September 23rd, 2007


For the Fun of It...

Spent the day picking up the new bike, a Sears three-speed exactly like the one I had in the late sixties. I managed to get back around five this evening, so I still had enough daylight left to take it down to the path for a quick test ride. It took a bit of getting used to. I hadn't even ridden a three-speed since the wife and I rented them on a trip to Martha's Vineyard back in 1976. Just getting going was weird, as I unconsciously tried to slip my foot into a non-existent toe clip and slipped off the pedal. The handlebar ends point back, like the handles on a wheelbarrow, or pretty much any other machine that requires a human to push a heavy weight comfortably. I found it much easier on my wrists than the current crop of straightish bars (all of which I like better than those ridiculous curlique bars that are standard on road bikes). It also took me a bit to figure out the best way to shift. Unlike derailleur gears, a three-speed hub seems to change gears most easily when you're coasting or back pedaling.

Once I did get going, though, it was a fun ride. I did seven miles (breaking one thousand for the year!), just to get a feel for the bike. The bike handled the grades of the path well enough, although I'm pretty sure I never want to try it up a real hill. One thing I'd forgotten was how noisy three-speeds can be, even when they're working well. It's especially noticeable after riding the Absolute, which is so mechanically quiet. There's the constant ratcheting of the hub, the flexing of the sheet metal of the fenders, and the occasional rasp of the chain rubbing against the chainguard. That last is not normal, and means something's not quite aligned right. Fortunately, a couple of quick taps on the side of the guard with my foot fixed it temporarily. I can even make it noisier if I like. The fender struts a perfect for clipping baseball cards to. Now I just need to find a stack of J.D. Drews and a clothespin, and I'll be all set.

I'll take it down to the shop to have him look at it. The guy I bought the bike from mentioned that everything except the saddle was original equipment, i.e., around forty years old. I need to clarify with him if he also meant things like the cables and brake pads. The braking was a bit unsure. I also need to figure out how to rig a cup holder on the thing so I can carry a water bottle. Even so, it's a great bike, and was a steal at the price. Just the thing for a lazy Sunday ride.

Of course, this now means I have three bikes standing in the middle of my living room.