Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Main Machine: 2006 and 2016

My main bicycle is a 1997 Diamondback Outlook that I bought in 2006. A property manager in Delaware answered my classified ad in the Daily Local News. The ad started strong with "Bicycles Wanted" in bold type. Plenty of tenants had moved out, and I bought the bicycles that were left behind for $20 each.

I lived at 46th and Locust in West Philly. My apartment with my girlfriend at the time was in the basement. Getting my road bicycle up the stairs and through two doors was just enough of a pain to justify getting another bicycle to lock outside full time. I wasn't worried about the Outlook - I viewed it as a bike theft experiment. I used a U-Lock, and it lived outside the front door, attached always to the stop sign on corner. Nobody ever touched it.

The only things I changed originally:

1) Handlebars to Raleigh 3-Speed takeoffs.
2) Shifters to friction thumb shifter on right side only.
3) Tires to $5 IRC slicks from the wholesale account I had no business having.
4) Rack and Milk Crate.

The Diamondback was easier to access, and had a useful crate on the back. I was not worried about theft or damage. Wide tires roll great on shittily-maintained pavement. For these reasons, and the simple fact that it was more comfortable, the Diamondback became my main bicycle. I never would have guessed back in 2006 that the $20 bicycle would be the one that I would ride up into Quebec, and then later from Philadelphia all the way to the Pacific Ocean. But so it is, and we are still close friends today.

Now it is 2016.

The Diamondback "Hoopty" Outlook has gone many thousands of miles, and dozens of component changes. It is unlikely that there will be much deviation from the current setup unless something breaks or wears out. The Hoopty wears many brands, and components from many ages and origins. It is as mechanically simple, smooth, and reliable as I could ever wish of a bicycle.

Here are the details with plenty of photos for once:

As majestic a machine as I have ever seen...

To me, this looks like the epitome of bicycle cockpit comfort.

Sugino XD600. The only crankset you will ever need. It's on its third center chainring - a 40t Race Face. The 36t it comes with is too small for pavement riding, but I wore it out before changing.

The original "7-SIS" rear derailer. I wanted to see how long it would last before crapping out, but I'm starting to think I will never find out. That blue piece of housing was also installed in 2006.

One bottle cage is never enough. The hose clamp is grabbing the metal boss from a Minoura gadget that was designed to put a bottle cage on the handlebars.

Velo-Orange quill stem adapter. Opens up a world of stem possibilities.

Bar-end shifter attached to Jagwire shifter pod. The pods are designed to go on the ends of aerobars, so the orientation is backwards - so this is the "front" shifter operating the rear derailer. It's a friction shifter, so it works great.

Suntour Accushift shifter attached to Jagwire shifter pod. This 7spd shifter operates the Front derailer in friction mode. The reason for the Jagwire pods is that they fit over the handlebar ends, as opposed to traditional bar end shifters, which fit inside the ends.  The handlebar's inside diameter is too small for bar end shifters.

Brooks Flyer. The saddle rarely sees the light, because I keep the rain cover on at all times. I've worn through a rain cover, but the saddle probably has years to go. 

Oversize Hi-Ten MTB tubing. The most scoff-worthy tubing available. Somehow it hasn't killed me yet.

Fender stickers for reflectivity and amusement. Boat inspection sticker found roadside in Idaho, and applied over a crack in the fender, which has recently re-appeared. 

Milk crate featuring many toe straps. The rolled up yellow thing is some sil-nylon that I made into a cover for the milk crate. It's big enough to fit over an overstuffed backpack, and keeps everything 100% dry.

I put these pedals on every bicycle.

My friend Nielle used to race downhill MTB. She was sponsored by Ringle. I found this hub in a taco'd wheel in the basement of Fairmount Bicycles when the shop opened. I needed a new wheel, and I didn't have much money. I migrated the hub and spokes over to a new rim, and I've been using it ever since. I killed the pawls on the cross-USA trip, sent an email to Ringle, and had new pawls and springs sent free of charge. It always pays to mention that you work in a bicycle shop.

Shimano Alivio brake levers. These originally had integrated trigger shifters. The shifters were broken, so I removed them, and ground down the vestigial disc-shaped bosses with an angle grinder. The levers were worth saving - the barrel adjusters are made of steel, as opposed to the tin foil bullshit on 99% of  levers, which immediately strips and crossthreads. The mechanical advantage is matched well to cantilever brakes, as opposed to the pull on a lot of replacement levers that seem to be trying to split the difference between the cable pull for v-brakes and cantis, thus being sub-par for both. For inexpensive levers, these were made well.

The rivets failed, but the zip ties won. These fenders are developing a lot of cracks, but I think I can outpace the damage with more zip ties.
Yup... seems to make a lotta sense....


Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of a milk crate on the rear of a bicycle if you can haul things on your bicycle it's not very useful. I had the same thought of loading my gear in a rucksack and stuffing it in the milk crate when I do the C&O canal trip this October my concern was with the bicycle be too top-heavy what are your thoughts

Pixy Stoneskipper said...

Milk crates are on the small side for multi-day touring. I usually remove the crate and use my Ortlieb panniers. I've gone on overnight trips with the milk crate, using a bivy and only slightly overloading the crate. In those cases, the bicycle was top-heavy, but not enough to detract from enjoyment - more of an issue while stopped than while moving, but if you like to stand on the pedals while climbing, it might require some adjustment to your style.

If you're camping for multiple days and bringing cooking supplies, I'd use panniers. In any case, it's always best to gather all the exact gear you plan to bring, and load the bicycle up well in advance for a test ride to make sure it all works. I never remember to do that, but I always wish I did. Eventually, I will learn.

I hope I'll be riding the Gap/C&O Canal this year, but with plans to hike more of the AT in October, I'm not sure when I plan to do that. I'm not exactly a "plan ahead" sort of guy.