My New Bike
I've been wanting a new bike. A road bike. A brand-spanking-new-look-at-this-and-be-jealous-of-the-paint-job road bike. It's been a while. My kids are grown and gone, I have a good job, I deserve it. Sure, I have a tri-specific bike I race on, but I'm one of those weenies who doesn't want to spend all his hours training on, wearing down and dirtying up a bike that's fast, clean and always race-ready.
I also have 12-year-old tri bike that takes a regular beating and has served me well, but also begs me daily for just a little chain lube. Really, I hear it begging, and so does everyone around me. Listen for a moment. Hear it?
I have an older fixie I take for shorter rides (no, I don't own capri pants or a messenger bag, but I do love the workout that the one fixed gear provides) and a single-speed mountain bike I enjoy on gravel and dirt. There's even a unicycle I ride occasionally. (I can also juggle, but not at the same time. Baby steps.)
But still, no road bike.
So I started shopping, combing the Web, grabbing magazines in checkout aisles (the ones with bikes on the cover, not celebrities and their makeovers), even talking to a manufacturer's rep or two.
PUT-MY-WALLET-IN-THE-WASH-MACHINE-AND-HIT-RINSE! Upper four and even five figures for a road bike?
Now I know I'm old and it's been 40 years since I bought my first bike in the back room of a gas station for a whopping $47 after five weeks of delivering newspapers, but I didn't realize I was THAT outta touch.
So I started thinking.
What if I took that beat-up, tired tri bike, chipped off the bubbling paint, stripped away the aero bars and shifters, set aside the base bars for my fixie, chucked the cracked carbon aero seatpost, removed the tri-specific saddle, scrapped the bent derailleurs, took to the landfill both outta-true wheels (unless you want them or happen to be the local guy who makes lawn ornaments out of bike wheels)…
And then started asking around?
It turns out I'm not the only one with a home that's full of bikes, parts, tools and grease.
So after tearing down and cleaning my bike (Simple Green, best stuff ever!), I took the wheels that came stock with my racing bike (but were immediately shelved right outta the box); drop bars that once belonged to a friend; STI shifters and derailleurs no longer used by a riding partner; a stem that has a story, I just don't know what it is; a favorite saddle still with some miles left on it; and…
Loaded the whole mess into the car and headed to my LBS (Sugar Bottom Bikes, try 'em if you're in the Midwest).
Two days later and I have a road bike… one that isn't "new" but new enough, one that fits, one that rolls true and shifts smooth, and one that cost me a whopping, wait for it… $100.
Think our sport costs too much? Pffft, only if you let it. Open that shed, look in your garage or your neighbor's, talk during the next group ride, and give the local shop some business. Your new bike is out there, waiting, and you CAN afford it.
Pete Ylvisaker is a seasoned (i.e. old) endurance athlete now sporting the Team TwinSix kit. Find out more at TwinSix.com.