Friday, January 11, 2013

Can't Have Too Many Bikes

I love to ride and I love my bikes. This is a convenient blending of affections that makes a bicycle lifestyle more acceptable and maybe even logical. OK . . . not logical.

Most of my comments have been about the Novara Safari I acquired in anticipation of touring. In a year and a half I have made significant changes and additions to make it more suitable for its purpose. The changes and additions have been chronicled here. What I haven’t talked about is the other bike. That bike, a 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, served as the platform which allowed me to appreciate the flat terrain and temperate climate of Florida and presented the reality of commuting by bike.

I acquire the High Sierra as a replacement for the Puch ten speed I totaled when a FedEx truck gave me the opportunity do a face plant on its side. Upon full recovery from assorted fractures, dislocations and abrasions and significant research, I purchased the Schwinn over the more popular (and, at the time, much pricier, Specialized Stumpjumper). It helped that Ned Overend (a great name for a mountain biker) was riding for Schwinn at the time and using stock High Sierras and Paramountains.

After too many years of inactivity I resurrected the Schwinn and slowly enabled its evolution from mountain bike to urban commuter. I took economic shortcuts initially to avoid seeming too frivolous, buying inexpensive street tires at Wal-Mart or from Performance and Nashbar. Even now the rear tire is a 26x1.5 Nashbar Streetwise. Both wheels have been replaced along with the rear derailleur, cassette, left crank (twice), and seat post and saddle. The middle chain ring needs to be replaced but the large and small are still original Biopace.

Cosmetically the bike shows its early heavy usage when I was younger and more inclined to take kamikaze plunges down unfamiliar single tracks, but the original graphite color paint still predominates. As a daily commuter it has the capability to out perform me. Its only shortcoming is a lack of fenders. The worn middle chain ring is a very minor inconvenience.

I added a Blackburn Crossrack soon after I bought the bike for convenience sake and it's as useful now as then. Secondhand handlebar extensions add some comfort for longer rides. My first venture into panniers was to buy a pair of Nashbar Euro Compact Panniers and they are adequate bags, though the integrated rain covers do nothing to keep things dry. Someday I may try their waterproof bags, but as anyone who has read previous entries knows I have an absolute belief in the value and functionality of Ortlieb bags.

One of the nicer additions to the High Sierra was my FrankenBrooks saddle. When one of the rails on the B-17 saddle I was using on the Safari broke it was replaced by my FNBS (friendly neighborhood bike shop), Bikes and More as part of the warranty. I’d broken in the decease saddle for many months and it fit like a Brooks saddle was supposed to fit. <sigh> Some weeks later Paul of Bikes and More called and offered me the resurrected B-17. He’d replaced the broken rail parts and reassembled the saddle using aircraft screws rather than rivets. For the cost of the replacement parts I could have the old saddle, sans warranty, of course. How nice it is to have a commuter bike with a perfectly broken in B17 saddle!

Eventually I hope to add fenders, replace the chain ring, and, maybe add Schwalbes. With the Burley hitch on the seat post and a few more upgrades it will be the perfect lifestyle companion, but the Nashbar bags are adequate for typical trips to the grocery store. Yes, the Safari will remain the long ride bike, but the Schwinn will never remain stationary very long.

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