People dump bikes outside the gates of the local bicycle co-op all the time, so often that it’s a regular chore to haul them in every time we open the gates. Last week, I was greeted by an old folding bike in really rough shape, wheels tossed into the garbage bin. The slightly faded coral red frame caught my attention, and since it turned into a slow day at the shop, I decided to try to make it rideable.
The initial inspection revealed the frame’s fatal flaw – a home welding job is all that’s holding the front crossbar to the folding plate and the resulting angle of the tube is slightly, but noticeably off.
The weld seemed to be holding, so I decided to take a chance on investing the work to fix it up. The first step was to rebuild the bottom bracket that had been left in a disgraceful state. The adjustable cup was missing, the threads of the shell were stripped out, and the spindle was attached to crank arms of 2 different sizes. Luckily, EBC is fully equipped with tools and old parts, and I’m equipped with the know-how to use them.
I straightened out and reattached the fenders, overhauled the coaster hub, added pedals, grips, tires, changed the seat, removed the remains of a built in generator system and, since I’ve taken these pictures, overhauled the headset and embarked on a campaign of rust removal and shine-up. I still need to find a suitable replacement for the quick release levers on the seat, stem, and fold, which are made of a plastic that is so degraded that it comes off in massive amounts of white powder every time they’re touched.
But why put so much work into a bike with a broken heart, who’s frame could fracture again tomorrow?
The answer is simple: this bike is an absolute joy to ride.
It’s peppy, responsive, and maneuverable, and the riding position is comfortably upright. It’s a bike that gets in and out of tight places with ease.
I now understand why Keith and some of the other EBC mechanics are so crazy for their twenty’s: while riding one of those bikes it’s impossible to not be happy. Sure it’s a little demanding of the mechanic who wants to race over the High Level Bridge on it, cranking 120rpm, but my other bikes have been easy on me lately and I need a change and a challenge, and perhaps some adventures on a bicycle with a tragic past.