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Missing the good old days (maybe)..(12 posts)

Missing the good old days (maybe)..Jekyll
Apr 5, 2002 2:29 PM
I took the afternoon off from the grind to overhaul my main road bike. I had been looking forward to spending a few hours of quality time alone with this beautiful machine. I wanted to pamper it, clean it, adjust all of its quirky components all in the piece and quite of my garage, watching the snow fall on a gloomy Friday afternoon. No ball and chain, no cell phone, no TV, just me, my bike and the sweet sounds Monk floating in the air.
I had been looking forward to doing this all week. I remembered the evenings spent with my dad, covered in the smell kerosine, learning how cones and cups and bearings and races worked to come together and let my bike effortlessly roll along to my next destination.
So I approached the bike in question and gently placed it in the work stand. I took off the wheels and the chain and then... What next? No hubs to overhaul (sealed and external adjustments), the rims as true as the day I brought them home, no headset to rebuild (Chris King - a year old), no friction shifters to take apart and clean (D/A), no pedals to rebuild (Speedplay - squirt and ride). No real maintenance else where. Oh sure, there are the cables to inspect, the pivot points to lube, torque to check on stems and bars, etc - and as some sort of sadistic salvation - the hand grenade D/A BB to repack.
I somehow felt cheated by the technology at hand. Am I insane or does any one else miss those "good" old days of hours spent getting things just right on this marvelous contraption?

P.S. Off to service my Lefty - will probably change my tune after that...
If this is true...rideslikeagirl
Apr 5, 2002 3:31 PM
Then I'd like to know what the heck my husband's doing wrong! He spends HOURS on our bikes every couple weeks. ;)

Actually, I know what he's doing - him and that bottle of Simple Green keep the girls lookin' sweet.

Hang in there, Jekyll - somethings bound to need tinkering sooner or later.
the art of cones and cupsTig
Apr 5, 2002 3:50 PM
My dad wasn't into bikes until this year (he's 69... never too late!) so I learned the art of packing and adjusting hubs on my own, with a little help from Bicycling magazine back when it was good.

There's something magic about getting a high quality hub tuned juuuuust right. The same goes with getting that last hop out of a rim. Making a machine almost purr is one of those guy things I guess!
It's theraputic and satisfyingStraightblock
Apr 5, 2002 4:58 PM
to work on something and have it perform better than before. That's something missing with so many of our modern "disposable" consumer goods that can't be rebuilt or repaired, or whose cost of repair exceeds the cost of replacement. Who gets a VCR fixed? It's cheaper to buy a new one.

When I worked at the LBS long ago, I spent most of the day working on low-end kids' bikes and cheap "10-speeds", so it was a joy to work with the quality of my own bikes during lunch or at home. There was even some satisfaction working on the customers' junkers, having a spacious shop fully stocked with tools.

Now in middle age, I have a different perspective. I still enjoy working on my bikes, whether tuning the retro stuff or learning the intricacies of an STI lever or a suspension fork. But as a middle class homeowner & parent of two young boys, time is much more precious. I appreciate the reliability and lack of maintenance required of today's bikes. When a window of opportunity for riding comes up, I can usually just pump the tires & head out the door. But my youngest son loves to watch me overhaul a hub or headset, or tweak a wheel, so I'm looking forward to passing on some of the knowledge & craftsmanship.
re: Missing the good old days (maybe)..DINOSAUR
Apr 5, 2002 5:59 PM
I don't miss the 'old days'. Todays bikes are lighter, better handling, more responsive, easier to work on and there are so many, many to choose from. A bike for everyone's taste and pocketbook. Lord knows, never would have thought in my dying days that I would be riding an aluminum bike with a carbon fiber fork, brake levers that double function as brakes and shifting gears, clipless pedals, co2 instead of a frame pump, jerseys that the pros wear, cycling shorts that don't have crinkled taco leather chamois, lightweight clincher tires, helmets that function as well as a fashion statement along with protecting your nogin, cycling shoes with velcro or buckles instead of shoe laces (did I miss anything?) And you can sit here at you computer and order all this stuff online and it will be delivered to your door. Nope, I don't miss the good old days...well, I miss the good old days when traffic was a lot lighter. Now you have to cycle a little bit further to get away from it all...
well stated, dino nmSlipstream
Apr 6, 2002 4:54 AM
Try this.....grzy
Apr 5, 2002 6:35 PM
Go taco the front wheel on your Lefty and then try to get it back up and running....that should keep you busy and happy for a while. ;-)

I've got years of rebuilding marginal French, Italian, Japanese, English crap and don't miss those days. With a fleet of bikes (mine plus the wife's) and whatever strays friends bring over I'm very happy about the state of things. It's like saying you miss working on old British sports cars and sniffing glue - somethings are better left as a fond and hazy memory. Given how much abuse the MTB sees I'm pretty relieved that good road bikes are as relaible as a Honda Civic.

