Some current events, and a love song for silver bike.

So while I am waiting on Ben's bike to come back from powder coating, I started making another set of the bull moose bars like those that are on my mountain bike. I will have pictures soon, but it was so cold in my workspace the other day that I only got a couple of hours in before rushing home to jump in the tub. I did get the first two brazes complete and the next two miters in decent rough shape. I will be out of town next week for some Thanksgiving festivities, so it will be a little while before I get back into the workshop.

I recently had to fill out an employee biography form for the bike shop that I work at. One of the questions was, "If you could only have one bike for the rest of your life, what bike would it be?" My reply was my silver bike. Silver bike is a 1980 Panasonic Sport Deluxe. Very much not a fancy bike: a low end bike boom frame set, high tensile steel and stamped dropouts. However, it fits my lanky proportions very well. I purchased it my junior year of high school for $30 at a yard sale in Madison, CT. I rode it something like 22 miles home and it was awesome. At the time it had a set of risers on it and looked something like this:

I shipped it out to Oregon to have while I was at school at Reed College. I rode that bike all over town, both around campus but also on longer ventures, 40 and 50 mile loops around the city. The summer of my sophomore year I put some drop bars on it to facilitate my longer distance trips. It looked like this (sorry to my readers for having taken so many non-driveside photos):


At the time, mostly because I was broke, it remained on its 27" cheap replacement wheels which I retensioned to extend their lifespans. The bike remained like this for quite a while, although it went in a more rando-ish direction as my trips got longer and I got nerdier about bikes. When I came back to Portland after some travels post-graduation, it looked like this:

I had salvaged the front rack from a strange old Bridgestone that had been scrapped. It has twin headlights, at this point both of them the original incandescent bulbs powered by a sidewall dynamo. This is my primary memory of silver bike, this is how i imagined it for the longest time. I really wanted a fancy integrated rando bike, but I had silver bike, and I made silver bike into the best possible version of what I really wanted. The shifters here are Suntour Command butterfly shifters, which provide friction shifting (or 7 speed Suntour indexed shifting) from the brake hoods. They are still some of my favorite shifters. Here is a picture from one of my many adventures:

Working in the bike shop, I eventually built myself up a set of 700c wheels for commuting and touring on. I had a tour planned down the Pacific Coast from Eugene to San Francisco, and for that adventure, silver bike morphed into touring mode:

Rear rack, nice new 700c wheels, a triple crankset, and some real nice Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. Silver bike performed spectacularly on tour, although one of my Suntour shifters did fail at the band clamp and I did need to adjust the rear hub. But, for a 33 year old cheap bike retrofitted with stuff it was never meant for, it handled those miles wonderfully. After I returned to Portland, silver bike changed again into townie mode, a version which has endured to the present.

Here, silver bike is parked in the hallway outside of my apartment in Brooklyn. I am about to run some tubing over to the workspace. I have a Rivendell Shop Sack in a Wald basket as my primary grocery getting set up, and it works very well indeed. Secure, capacitous, and affordable, I can get myself and everything that I might need to carry anywhere in town. It has worked very well in this capacity in Portland, New York, and Baltimore. Sadly, after much abuse, the seat stays cracked off of the lug at the seat tube. I repaired it with a joint very similar to what I used in my mountain bike:

In this version, the somewhat strange looking tube/joint also has a function:

This is only the Mark 1 version of this design, I will refine it further whenever I get around to building up a townie frame set for someone. But for now, it works very well, and I have silver bike back up and running once more.

Silver bike, and other bikes like silver bike, is one of my very favorite bikes. Almost by accident, it is a near perfect around town machine. It fits 700x32 tires with fenders, uses inexpensive and readily available parts that function reasonably well even when dirty, rusty, bent, or just neglected for a while. It has sufficient cargo capacity to haul a reasonable amount of groceries or laundry without being cumbersome. While one of the things that I love about silver bike is how I have been able to make it into many different bikes, I will be building many things that I first tested out on silver bike into frames that I get to design from the ground up. While the bikes that I will get to build someone in the future will be sleek and awesome, to me they will always be love songs to silver bike.