Today, I popped out to the old house at Bankstown, which my sister and I are slowly clearing out. The long term plan is to empty it, get it fixed up and rent it out. It’s mum’s house and the plan is for the rental money to go toward her care in the nursing home. Having moved all the stuff I wanted out long ago, most of my stuff remaining is heading straight to the bin, with some stuff to the Salvos.
Lurking under the house however, is my old racing bike, and it’s been for around 20 years. It was originally bought from Jack Walsh at the store he ran in Punchbowl. As a teenager I rode it quite a bit as well as training myself up for a big ride from Goulburn to Canberra; my longest ride ever and I barely finished. I no longer remember why I stopped and the bike was eventually locked in the shed for many a year. Later, it was moved under the house – this being a fairly standard house for Bankstown. It used to be a weatherboard place and was converted to plaster and fibro in the 60s. There’s a lot of junk under that house.
As per my recent post, I’ve been thinking about getting back into cycling. My initial idea is to restore the old bike and continue with it at least in part for sentimental value and hopefully too that would be a little cheaper than buying a new one. With that said, I’d probably need to spend around $700 or so to get myself a reasonable city bike. However the hard reality is that I’m likely to be riding a lot sooner if I buy a new bike. Knowing what I’m like, the restoration project is probably going to take a long time…if indeed, I ever finish it.
Today, I got the bike out from under the house, stuck it in the back of my hatchback; it now sits at the back of my parking spot at home. It doesn’t look quite as disgusting as I was anticipating (I’d forgotten it had spent a decade or so in the shed) though it does need serious help. Based on a cursory once-over by someone who knows bugger all ie me, I reckon it needs: a lot of rust removed, a new seat, new brakes, new wheels (tyres are flat though the rims might be salvageable), and then there’s the gears. If I recall correctly, it was a 10 speed racer, and the chain and gear bits are *very* rusty.
A couple of friends commented that I would be better off converting it to a single speed (or fixie). One of the reasons for doing so is that there’s been so many developments in bike equipment that it’s likely to be hard to find replacement parts. A second reason is that most of the riding I’m likely to do, ie casual riding in my local area and surrounding suburbs, doesn’t really need a geared bike. I’ve already had good recommendations from friends (@gcwhite, @malbooth, daniel) for bike help sites. Friends have also suggested a couple of good bike shops locally including Deus and Cell.
Whether I restore or buy new, there are a few things to consider. It seems a foregone conclusion that a fixed single-speed bike is the way to go – I rarely used many gears in the old days and tended to be clumsy on the gear change. I reckon the two biggest decisions ie the bits most likely to affect my overall riding comfort, are the seat and the handlebars. The old bike has a racing set up, though I tended to ride it with my hands on top rather than set in the curvy bits. The bike is set up for that at least as there’s an additional brake bar with that grip in mind. However, I’m leaning more toward a horizontal bar sort of approach and dispense with the racing style altogether though if I do a proper restoration, I’d rather retain the curvy handlebars..perhaps. There seems to be lots of options for seats and I figure that’s something I need to read up on, not to mention going into a bike shop and talking to experts. I can’t do much til September so there’s plenty of time to consider the options.