I really didn’t start putting noticeable mileage on a bicycle until a couple of years ago when a friend talked me into signing up for AIDS/LifeCycle 5. At the time, I was really into climbing and surfing and my friend had mentioned how cycling was not only a blast, but a great way to create cardiovascular strength that would actually help the other two sports.
So I bought a nice, but used bicycle and started to adventure around the S.F. Bay Area. It was a great contrast to being confined to city limits, and I loved how I could travel 60, 80, 100+ miles in a day without burning an ounce of gasoline. Although I’ve owned a car most of my post 16 life, I did try the car-free life for a span of six and eight months. I began to incorporate bicycle commuting to work to the gym, you name it. Cycling consumed more and more of my day almost to the point of obsession.
However, I came to one sad realization.
Owning a bicycle can at times be a lot like owning a car. Maintenance is never cheap and once you put enough miles on one, you wonder if all the money you’re putting towards repairs is better spent on a new bike. (The bike I own probably has over 10,000 miles on it including the mileage put on by the bike’s previous owner and I’ve probably spent more on maintenance than I purchased the bike for).
One thing I have learned in terms of bicycle maintenance is that you usually get what you pay for. Every time I have tried to save a few dollars by going the discount route, I usually end up with a problem that could have easily been remedied by spending the extra money for time tested, reputable products. There have been several times where I’ve bought a component and had to replace it prematurely only to realize that at that point I had spent enough to buy the premium component that would’ve lasted.
And what’s worse, I’ve attempted at some of the more complicated repairs only to bring my bicycle into the shop in defeat.
The most recent time has really been a drag. I attempted to rebuild a hub that was beginning to sound bad and ended up spending a day trying to hunt down impossible to find, Italian bits and pieces. I was even told by one bike mechanic to throw the wheel away because it was unsafe and wasn’t worth the money it would cost to rebuild.
Long story short, I’ve been collecting estimates for what it would cost to bring my bike back from its crippled condition to the endurance athlete it once was and it’s sounding like its going to cost more than the bike is worth. Funny thing is that retiring this bike is almost an emotional thing for me. I’ve put probably ridden the majority of the entire miles I’ve ridden on a bicycle on this particular bike.
However, with every bad comes good. I’ve been looking into new bicycles and have finally decided upon one. It’s a bike that was built for a friend of mine by a custom bicycle builder from Davis, California. I already own one bike built by this particular builder and love it. And in fact, both bikes were built at the same time with the same body symmetry in mind. I’ve reached deeper into my pockets knowing that the attention to detail will really benefit me in the long run.
When buying a handmade bicycle, you are typically buying better components as well as a custom frame. During initial rides, it may feel similar, but it’s really down the road that sets a handmade bike apart from the rest. And in addition, you are supporting someone who is just as passionate about building a bike as you are about riding one.
Now I have two bicycle built by Kimo at Innerlight Cycles. Here’s the newest addition: