Monday, October 12, 2009

It's just a mild obsession...

Our bike herd recently reached peak overpopulation to date: eight bikes/frames. Yes, we live in an apartment and yes, there are only two of us. Since we do have a garage, we are (er, I am) not quite as bad as Vik (The Lazy Radonneur) ...not yet. Since the herd is now in the process of being culled I thought I would document it at its most bloated.

Surly Karate Monkey - This has served as my primary bike during my time in Missippi. It has been used as an urban assault vehicle/commuter with fenders and lights then stripped back down to run single track. It was a test bed for various bars I wanted to try out and I ended up sticking with the On-One Mary. It has been my single favorite bike to date and if I had money to burn I would keep it and continue experimenting, but it has been sold and shipped off to NYC to replace someone's stolen commuter.

IRO Mark V - I wanted to build a fixed gear bike and I grabbed this lightly used track-inspired frame off ebay for a good price... shortly before I was offered the Peugeot (see below.) The classic French road frame is a much more stable, comfortable, and unique ride with the added bonus that it is likely to get less attention when locked up. It was also a much better fit for my fixie plans (which owe more inspiration to Sheldon Brown than to hipsters and bike messengers.) I temporarily built up the IRO up with the parts for the Peugot just to try it out and it felt twitchy and small. The frameset went back up on ebay and is currently on its way to Arizona.

Trek 600 (I think? It's spray-bombed) - Four years ago this was my first attempt at a single speed/fixed gear project. I inherited the bike from a friend in Omaha who didn't care to take it with them when they moved and quickly discovered that I had neither the tools nor the knowledge to do what I wanted with it. Monkey Wrench Cycles wasn't as much help as I had hoped (though I enjoyed reading their blog and drooling over their great collection of 'vintage' mountain bikes.) It has been sitting in my garage gathering dust ever since. I'm finally starting to part it out on ebay and the frame will probably be donated to BicycleWORKS when we get up to the St Louis area.

RANS Fusion - I started reading about recumbent bikes and the carfree movement when I was a freshman at Hope College. A few years later, after I enlisted in the Air Force I found myself with disposable income for the first time and while I still couldn't afford a high end recumbent, I could swing this semi-recumbent. I have enjoyed riding it, but it never really clicked with me for anything but cruising around on bike trails. I made a few half-hearted attempts to sell it, but it stuck around and Michelle has been riding it until we find her a bike that truly suits her... then it will have to go for real.

Terry Symmetry - When we first went looking for a bike for Michelle, she was feeling the effects of the weight and laid-back fit of the RANS so she was put off by my description of the Surly Long Haul Trucker I recommended as 'not a super fast bike.' She said she wanted something faster, so I got her this Georgena Terry sporty road bike. If it looks a little funny, that may because it is a tiny bike with a 700c rear and 24" front wheels in order to properly fit someone 5' tall. It is a great bike, but narrow, high pressure tires, drop bars and a roadie tuck turned out to be too far in the opposite direction and we're looking for new home for it.

Raleigh Record - Michelle is fond of a pretty step-through frame and I wanted her to try a single speed. This ebay purchase didn't turn out quite the way we had hoped. Apparently low-end old steel bikes are really heavy... Who'da thunk? Worse, the single speed build left a good deal to be desired. This frame is up for sale on craigslist, but if I can't get most of my money back out of it then I'll build it up around an old Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub, throw a basket on it and Michelle will have a city bike to go with her future touring/country bike.

Peugeot UO-8? - I was given a 70s steel Peugeot road bike for free (thanks Raff!) and only realized that it was not the common UO-8, but their top of the line 1977 PX-10 after I had finished tearing it down prior to building it back up as a fixie. The components were in bad shape and the frame is a bit ratty, so not feeling too guilty that this bike will probably never be restored. It will however be ridden and enjoyed... assuming I can figure out how to remove the drive side bottom bracket cup without destroying the frame.

Surly 1x1=11 - The latest addition, the first new bike I've purchased since my collection really started growing (and then only because it was half price.) The anniversary edition of Surly's first model is basically an adult-scale version of the standard BMX-style kids bike: steel, single speed and big fat tires (24" wheels with 4" wide tires to be exact!) Pure dumb fun. This frame is almost as versatile as the Karate Monkey was and it will likely see some experiments of its own (a CETMA front rack is already in the works and internally geared hubs are under consideration.)

Once we sell/donate everything we plan to get rid of then I will be down to two niche bikes and Michelle will have at most one bike. We are then planning on buying a pair of all-around bikes to be our respective long-term primary rides and to eventually do some long distance touring. We are wavering back and forth between the ridiculously good value of a pair of Surly Long Haul Truckers or a couple of more extravagant Rivendells. Well, I am wavering. Michelle would be happy either way; she leans a little toward the more affordable Surlys despite being besotted with the Betty Foy and just wants me to make up my mind.