Old Like New
Very little beats that feeling when you purchase a brand-new bike. Everything is shiny and the tires have those little nibs on them and the shifters and brakes work effortlessly. Every time you ride your new bike you have a smile because you worked hard for the money that bought that bike and now the wind is in your hair and the sun is on your face. Let’s fast forward a bit now and you’ve just purchased your third bike, a nice carbon gee-whiz with all the new gadgets. The wind is still in your hair and the sun is still on your face. As you roll your new bike into the garage you happen to glance at your first bike. It’s still there in the corner where you left it when you got your second bike and found out how much faster the aluminum frame of your second bike felt over the steel frame of your first bike. You wistfully recall those first days when you didn’t know any better and the freedom your first bike gave you was all you needed. As much as you love your new bike, there is something about that first ride that can never be duplicated. Perhaps that is why it’s still sitting there in the corner and not six feet under the latest layer of land fill. An idea comes to you that maybe you want a bike that gets back to the roots of why you started riding in the first place. As you look at your first bike you realize that maybe you can recapture that feeling from so long ago.
From this point you have two choices. You can refurbish your bike and make it as much like it was when it was brand new as possible. The other choice is to customize it. Swap parts out to make it more up to date or to serve a different purpose entirely. It is this last option I’m going to talk about. We recently had a couple bring in two old bikes. One was the first racing bike her parents had given her. The second was her dads’ bike that had been sitting for a long time. The first step was listening to how they wanted to use the bikes and then the next step was to choose a configuration that would fit the customers’ needs and budget. They were wanting to repurpose bikes that had nostalgic value to get around their neighborhood and visit local bars and restaurants. Since both bikes had a fairly high emotional value, the budget was higher than bargain basement level. Single speeds were the logical choice for their simplicity and relatively low cost to build.
The first bike was a Marin San Marino with a beautiful blue and yellow paint job and polished chrome accents. It had vertical rear drop outs which would require a chain tensioner of some sort to take up chain slack. Because it was a nice steel frame with polished lugs I decided that polished silver wheels would be a good basis to build from. After that it was a polished crankset and brake levers while utilizing the original brake calipers and cockpit. Surley makes a premium chain tensioner that can be configured to pull up on the chain allowing for more wrap around the freewheel for less chance of skipping, and it looks killer. Brown tape and brake hoods went well with the brown sidewalls of the Gatorskin tires and yellow cable housing finished everything off. Overall I was going for a look that hinted at the vintage colorways that existed in the frame.
The second bike was not much more than just a frame but it was painted a very nice metallic gun metal grey. Blue seemed like the way to go on this bike so wheels, cranks, and tape all got some blue. A gold chain, pedals, and cable housing added just a bit of accent that matched the lettering on the Gatorskin tires. This frame had semi-horizontal dropouts so a tensioner wasn’t necessary. I feel the colors on this build was a more modern look while still utilizing a vintage frame. Both of these bikes were great examples of what can be done when the customer is flexible on their budget and interpretation. They now have bikes that they will enjoy getting around the neighborhood on and represent a bit of their past at the same time.
How does that old bike in the corner look now? A makeover could breathe some new life into that first bike while gaining functionality and letting you dance with the one who brung you, so to speak. You can never get back that first bike feeling but you can turn your oldest bike into your newest bike and that’s pretty close.
Local Hub Bicycle Company
Service Department Manager