Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The good shit...

Some shit is just that.  However, some shit is good shit.  Take the 1970's Free Spirit bike, for example.  I had one when I was in high school before I could drive.  It was a 10 speed.  I turned flipped the bars up on it.  I could ride wheelies all the way down the street to the high school a couple blocks away.  I rode it to junior high about 3 miles away.  I remember freezing my hands on the steel bars after the tape disappeared on cold winter mornings.  We rode bikes to school.  Once upon a time.  I'm not sure what happened to it.  

Last Friday, a small person pedaled up to the shop on a Free Spirit bike.  He was pretty tough to be pedaling this on a bike tour.  He'd started somewhere up in Oregon and by the time he got to the shop, he was really tired of the gearing.  What he really wanted was a new triple, lightweight aluminum wheels and a 9 speed cassette.  After sussing out the bike, I told him that all that was possible, but couldn't happen as a "while you wait" repair.  The one thing that would help was the installation of a triple crankset.  With the Shimano Positron shifting, there was no way to really modify anything else without getting deep into parts replacements.  

So, I told him how much it would cost to install a Sugino triple crankset and Shimano bottom bracket.  He asked, "will I be able to get up the hills easier?"  "Yes."  And I was in motion.  I told him to go get lunch and when he got back it would be ready.  An hour later, he's back, the triple has been added and it was good to go.  I actually breathed a sigh of relief when the front shifter and derailleur moved that chain easily over three chainrings.  

The good shit.  Back then, low end bikes actually had decent parts.  The hubs on this bike spun smoothly.  Everything worked nicely.  It was a good bike.  Today, shit bikes are shit bikes.  What happened?

Oh yeah, he picked up a new seat because that steel shelled seat was killing wasn't comfortable.

Free Spirt
Post new crank

New Sugino
The crank is worth more than the whole bike, but when a bike has sentimental value...


The indexing of the Positron system.

The original Sugino crank that the triple replaced.

(What's playing:  Ray LaMontagne Burn)


MG said...

I had a yellow 24" wheel Free Spirit drop bar bike from that era when I was a kid... A cool bike.

RoadieRyan said...

Wow, I didn't know any version of the Sears Free Spirit actually spec'd Sugino cranks. I am sure that cyclo tourist is singing your praises as they spin up hills that were busting their thighs pre-triple.

gypsybytrade said...

Awesome Mike. I'm happy to know you didn't turn him away, despite your usual clientele. It speaks to your expertise for sure. The Sugino lends a whole new aesthetic to the bike and makes it considerably more functional for a daily rider.

I spent a few months on a Sears three-speed after a bike was stolen during college years. I loved it and rode the piss out of it.


Smitty said...

Have you noticed that the prices on Shit bikes have barely changed over the last 30 years? I think that explains why the parts on them are shit now, too, whereas they once were not necessarily so.