Today, I continued with the donor bike. It's a pretty decent mountain bike, except for the part about the shifters not working and the brake-shifter combo levers needing to be replaced.
This meant going through the big plastic tub that I keep various spare parts in and finding a brake lever that would be V-brake compatible; finding friction shifters that would fit on either the stem or the bar (because I convert ALL my donor bikes to friction if the index shifters are broken); taking everything apart and reinstalling it to accommodate the replacement shifters and brake levers.
My energy level began to falter after two hours -- one of the side effects of auto-immune disease -- so I stopped, and will return to the bike tomorrow.
So here's the thing.
This bike will take a good three to five hours total to tune up and get rolling again (including parts replacement). The bike's age and the level of componentry combined with the time make this bike a huge time-suck for a shop. If I were the owner and took this to my local IBD I'd either be turned away ("sorry, the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the bike and you should just buy a new one"), or charged up the wazoo for the job (which would include some serious upselling to all-new components and the labor to install them).
This is how bikes come to me. Or end up at the curb and possibly en route to the landfill. Yes, even in this day of reuse-repair-recycle, old bikes are still showing up in landfills. Old bikes that actually don't require a complete rebuild to function again. And these are precisely the bikes that the bike industry would rather not know about.
The bike industry is currently having a tough time. They've spent so many years trying to upsell everyone on racer wannabe trickle-down that now they're sitting on piles of carbon fiber and lycra they can't move. At the same time, lots of folks are moving away from the racer-wannabe vibe and are riding in everyday clothes and shoes again, just like when we were all kids. And e-bikes are slowly taking over the market as more Baby Boomers discover that climbing hills without some help is just too hard now. (I have thought about riding an e-bike exactly a dozen times now. I'm nowhere near ready to go there. Check back with me in a few years.)
So hopefully, the racer vibe will stop being such a heavy influence on recreational and even commuting bikes.
Hey, a gal can dream.
For now, I'm happy to take that old department store bike off your hands. I can make it roll again, and I can make it safe, and someone will ride it to get to work or school.
So if I'm stubborn about trying to bring old parts back to life, well, that's why.