Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Spring means get on your bike and ride to most folks, but for a few of us goofier people it means time to clean up the bike after months of winter road grime and salt. I myself am lucky enough to have a couple bikes, one for the nice weather and one for the rain/snow. Holly really has had only one bike for a long time, an old Gitane that I cobbled together into a single-speed commuter. It really is a bit too small for her, and it's certainly not pretty enough to show off in the summer. I felt bad about spending so much time and money on my bikes, nice as they are, when she commutes more than I do by bike and is relegated to riding an old beater.

So for the summer, I stumbled across a 1983 Trek 560 frame in her size and decided to build it up into a summer fun bike. The 560 was a steel lugged bike built in Wisconsin, with a tight racing geometry. Read: small tires and no fenders. I just happened to have a 650B wheelset laying around waiting for the right bike, so I mounted them up. 650B wheels are smaller in diameter than the original 700C wheels the Trek came with, which means that they sit lower on the frame, increasing clearance for larger width tires. I have a set of Grand Bois Cypres tires on there, which are about 30mm wide, nearly double the original tire, and they're smooth and fast, to boot. The only problem with 650B conversions is getting long brakes to reach the rim, but I had some Dia-Compe centerpulls that fit the bill nicely. After adding some old Campagnolo shifters and derailers, the whole thing came out very nicely. I even shined up a lot of the metal with some Mother's aluminum polish to look extra nice.

Holly also has wanted a bike that she can ride with a skirt and cute shoes for a while now, a movement that seems to be growing thanks in large part to sites and blogs like Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Let's Go Ride a Bike. I have a Mixte frame coming eventually, but we already have her mom's old Schwinn Suburban in the garage, and that thing just sparkles. It's also really old, slow, and heavy, so I'm not sure how long she'll be able to hold out commuting on it. I shined it up too, adjusted the brakes, and now it's ready for some cruising. All it really needs now is a cute wicker basket and she'll be set.


Dottie said...

Great bikes! I love all old Schwinns and that's a nice green color. But, yes, they're not the most efficient machines out there. I look forward to reading more about this future mixte.

Doohickie said...

Old, slow & heavy = classic, elegant & stately. One of my commuters is a 1973 Schwinn Suburban. Can't beat it!

Erich said...

I don't know - it's certainly a nice ride, but Holly really prefers her new mixte, which I think is just as elegant. There's nothing elegant of trying to fix the rear flats or chains jumping off that the Suburban seems prone to for some reason. It will be going back to its proper owner soon.