Sometimes you just have to let go

18 Apr

Since I started to become more and more interested (read obsessed) with cycling, the desire to learn how to do my own repairs has naturally been a part of the journey. It’s not that I don’t want to give business to my local shops, I love them! It’s just that it’s really cool to learn how to fix your own bike, and be able to know how to take it apart, put it back together and be able to mend small problems on the fly. I think everyone should obviously learn how to change a flat, patch a tire with a dollar bill, and change their handlebar tape. It’s like learning how to change your own strings on a guitar.

Anyway, I decided a while back to work on this bike I found at goodwill for $20. I even put a blog post up about it, and proceeded to never post about it again. That is, until now. As you may have guessed from the title this job never really went as planned. It’s not a bad looking bike, and upon putzing around, I did learn quite a bit about how the little things work, how to take certain things apart and whatnot. It quickly became clear though, that the parts on this bike weren’t exactly normal. For instance,


Now, I didn’t research this heavily, so maybe this design is more prevalent than I realize, but I’ve never seen a crank put on like this. It’s not the craziest thing, but just a small example of the difficulty in this bike. The parts don’t subscribe to normality. Everything is weird sizes, (I know campy parts are different too) and all the bolts are at just the weird enough angles that you can’t really get at anything. It’s like the manufacturers did not want anyone to fix these. I read online that bike shops hated to work on them, which of course I only took as a challenge.

It turns out, that these bikes were given away in I believer the 1980s with boom-boxes at record stores, because they didn’t meet safety specs and could not legally be sold in the U.S.

I thought I could fix this bike when I first bought it. It turns out it was not to be. I managed to get it riding and then I’m pretty sure the bottom bracket is junk. It was my project, I was going to beat the challenge. But I didn’t. Sometimes you have to push through against all odds, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses. Although, I did learn how to put on my own handlebar tape.


Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up turning this into a fixie one day. Or maybe I’ll let someone else work on it and see if they can turn it into a work of art. I got my $20 worth of learning out of it anyway. More likely I’ll try to turn it into miniature pieces of bike art. So I guess, it isn’t a total loss. IN fact, it isn’t a loss at all. I learned a little bit about y own limitations and when I need to just let something go and move to bigger and better things.

I also learned to tell you that  if you see one of these at a rummage sale and think to yourself it might make a good project… Run For Your Life! And then give me a call, because you can have this one (=


2 Responses to “Sometimes you just have to let go”

  1. Ron October 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    That’s called a cottered crank. Like when you buy a crank removal tool you probably look for a cotterless crank removal tool? This one is cottered. That’s a cotter pin going through it to keep it on there. You unscrew the end, pound it out, and then remove the crank. That was pretty standard around 1912 I think. I’ve been tempted to do the same thing that you did, but honestly, people like you are why I haven’t. Thanks for taking the headache!

  2. Mitchell November 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I’m currently working on the same bike.

    When I purchased it, I got a new handlebar and brake levers and rode it for about 5 months without isses until I got into a problem with the cottered crank (same problem you ran into).

    So I tore it apart and made it into another project, which is going wonderfully. I was able to get a newer square taper bottom bracket (that surprisingly fit in perfectly), and am buying new cranks for the bike. As for the rest of the gears, I’m removing them completely too. I traded another bike enthusiast the rear wheels and I got a single speed wheel out of the deal. I’m actually keeping the centre-pull caliper brakes since those worked well and are kind of old school.

    So other than the brakes and the frame, its pretty much a total-rebuild single speed. I would have done it differently if I had known everything I know now, but in the end I will have ended up with alot of learning experiences, and a (hopefully) awesome single-speed bike.

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