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Biking Things No One Told Me

July 13, 2012
by Erin B

I love the bike reviews on Lovely Bicycle.  I love the ride reports on Rideblog.

My life isn’t like that.  I don’t know if it is just me or if it is one of those things people don’t talk about.

My first ride on a bike, like the new bike, I just worry about getting the seat height close.  Then I take it for a spin and see what I think.  In my case, I am checking to see if the angle is going to make my knees hurt and how responsive the bike is.  I listen for rattles.  I check the brakes and the shifting.  I assess the “fun factor.”  I guess this is close to Veloria’s “first impression” reviews.

What I haven’t seen is the second thoughts review.  My second ride, and maybe this is because I like old bikes, is all about the adjustments.  I head out with my tool kit and I start with the saddle.  I kept my perfect leather saddle and just sold Nicolas with the saddle I took off him when I got him.

Maybe it is the old bikes, maybe everyone else can just eyeball it then make perfect adjustments the first time.  I ride a couple of blocks then stop and adjust the saddle, then I repeat half a dozen times.  Up and down, back and forth, angle of tilt.  It all gets tweaked, sometimes by only a couple of millimeters.  Once the saddle is perfect, I’ll try to get in an hour long ride to be sure I like it.  If at the end of the ride, my knees and back are happy, great!  If I have even a little twinge, the whole process repeats the next day.

Once the saddle is wonderful, I may need to adjust the handle bars.  Handlebars move less.   Up or down only a little, angle of tilt a little.  If I am really keen, I may swap them out for a different pair or flip them for a different posture.  I don’t want sore palms or wrists at the end of a ride.

After all that, I will start considering new parts.  I really believe that when you buy a old bike the MINIMUM replacement is the chain and tires and I expect to need new cables and brake pads.  “All Original Parts” is NOT a selling feature in an ad for me.  To me it translates to: “No Maintenance Has Been Done!”

Which is why I am not out riding my new bike yet.  Tires are fine until they aren’t and 20 year old tires have been know to blow out.  The term I have heard most often is “explode” but I think that would take a pyrotechnician.  Blow out or sudden traumatic failure seems like a better description.  When V got her new/old bike, I insisted the first thing she did was order tires.  Now I have to follow my own advice.

In the mean time, I am cleaning Lu and riding MrsB.

The new French Bike had already had a second thoughts ride.   I still love it.  I still wish I knew anything about who made it. The person I bought it from claimed to have personally imported it from France.  I don’t know what I think of that since all the “Made in France” labels say just that.  In English. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  I love it.

It is darn hard to hang it on the wall and wait for tires.

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