Ten or twelve years ago, my brother-in-law (known hereafter as my BIL) was told he needed to exercise more for his heart health, and as part of managing his diabetes. So he and my sister started riding bicycles together on the weekends. Turns out he enjoyed it, but the bike he had at the time didn't really fit him properly and he sort of hated it. I promised I'd keep my eyes peeled for something else.
As part of my ongoing project of looking for old, dead bikes and bringing them back to life, Three years ago I spotted an abandoned bike leaning against the wall outside the former home of Upcycles bike shop. It was truly sad: a department store bike with a shock fork that was bent at the crown (do you know what kind of impact is required for a bend to happen there on a cheap, heavy shock fork?) and a slightly tacoe'd front wheel.
Seeing that it had a few usable parts, I took it home with the intent of stripping it.
I got it home and put it up in the stand, I recognized that the fork
was really the only thing that had been damaged beyond repair; the frame
was fine, the headset cups were still round and the front wheel could
be brought back.
So I found a rigid replacement fork and swapped it in; repaired the front wheel; and dialed out the rear shock -- oh yeah, it was a full-suspension mountain bike -- as much as I could to remove the worst of the bounce. By the time I was done, the bike wasn't so awful anymore and I put it away as a potential refugee bike.
A week later, my BIL saw it, asked if he could try it, and was hooked. He liked that it was lighter than his current bike and seemed to fit better too. He's been riding it ever since and still likes it.
He brought it over for a tune-up this weekend -- as the family wrench it's my job to make sure my loved ones are riding bikes that are tuned and safe -- and along with the usual brake and gear adjustments and cable lube, there was now the stick issue of a bent chaniring.
Only it was more than one ring. The entire spider had been whacked somehow (in a fall, perhaps) and the whole drive-side crankarm and rings were out of alignment. On a set of cranks this cheap, there was no point in trying to straighten it.
So I set about looking for a replacement.
Fortunately, I was able to score one locally for ten bucks. I overhauled the bottom bracket (a good thing since the original bearings were cheap races; I removed them and installed loose bearings instead), turned the spindle around to accommodate the new crankarm, and voila! The bike is lovely again. I also swapped in some more durable metal pedals.
As part of my #30daysofbiking pledge, I used two days of test rides to fulfill my goal of a bike ride each day.
Next time my BIL brings the bike over I'll try and figure out a way to attach a regular rear rack so he can carry groceries. Right now, the only thing he can use is a seatpost mounted rear rack, which limits both weight and carrying capacity. But he came and got the bike last night and was quite happy with the tuneup. And I was happy to know he'll be riding again shortly.
Because as I learned awhile back:
-- No bike is crap if it can be made safely rideable and enjoyable by someone. A department store bike is still a bike.
-- Everyone who can ride ought to be able to.
-- Too many bikes are languishing in basements and garages for anyone to go without a bicycle of their own.
Happy riding, everyone! Rubber side down, and be safe out there.