a quality of life issue

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November 16, 2013

refurbishing a sweet steel bike is like cooking in a cast iron skillet. it's a strong foundation upon which to build.  minced garlic in fresh butter with diced onion. it could go in many directions from there. possible permutations abound. it radiates quality solidity wholesome goodness and positive energy. proven technology. no fluffy trendy shit. and it's appetizing.  a little iron oxide is good for you once in while and so is bacon grease.

refurbishing an aluminum bike is like frying an egg in a nonstick skillet slathered in nonstick spray. it's uninspired perfunctory pedestrian beige blase chunky chubby hollow and tinny. it's a shallow audible exhale followed by a pause leaving you wanting something more or at least to inhale but when you finally do all you get is a mouth full of acrid smoke from the Pam overspray on the burner. 

aluminum is the most abundant element on earth and aluminum bikes are abundant and affordable and provide plenty of opportunities for  reliable transportation and accessable recreation however when my queue at work is filled with  knobby-tired grip-shifted front suspension aluminum steeds of indistinction   time seems to slow down and things get heavy.  6061  7005 ok ok 220 221 whatever it takes. Treks are a dime a dozen.  Cannondales make great cheater bars. Kleins are the Jaguars of aluminum bikes and Jaguars are over priced Ford Tempos.

refurbishing a carbon fiber bike is like overheating your lunchables tray in the microwave. random invisible hot spots and meltdowns. resins and epoxy and processed cheese foods oriented in a plastic matrix. lots of things that do not occur in nature. used carbon bikes should be sold as-is at-your-own-risk at rock bottom prices.  carbon fiber can do some amazing things. there is no other bike in the pro peloton. there is no other bike in your local cat 4 crit. but that doesn't mean I have to like it or trust it or ride it or refurbish it.

if it sounds like I'm biased or judgmental or an anachronistic grumpy old wool underpants guy, I am. I spend my work day saving the world    refurbishing old bikes.  It's kind of like being a bike mechanic except I don't have to wrastle with customer's unique and difficult bikes or bogus bike choices. I get to strip off all the worn out parts and annoying accessories, u-lock holders, cycle computers, seat mounted tri bottle holders, broken reflector brackets, bar ends and sheepskin saddle covers and then rebuild the bike the way I see fit with behind the scenes access to an unparalleled selection of used bike parts, fresh brake pads, new tires, chains, cables and housing. 


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Chris Murray said...

As the owner of two awesome Kleins and one fast Carbon rocket I must say that I enjoy them. I do get it, and my next ride will be a cold steel road bike set up to hold weight and get me from sea to shining sea. What do you Mr. Pilder think of the Salsa Vaya? Cheers

Posted November 17, 2013 08:41 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder replied to Chris Murray...

cheers to you too. and I know that you know me well enough to not take any of this shit personally. word. And I can't say I really know anything about the Vaya except first impressions from flipping though a few reviews. I haven't actually touched one. But I think it looks versatile and sporty and fun to ride but for fully-loaded touring as in Seattle to Boston, a more "traditional" beefy touring bike would be better under load. The sporty geometry and relatively light frame wouldn't feel so stable or inspire confidence bombing down the backside of a mountain pass with 4 or 5 stuffed panniers. But a Salsa Vaya would be a great addition to your stable of bikes and the gravel roads of Iowa would look a bit different with that between your legs.

Posted November 17, 2013 09:56 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder said...

Mr. Murray perhaps you can look at an All City Space Horse or a Surly Long Haul Trucker. All City and Surly and Salsa are all under the giant QBP umbrella so your local bike shop should be able to get their hands on any of them.

Posted November 17, 2013 10:06 AM | Reply to this comment

. said...

buying a refurbished carbon bike sounds like buying a used bike helmet or any other helmet at a thrift store. maybe one up that with a kids car seat from the thrift store but strap the seat with zip ties to a bob trailer then add your kid. in the end a frame is only as good as the wheel set.

Posted November 18, 2013 08:56 AM | Reply to this comment

Buster Olson said...

Aluminum is the third most abundant element on earth behind Oxygen and Silicon, which by my calculations still makes steel the best possible bike frame material and you no less of an amazing writer.

Posted November 19, 2013 02:58 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder replied to ....

I clamped the kid trailer to the Shogun yesterday in the rain and the whole bike toppled over onto the non-drive rear triangle clamp mechanism with a dull thud. No problem. I like to imagine the crackling splintering sickening sounds of a trailer on a carbon bike. The chainstays would look a lot like Bill Brady's borrowed bike a few RAGBRAIs ago.

Posted November 19, 2013 06:35 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder replied to Buster Olson...

maybe the over abundance of aluminum at work some days starts to compete with the oxygen supply and that's why things get so heavy and slow. word. I need a giant periodic table for the shop

Posted November 19, 2013 06:37 AM | Reply to this comment

golden brown flaky crust said...


Posted November 19, 2013 06:47 AM | Reply to this comment

oh three said...

it's nice to have blog entries from pilder still come up in conversation in this tired but ever present and dwindling community of seattle messengers. i miss (not really) hiding out at 1200 5th and having a road master with ya dude. happy early father's day. B-cup

Posted November 21, 2013 07:04 PM | Reply to this comment

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