Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Sorrento

I swung back by the bike shop the day after my bike bit the dust to see about getting it repaired. This is the same place that had high prices that I couldn't afford. The options were interesting. For $25, they could sell me a new cheap rear wheel, put the old gear cluster on it, and send me on my way. They warned me that I'd probably be back in another month or two. The wheel design (called a freewheel) is a cheaper setup that doesn't lend itself well to overweight riders, or to rough riding conditions (curb hopping, occasional pot-holes, etc.) Unfortunately, I met both of the criteria that makes for hasty wheel carnage.

Another option was to spend about $60 for a new cassette-style wheel with a freehub. These wheels are more durable by design, and better suited to my application. Unfortunately, the gear cluster from my old broken bike isn't compatable with these style of wheels, so an additional investment of $20-$30 would be needed to pick up a cassette to go on the wheel. Considering that I only paid $60 or $70 for the whole bike, spending another $80-$90 to fix it didn't sound like such a good idea.

Then, the manager took me outside, to a row of used bikes that he'd taken in trade for newer bikes that his other customers had bought. The conditions I was riding in called for a hybrid or mountain bike of some sort. A racing road bike would never hold up to the kinds of things I do. I tested two used mountain bikes that were being sold for $100 each. One was a Ross, the other a Diamondback (which oddly enough, had slick street tires on it, like wide road bike tires). I put dibs on the Diamondback (a 1999 Sorrento SE), and asked the manager to install a new chain. It already rode like a dream. It was every bit as solid as some of the newer bikes that were selling for $350 and up. For $100, I couldn't go wrong. I picked it up the next evening after work.

I swapped the accessories (lights, cargo rack, etc) from my cheap old bike, onto the new one and started riding to work almost every weekday.

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