Tuesday, January 12, 2010

pain in the butt

On my last (how poetic) day of commuting in 2009, my beloved Trek passed away. It was a bitter sweet moment of course. With a broken frame, I quickly realized that I'd soon be riding on my more modest, more unattractive, and uncomfortable "backup" bike.

I should be grateful that I even have (had) two bikes... so I am. I was.

This year, as with the past two, I'm recording the amount of miles I ride my bike. It's fun, harmless, and a geeky thing to do. As the miles start to pile up on my backup bike - I was really feeling motivated to getting a new bike. My back up is just plain uncomfortable.

One reason is the saddle. It's the classic 80's road saddle. Plastic, with a quarter inch thick layer of foam spread over it. It also happens to be somewhat narrow, so when I'm sitting on it, I really feel it. Zoiks.

As much as it offended my sense of aesthetics, I moved my brooks saddle over to my back up and my back side immediately thanked me. It is not fun to ride a bike on an uncomfortable saddle, and I was certainly cursing that narrow saddle.

The pain was exacerbated by the fact that I had been off the bike nearly three weeks, so I reckon I had lost some of the... "callous" one develops when they spend a lot of time on their bike.

The other pain in the butt I've been forced to face head on is the process of finding another bike. For those of us who's preference in bikes cannot be satiated by hopping into the nearest big box retailer, or even a local LBS without special order, these can be trying times.

I decided that this time around, I'm going full-on commuter tour frame. Full braze ons for racks, fenders, front and back. My trek 330 was only a pretender, probably known as a sport-touring frame back in its inception (1989).

So where does a bicyclist with a penchant for lugged, steel, touring minded bikes turn to? The first two sources should be obvious by now, but nonetheless bears repeating.

1. Ebay
2. Craigslist

A couple of tips for finding bikes on both of these heavily visited sites:

To save time on Ebay, you can create "saved" searches. If you are looking for something specific like a "Trek 400" it gives you the option to save your search, and when anyone lists something matching that criteria - you get an email. Awesome!

Craigslist is a whole separate beast. Good advice is - if you are pretty determined to find something and are getting skunked in your area, try searching in neighboring areas, like Orange or Ventura County.

Also, here's a tip to using google that will allow you to search ALL craigslist listings for your term, in one stroke:

site:craigslist.org "whatever you want to search"

Then google will pull up whatever you are looking for, from all the craigslists around the world. Buying on craigslist from someone who isn't in your town might be a little tricky - best advice I can give is look for a friend who lives in that city and ask them to scope it out for you.

Other sources include general online classifieds, forums (adventure cycling, bikeforums), and your friend network.

Speaking of network - hey readers, I'm looking for a mid 80's - 90's touring frame. 61cm or bigger.

Any advice you guys have to buying a bike online? What's worked for you?


Jonah said...

Bummer about the Trek. You might want to include frames or framesets in your search, too - you may be able to transfer most or all of your components.

There are also places out there in the world that can fix a steel frame (I’ve never done it, but here’s one example from the web):

Good luck getting your ride sorted out. Have a great year of riding!

Munckster said...

Patience. You can find great deals on craigslist but it can take a while for the right deal to appear. If you are on a budget, playing the waiting game beats paying a premium at a bike shop. I spent over a year checking craigslist for my last purchase but when I finally found it, I got a smoking deal.

Have you thought about changing the stem on your backup bike? It could do a lot for your comfort level. If it's a newer bike, stems are inexpensive and easy to replace. If it's an older quill stem like your dead bike you could try moving the stem (and even the handlebars) over to your backup bike. I've found stem adjustments to be very helpful on my comfort level and it's a lot cheaper than a new bike.

david said...

so i found my bike... in the city of brotherly love of all places.

just waiting for it to be shipped.

hey munckster, thanks for stopping by!

i did think about switching out the stem, the only problem is that i'd like to use that on my new bike...and undoing the current handlebar set up would be quite confusing with all the cables, cross brakes, and what not. so i think i'm just going to suffer through it (it's not that bad) until i can get my bike together.

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