- Aug 6, 2008
I had this heavy old Fuji that folded in half, weighed about 50lbs, had a 5 speed freewheel and friction thumb shifters. For those that don't know bikes, that means it was a pretty crappy bike.
But then I moved into an RV, there was only room for one bike, and I took my more versatile road touring bike. The mnt. bike went up on the wall in the garage in Mom's house.
I came back, eventually, to CA. I took the mountain bike with me to Burning Man.
One night, I parked it outside next to my RV. Someone came by and claimed it. I suppose the idea is, in a semi-anarchistic gifting culture, no one can lay claim to property, and so this wasn't so much theft as involuntary sharing.
I decided that next time I wanted to get a half-way decent mountain bike. Which meant that for years and years, I had none at all, because there was always more important things to spend money on.
Many years passed.
I became a hauler. You wouldn't believe the things I get paid to pick up from people. My TV, DVD, VCR, RePlay, CD changer, sofa, scanner/printer... these are all things I was paid to take away. I have had several bikes, but none were quite right, and they passed through my hands to new owners.
And one day, just last week, I ended up with a mountain bike, and this one I kept.
I was a little disappointed at first when I looked it up and found out how cheap it was when it was new. A bit heavy for the frame size. Cheap forks without much rebound damping. Low end Shimano components.
On the other hand, the frame is far too small for me, which has the advantage of making it lighter (plus plenty of standover height, and a short wheelbase for maneuverability).
The fork has a huge range of easily adjustable preload, changing it from very soft and cushy to stiff while retaining small bump sensitivity.
And, working as a bike mechanic for the past couple years, I recognize that while the shifters are a decade old and were cheap back then, they actually stand the test of time, and this particular design fails less often than many newer and more expensive ones. Just like every other of the same model I've come across, they still shift as crisp and precise as a new set.
I found an old extra long seatpost in the scrap metal bin. All of the grippy teeth were worn away to nothing. I took about half an hour to file new teeth into the post. No decent bikeshop should be without several types of file.
None of this was enough to compensate for lack of skill, however, and I still ended up walking a couple hills.
But this is what I came here for, isn't it? I won't claim I wasn't scared. This bike took a staircase like it was a wheelchair ramp. Its got decent brakes (well, in front, but those are the ones that matter). I can just try to go slow. It would take a better writer than myself to put into words that section of trail. I can describe the feeling though. Equal parts terror and fun. Like the first roller coaster that goes upside down that you go on when you're 9 and finally tall enough. Like racing a small car on the freeway at 90mph in medium dense traffic. Like technical downhill mountain biking when you have almost no experience at it. My heart rate and breathing were as high from the downhill as they had been from the uphills earlier. I don't think I have had so much fun since I worked at the carnival.
go buy a mountain bike!