Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dad's Trek: the series

This is the kick-off post for my overhaul of one battered Trek 720. I see a lot of bikes of this vintage around town, and many, if not most, of them are in poor condition. I've lost track of how many times I have seen neglected 80's and 90's bikes with one cantilever brake missing or dangling loose (occasionally both!). I cringe when I hear the clacking of rusty chains and dry bearings on one of the aging Peugeots or Univegas in my neighborhood that have gone from bike-boom glory to hard-luck mount. I also see a lot of cheap big-box-store type bikes around here, and I think people would do better to fix up decent-quality older bikes than to keep buying really crappy new ones. I have had conversations with people who have spent many hundreds of dollars getting bikes like these extensively fixed up. I hope this series will prove useful for those who have put off needed repairs or maintenance for fear of racking up big repair bills when money is tight. If you are loaded and flush with cash, by all means show some love for our area bike shops. We like having them around.

Here are my basic goals for this series and this project:

  • Make the bike as good as new mechanically, upgrading components as needed.
  • Reusing parts when possible without compromising safety or durability. This will be as much for the sake of reducing waste as for the sentimental goal of saving what can be saved of the original bike.
  • Getting the bike ready for one loaded tour and for many more years of daily service.
  • Learning some new skills, strengthening some existing knowledge, and sharing this learning process on the Beat Bike Blog.

Since this is a tribute of sorts, and since this will always be "Dad's bike" to me, his legacy will inevitably guide my choices through the course of this project. He was a child of the depression, so I will try to be frugal in my expenditures (mostly). He was an engineer, so form will follow function (albeit closely). He took pride and care in his workmanship when he worked with his hands, so the work should be done with care. I inherited his tendency to overbuild and over-engineer things, so sweating the details will be both appropriate and involuntary. He was very safety-conscious, so brakes, cables, tires and the like have to be in top notch working order. He enjoyed the outdoors all of his life, so this bike must be ridden! On that last point, I'll probably exempt it from snow rides, at least when road salt is present. I have a winter beater in the works for that purpose.

Soon, I'll finish disassembling the bike and see exactly what needs to be done. I have already accumulated and set aside some new and used parts for it over the past several months, so I need to dig those out and remember what I have. Next, I'm going to strip it down to the frame and get that into shape for reassembly. In my next installment, we can see what I find. I'll get back to you soon.

1 comment:

Avery Jenkins said...

I undertook a similar project last fall, when I rebuilt a 1974 Fuji Sport 10 that I found in the corner of the basement.

I was able to reuse everything except the brake levers and the freewheel cluster. It was initially going to be a beater bike, but once I got the chrome gleaming and the red cork on the handlebars -- well, it's become a bit of a showpiece, only taken out on rare occasions.

The bike wasn't my dad's, but most of the tools in my workshop were his. Everything I build has a little bit of my father in it. I like that, because he is why I can.