Rehabilitating the Six-Dollar Bike, Part Two

In part one of this financially irresponsible tale, stinginess and a roommate’s desire to take up bicycling led to the merging of a free bike from the garage rafters and a six-dollar bike from a garage sale to make something actually rideable.

As with everything that involves bicycles, the saga continues.

When we last left this monstrosity, it was basically functional, except that the rear derailleur only went into three of six speeds, and the rear brake didn’t work. A new handlebar was on order, as were new brake and derailleur cables.

The handlebar arrived, and was easy enough to transplant. Despite being about thirty-eight years newer than the one it replaced, it was a perfect match for the original. The brake and derailleur cables were simply enough to install, and made the rear brake work again.

Then, things got… interesting. And annoyingly expensive.

The rear wheel was horribly out of true, rusty, and steel, and the six-speed freewheel was worn and rusty. $50 got me a new aluminum wheel and a new five-speed freewheel, yay.

A whole lot of futzing with the rear derailleur eventually meant I wound up with four, rather than five, speeds back there, but that was okay, I guess. The bike was rideable, and that’s what’s important.

To make it useful, I got a rear basket and installed it, for $30 or so.

A couple weeks ago, I was riding the Six-Dollar Bike over in Minneapolis one weekend when the bottom bracket – that’s the technical term for the spindle assembly that holds the cranks, et cetera in place – suddenly came loose. WTF? I was able to get it back together on the side of the road, but only finger-tight. I called a friend who lives nearby, and who is a bike mechanic, and then rode over to his place, where he proceeded to attempt to tighten the bottom bracket, only to discover the retaining nut was stripped, or something. We headed to a nearby bike shop with some of the parts, but they didn’t have a replacement that fit, and it began to look like the cone was maybe stripped, not the nut. Argh!

For the most part, they don’t make cup-and-bearing bottom brackets anymore; everything these days is a sealed “cartridge” which isn’t serviceable. One of these set me back about $25, and I then paid for lunch in return for having it installed. (A bargain at $10.) After we made the bike work again, my friend – who is more than a little bit of a bike snob, I might add – suggested that replacing the rear derailleur would be a good idea, because the one that was on there – circa 1972 Suntour GT – was “old and horrible”. Cue another $20 for a replacement. Oh, and $10 for a new chain with quick-release links.

Total investment in the six-dollar bike to date:

Handlebar: $15
Cables and housings: $30
Rear wheel and freewheel: $50
Basket/rack: $30
Bottom bracket and installation: $35
Derailleur: $20
Chain: $10
Brake pads: $20
Front wheel: $free spare from somewhere

$210, and I still haven’t put on nice tires, lights, a bell, et cetera.

By the time I’m done, the Six-Dollar Bike will have had around $350 sunk into it. Of course, it’ll be a hell of a nice bike by that point, with nearly everything replaced, but, still… it’s a $75 at best no-name thirty-eight year-old bike, beneath all those modern replacement parts.

Original parts remaining: Frame. Fork. Seat. Seatpost. Handlebar grips. Shifters. Front derailleur. Brakes. Fenders.

Sanity remaining: Little.

Published in: General | on June 7th, 2010| Comments Off on Rehabilitating the Six-Dollar Bike, Part Two

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