like I'm hoarding to have them tucked away in every nook and cranny!

Time will take care of the girls' bike situation, of course.  Ava will eventually grow into the Fuji, and when she does, the trailer bike and her little Gary Fisher MTB will be sent out into the world for others to enjoy.  That'll leave the girls with two bikes between them (and no parts boxes!), which is pretty rational.  But I'm not going to grow out of any of my three bikes -- at least not physically.  I have with me my Paramount MTB, my Motobecane Grand Touring "fast" road bike, and my Schwinn Sports Tourer "touring" road bike.  The only way this fleet is going to shrink is by making some hard choices.

The Motobecane's frame and some of its components were a gift to me from my friend Steven.  This was nearly three years ago, during my separation, and in a sense, the bike is emblematic of that period of my life.  So though it's a mongrel in every sense of the word, as an artifact it's really important to me.  It's also a joy to ride, and it carried me faithfully through this year's PMC without incident, and has served as my "fast" bike the past two seasons.  But for all practical purposes, the Motobecane is approaching the end of its usefulness to me.  The frame is starting to creak a bit down by the bottom bracket, and no amount of tightening of bottom bracket rings and crank or chainring bolts seems to be curing that.

I've considered parting it out and scrapping the frameset, but I feel like the bike deserves better.  It's not ideal for my needs anymore, but it can still serve someone very well.  So I've begun offering it to people I know need a bike.  The first offer has been made to my former next door neighbor's son, who needs a good bike for college.  As long as Matt has a backpack, this should be an ideal bike for getting around campus, and it's a great bike to teach him about cycling and maintaining a bike as an adult, which is different than beating around on a bike as a kid.

So that's one.  Next up is the Schwinn.  This bike has been a great project.  I've tinkered and experimented more on it than on any other I've owned (the Paramount being a close second), and it's been a pleasure to own, ride and work on.  It is strong, comfortable, and is the best all-around ride in my stable -- able to tote loaded baskets and bags, tow the trailer bike and follow grassy and gravelly paths without faltering.  As an only bike, it would be a practical and rational choice.  But bikes are more than tools to me -- they're toys.  And toys come with an emotional component, for me -- I want to love the few bikes I'm going to own in this new chapter I'm entering.  The Schwinn would be liked and respected, not treasured, so it's time to let it go.

The Paramount will stay for now, and though I'd love a modern MTB, my guess is that I'll have it for a number of years to come.

Of course, giving up the Moto and Schwinn would leave me with only one bike, and notably without a road bike.  To replace the retired Kestrel, en route to me now is a Colnago fameset that will be built up with the 8-speed Shimano groupset that once adorned the Kestrel (a mix of 105SC and Ultegra).  It's not Campagnolo, so there's possibly some blasphemy, there, but it's what I've got, and I don't want to break the bank on this project!  I've never ridden an Italian racing frame before, and I'm looking forward to the experience (which I'll be sure to share).  At worst, I'll ride it as is for a couple of seasons, then find something to replace it.  But if I enjoy it as I hope to, the plan is to upgrade the old Shimano components with a thoroughly modern groupset, and use it as a platform for years to come.  I'm thinking SRAM Force, but I'll let that decision come when it needs to.

For now, I'm enjoying settling into my new space, looking forward to my Colnago and Fuji projects, and am looking forward to exploring what I hope will be a simpler next stage of my life.

All for now,


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