Thursday, April 19, 2007

Road Bike Quest - The Update

Things just aren't going well for me. Here's why:

  • My car hasn't been sold, nor traded yet. Some of this is probably my own fault, it seems I rarely have time after work to try to get people out here to look at it.
  • Human Resources and Property Management told me that I absolutely may not bring my bike into the building. This includes stairwells, storage closets, my own cubicle, or the access-card-controlled elevator lobbies in the parking garage. They said that they've had similar requests in the past and if they granted me an exception, they'd have to let everyone bring their bikes into the building. What? All three of us?
  • I'm just getting discouraged and impatient.
That said, I'm re-thinking my strategy on this. Part of me really wants to believe that no one would mess with a nice, shiny road bike hiding in the parking garage that's supposedly "safe". I really, really want a nice snazzy bike to show off. The other part of me is thinking that I should get a cheapo beater road bike.

There's a Schwinn World Sport at my LBS. It's used, it's chromoly, and it's probably about as old as I am. Okay, maybe a few years younger. It's in rough shape. It's got 27" wheels, tires that are okay but not great, a nasty saddle, a rusty rear cluster and chain, missing a brake pad on the front, completely destroyed handlebar padding stuff, and it's just plain ugly. But it has a TON of potential. It fits me, it's dangerously fast but that's partially because it's unsafe at any speed without front brakes, and it is almost identical to the road bike I had when I was in middle school, except bigger.

If I got it, I'd immediately replace the saddle, chain, cables and brakes, and I'd throw clipless pedals on it and see how everything holds up. If it stays together nicely, I'd eventually want to splurge for 700c wheels, and I'd probably re-paint it, flat black or some plain color that's not attention grabbing, but not the ugly beige color that's on it right now.

We'll see. I'm going to call up there tomorrow and see what Kevin wants for it. I still need to sell my car, but I think my cash might be better used refurbishing a beater that won't get stolen.

Today, while I was at JCCC, I decided it would be awfully fun to brush up on my skills in riding down flights of concrete stairs. That's what mountain bikes are for, right? I had a lot of fun playing around. I started with little 2-3 step drops, and worked my way up to conquering this little narrow stairway with about 8 steps. No, I didn't have anything other than my helmet on for protection, and yes, I had my bookbag, MacBook and all, on me while I played around. I go down some pretty steep dirt and grass hills, so I was confident that stairs were not going to present too much of a challenge. Concrete is a little less forgiving than grass, though.

What do you think? Old road bike? fix it up? Or should I go for a newer road bike, use it less often (maybe once a week or so) and hope security keeps the hood rats and bums away from my bike?


Dan said...

I haven't been brave enough to take my road bike to work just because I don't want to leave it outside. Although I could probably bring it in, I've been chastised at other campus buildings.

Tim O said...

Well, think about why you want to use this road bike....I'd say NOT for's the opposite of my situation. I'd like something I can use for touring, maybe randonneuring, several days across country...and my road bike probably isn't the right tool for the job.

Go for a gently used road bike that's fairly new....and enjoy it on the group rides and long morning cruises around JoCo with certain biking friends....:)

Frogman said...

I'd still like to buy your car. I've got more miles riding in it than some cars that I've actually owned... We gotta see how taxes shake out and other stuff. If you don't sell it in a few weeks, we *might* be able to buy it.

Sirrus Rider said...

The company you work for is stupid! At least the HR department is. With all the hullabaloo over global warming, making it easy for the cyclocommuter would make good company publicity. Did you ask the what additional rationale they had other than the childish "if we make an exception for one we have to make an exception for all."

Have they forgotten what their part of the business is? Namely looking after the company's human assets. What if you can't afford the gas to drive?? Are they going to force you to drive?? It's just plain knee-jerk-bureaucratic political horse-shyt!

If it were me I would very quietly call my local ""Starvin'" Marvin Zindler" type investigative reporter and give him or her the story. Sometimes a little public shaming works wonders on companies.

AS for the bike situation.. Only when racing or training for a race do I ride my road bike. Part of the rationale for my cyclocommting strategy is to compensate for the bad roads here on the west side of Houston. 700cX25 tires are skinny enough to get caught in subsidence cracks in the roadway (and when that happens it CAN be a BAD Day INDEED!) and cause a fall. 26X1.5 provide a slightly larger contact patch with the roadway and more stability; consequently, I went with a mountain bike.

In light of contending with the Dyck heads in HR a beater might be a good choice. One thing I have seen is some busrider will chain up a cheapy beater bike at the bus stop. That could make a good parking place, a location out in plain sight in a busy location where there are a "Thousand eyes."

Also, nasty black is a good color, better and safer would be florescent/blaze orange or neon yellow. So in the early morning hours you'd be more visible and it would be garish enough that no one would want to steal it.

MRMacrum said...

One consideration If you decide to buy the old ride at your local LBS. If you decided to put 700c wheels on it, you may want to look hard at the existing brakes first. They may not have enough drop down adjust in the b/pad groove to handle the smaller 700c wheel.

If they don't you will have to find new brakes that will. The braze on for brakes is usually attached higher on the frames and forks for bikes with 27" wheels.

There are brakes that will work. ANd if you are lucky your bike will already have them.

Noah said...

Thanks for the heads up on that. I haven't actually taken a side-by-side of 27 vs. 700c wheels. The brakes had plenty of adjustment room "up" for larger wheels but not much downward adjustment. All this time, I thought that 27 was a touch smaller than 700c. That could have been a pretty big mistake. If I go for an older bike, I'll see if they'll let me snap a 700c wheel in place to see how the brakes will work. From what I saw, I think I might be in trouble with 700c wheels.

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