Maybe we're just a little spoiled out here in California, but we pretty much ride all year round - nothing at all like growing up in New England.
you may be rightJekyll
Apr 6, 2002 8:41 AM
I have a fleet as well (6 in all including the girlfriend), plus strays, etc. And I've tacoed the front wheel on my Lefty too. Really not too bad to rebuild (so long as you have an adaptor for the hub for your stand).
I'm not really whining/bitching/ranting about the lack of failure of components or lack of required maintenance as compared to years gone by. The Honda Civic like reliability of modern road bikes is not a bad thing by long shot. And, as some one said above it is a beautiful thing to pump the tires and go. Its just that at some moments in your life you find solace in the simple things like working on a bike or a car or your house.
I remember tearing apart the first bike I ever road raced (a Schwinn World Sport - took me all summer of mowing local lawns to buy). I enjoyed that process (I also had a bit more time then :-). I remember how ecstatic I was after I got my first job and talked my dad into loaning me the cash to buy a Canny R900 (fire engine red) with Super Record on it. I also remember spinning wrenches for a living for a bit in school and how much I learned to dislike the process and the customers and how poorly it paid.
Now being a bit older and stuck between clients, partners, and permanently parked in either an airplane seat or in front of a PC I miss those days. I guess that taking the bike apart, the way it used to be, is somehow cathartic for me. And at those moments, the simple pleasure of the old, cantankerous ways of bike maintenance are sorely missed.
And, I do miss old cars as well. I spent most of my time and money in college under various old Porsche's (914's and 944 Turbos). I miss that as well. Just like my bikes, my cars are now far more reliable and have a lot less to work on. I would be pretty offended if my Bimmer did not start when I turn the key. When that occurred with the 914 is was an all too familiar challenge (a far rarer one than those experienced by my friends with Spitfires, TR6's, et al.)
Am I turning into a retro grouch at 33? Think the ball and chain would notice a few more bikes and a 2002 Tii in the garage?
best of both worldsgtx
Apr 6, 2002 5:24 PM
I'm 33 too and am pretty much a retro grouch by necessity--can't afford most of the new stuff. So my late 80s/early 90s road bikes sport UN72 bbs and cartridge headsets and Speedplays and the latest and greatest Conti tires. To be honest, the rest of the stuff--STI, carbon forks, spendy pre-built wheels, etc., doesn't really interest me that much. Man, I'm even a retrogrouch with mtbs--still like my mid-90s Ibis Mojo with cantis (though I would sure wouldn't mind a new Ventana or Titus full squishy with discs). I like old cars, too--like the Tii you mentioned. And a Tii today is probably better than when they were new thanks to the better tires you can get today.
re: Missing the good old days (maybe)..bic
Apr 5, 2002 9:05 PM
Yea, like removing the axles, bottom bracket, and head set over a coffee can filled with gas to catch the loose bearings. Cotton cut offs and bowling shoes. Work stand?. Just turn the thing upside down after removing all the cables. Oh, and don't forget the grease when you replace the cables. Rags everywhere, to clean the hubs, headset, bottom bracket. And that last sweet sound!!! Taking the wheel and holding it up to your ear and giving it a big spin, oh don't forget that some rear hubs use different bearings then the front!!

Do I miss them, only in my memory!:)!
aahh, sweet memoriesSlipstream
Apr 6, 2002 4:43 AM
nicely written; my wife is wondering why the computer suddenly smells like oil & kero ;>)
Back to the future: the good ol' days 20-30 years from now?Slipstream
Apr 6, 2002 4:59 AM
Dino is right, there is something to be said about technology. is the bain of progress more traffic & congestion? how're we ever to enjoy all this technology?

what will be the good ol' days 20-30 years from now? sitting around in a virtual room remeniscing with our cyber buddies on a 3D screen about the times when we could actually ride on a real road?