I have five bicycles. Some get ridden more than others for sure, but generally speaking they all get put into the rotation. The problem in recent years has been a serious lack of time in putting them to use. I’m hoping to rectify that in 2018.
The oldest is my 1986 Panasonic Touring Deluxe. It was originally maroon color with classic drop handlebars. Then it was rattle can black. Then I got it painted maroon again, but finally about a ten years back I had it powder coated a nice hunter green with gold metallic specs. In recent years I’ve had a nagging issue with flats and with the wheels. Back in the early 90s when I was trying to save up for my first mountain bike I briefly toyed with the idea of selling this bike to raise some cash. Thankfully I decided against that and held on to the bike. Now, it is at the top of the list when it comes to being THE bike that I would never part with.
That mountain bike that I eventually saved up enough to purchase only lasted for a few years before I bent the derailleur hanger. It was a Diamondback Ascent EX in neon apple green. I held on to the frame and it currently resides in the rafters in my basement. The parts from this bike were scavenged and placed on a blue Ascent EX frame that I picked up for $40 from the Ambridge Bike Shop. This bike has probably been to more places than all of my other bikes combined. Because it was a so-called “beater bike” it went up on the roof of my vehicle and spent many a night out in the rain when I was out of town on business. Over the years it has received many upgrades.
My first and only suspended bicycle was purchased in 1999. Back in the mid 90s if you went anywhere near a mountain bike race in western Pennsylvania the clear brand of choice was a Cannondale. They were everywhere. It was during this period that I lived maybe a mile from the prime trails of South Park. I rode to the trails on my Super V 1000 and times were good. It was during this period that my mountain bike skills were at their peak. I would attempt things on that bike and clean them on a pretty consistent basis. Its crazy that I think back to this being nearly 20 years ago.
But as much as I enjoyed that bike and as high as the seat sits off the ground, it always felt somehow a bit small for me. In the mid 2000s I put together my first 29r and finally got to experience trail riding on a bike that seemed to fit me properly.
The Redline Monocog 29r frame came with a Ritchey Pro headset and a stock rigid fork. The other items were purchased from here and there. Following in line with my other bicycles the shifters are of the top mount variety. Why mess with something that works? The 8sp XT shifters and XTR front and rear derailleurs came from the private stash of Rocky Rider of the old Dirt Rag forum.
I put everything together at Kraynicks bike shop. It’s been years since I’ve stepped foot in the building and I know there is new ownership of the shop, but back in the day you could go in and work on your bike in the back of the shop. When it came to installing a new bottom bracket or headset on to a new frame those tasks were perfectly suited for Kraynicks.
There was this guru bike guy who appeared to be some sort of gear/ratio savant who always seemed to be milling about. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember the pony tail and the tie-dyed T-Shirt. When I was building the bike, he was there offering advice on this and that. As I was setting the shifters and cables for the front and rear derailleur I couldn’t remember which way they should swing. I asked him and he said something to the effect of “Well, they can go either way. It’s the rider’s preference.” So, I followed his advice and installed them how he suggested and of the four geared bikes I own, this is the only one that swings the wrong way. Literally every time I get on the bike I say to myself that I need to spend the time to put it back on to the work stand and correct the situation. But it shifts so nice as it is and once I get used to it I’m fine. In the end I presume I will leave it as is. Besides, I’m quite certain that old hippie led me down the wrong path on purpose and I’ll give him that.
My fifth bike was the biggest bike project I’ve ever undertaken. I totally transformed a 30-year-old Schwinn Impact mountain bike into a fixed gear road bike. The process took probably close to a year to complete but it was worth it.
The Schwinn was purchased new by my father back in the mid 80’s. I borrowed it for a trip I took up to Vermont for the Norba National Mountain Bike races back in the early 90s. It was a great road trip and the bike performed admirably even though I was largely out of my element. I rode it up and down and around and all over Mt. Snow.
In later years the knobby tires were swapped out for slicks. My father kept it up at their trailer near Pymatuning and he put on a lot of road miles. The geometry on that bike put the rider in a more upright position and it was perfectly suited for dirt roads and smooth asphalt.
Eventually the bike was gifted to me as he had moved on to a nice Trek and rarely rode the Schwinn. I’m not sure exactly when I got the idea to do with the bike what I did but it was quite the project.
Step one was to strip the components off the bike. Then I hit it with my Dremel tool and took off the brake and derailleur hangers. No going back. The paint came next. Then it was back to Kraynicks to bend the rear drops so they could accept a road wheel. New paint and components completed the project and to this day the bike is still as smooth as ever. The only bad thing about the bike is I can’t ride it to where I ride it. There are simply too many hills around my house to take it down my driveway and go. But spinning around the nearby town of Irwin really makes for an enjoyable ride.
So those are my five bicycles.
Just recently I saw a buddy of mine I used to ride with. It had been a few years since we talked about bikes. He asked me if I had one of those fat tire bikes. I told him that I did not and that five was enough. It wasn’t that long ago that I had visions of owning one of those fat tire steeds. I used to say that my next bike was going to be one of those. But as I get older I realize that I’ve possibly purchased/ built my last bike. Five is probably just enough.
But…you never know…