Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever: My New Bike

So, upon the departure of our dear Chillwill, who has repaired to the welcoming climes of Northern California to work in the agricultural sector, many of us were graced with cast-offs from his large stuff collection. I was lucky enough to get his Mercier "Special Tour de France" road frame. How awesomely beautiful is this frame? Just click on the photo above for a larger view of its orangey goodness. Plus, "Special Tour de France" sounds like a multi-stage bike race for people with cognitive disabilities (like the Special Olympics), and I like that.

Will gave me the frame with a five-speed rear wheel and matching front wheel, but no saddle or handlebars. Clearly, this elegant beauty needed to be spruced up and put on the road stat. I had some three-speed coaster brake wheels in the garage and really wanted to used those (because derailers are lame but internally geared hubs + coaster brake = bringing the ruckus). However, I long ago learned from hard experience that when you put 26" wheels on a frame that is accustomed to 27" wheels, everything is lower and your pedals will hit the ground when you make turns, and this phenomenon, known as pedal strike, can lead to events such as spectacular wipeouts on crowded downtown Boston streets at lunchtime, which suck. Now, a reasonable person might cut the three-speed hub out from the 26" rims, cut the five-speed hub out from the 27" rims and lace the one to the other. But three factors militated against that approach:

1. I wanted to get this business done and get to riding;
2. I didn't want to spend any money, even on new spokes; and
3. I don't know how to build bicycle wheels and didn't want to pay someone else to do it for me (see # 2, above).

Instead, I devised what is, I humbly submit, a really neat solution. I bought a piece of steel at Home Depot ($6.99) and used my trusty hacksaw to fashion the adapter you see below (two of them, actually), which bolts into the bike's dropouts and lowers the rear axle by about an inch.

I am absurdly proud of myself for this feat, and you should be proud of me too. It really works.

Why am I telling you all this? Because after you take time to congratulate me on my engineering acumen in devising the adapters, you should reflect on how nice it is that this lovely old frame has been passed along from one member of our beat bike crew to another to continue bringing joy to me and (hopefully) to anyone who sees it plying the streets of the capital area. Good friends, old bikes, and sharing are all things this world needs more of (along with love, sweet love, of course).


Karma said...

Love the reincarnation of the Mercier. Great job on your mechanical fix but more importantly love the decision to throw on some swept-back cruiser bars, really pulls the project together.

Anonymous said...

This is a thing of unutterable beauty, presidente. I looked at the pictures and said "26s on a road frame? looks cool, but that'll never work". Then I read on and you blew me away. Sweet, sweet work!

- Shoupy

Karma said...

Just noticed the bumblebee seatpost bag, clutch!