Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bolts to fly, curses to throw... the next Monster Bicycle challenge is JUST! AROUND! THE CORNER!!

So maybe it's all the fault of the Discovery Channel, and how they seem to feature dudes with welders more often than dudes with microscopes. Or maybe it goes back to a youth spent worshipping ZZ Top, reading CarTOONS magazine (George Trosley, represent!) and Frankensteining one useable ten-speed out of a pile of garage-sale junkers, but I've been feeling the need for a bad-ass pedal powered hot rod of late. You know the drill: laid-back seat, low slung stance, pedals pushed forward and a long springer fork topped by a big ol' set of ape hangers. (Metalflake paint and some bad ass pinstriping would be the icing on the cake.

Problem is, I haven't got a welder (or the knowledge to use it--however, a friend just returned from BC with a welding ticket, so I might have someone's brains to pick on that score) and I'm too cheap to drop $500+ on an Electra or the like. Hell, I'm even too cheap to drop $200 on one of those new school choppers like the Schwinn OCC Stingray, West Coast Choppers bike or the others--not knowing that I'm gonna have to tear the whole thing apart and reassemble it myself properly*, and then sink some coin into customising it so it reflects me and not some corporate focus group. Fahgeddaboutit.

So, unless and until I can weld & fab my own frames (and there's the lazy thing there to contend with...), I'm sorta looking for a good deal on an old-school Schwinn cruiser or similar. Until then, though, I've picked up an old Apollo Dee-Lite 10 speed. Came with chrome fenders (oooh, shiny!) and a nifty analog speedo. Nice patina, good example of vintage speed, and in spite of the quite frankly horrible shape of the tires, it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. So I rewarded the old girl--the "El Rattletrap Special", as I think of her--with some chrome goodies today.

Item one: Any job like this, requires the sacrifice of at least one small tool and/or bolt to the Lawn Gods. One of these days, I'm gonna need to actually get proper screwdrivers rather than these dinky-ass screwdriver bits for my El Cheapo pawnshop cordless socket driver.

Item two: Getting it apart is always easier than putting it back together.

Item three: All the "mechanics for dummies" books in the world can't stress enough the importance of properly sorting and labelling all the little bits that come off something you're disassembling. I say they can't emphasise this enough because, well, they *haven't*. Seriously, dudes, I still ain't doin' that, and it's gonna take a whole lot more bold print to change my foolish ways.

Item four: With the ape hangers installed, and my fork lying in pieces as I scratch my head over how to install my new springer, which has a. too big of a diameter tubing for my headset and b. no threads to screw it together, my roommate arrives.

He: "What's goin' on?"
Me: "I bought some ape hangers and a springer fork for my bike. Can't figure the fork out, but the ape hangers are gonna look BAD ASS."
He: "Uh... yeah. Looks, uh, good." (While, no doubt, thinking: "Dork." Guilty as charged, boyeee.)

I should point out, *his* two wheeled paragon of rolling koolness (a Harley FXR Lowrider) has a multi-million dollar industry devoted solely to making them look shinier and more outlandish, but hey, they cost more, so they're cooler, right?

Item four: Ahh, screw the springers, put the stock fork on and Get 'R Done. Funny how one simple piece of bent metal can make a bike feel so different. She rides great, though.

[*] Next time you're at Wally World, take a look at how many display bikes have handlebars on loose, fenders misaligned, etc., and then tell me "free assembly" is a good deal...

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