Spending precious time maintaining and overhauling stuff that already exists and can be replaced with something new and shiny is considered a waste of time in current U.S. culture. Why not just buy whatever you want on Amazon and be done with it? Then, your free time can be spent on other time-wasting activities that do not involve brain power, pride of workmanship, and plain old satisfaction in a job well done. Instead, no analysis is given to the environmental cost of throw away technology, not to mention the cost to your creativity and skill set.
Even if you are not a Buddhist, you may be able to appreciate the joy one can derive from honoring the work of one’s elders. Every time I overhaul a vintage bicycle I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm and respect for the work of those innovators who came before me. Bicycle lore, including engineering concepts and technological breakthroughs, was well established by the early 20th century, a fact which will shock many cyclists today.
Derailleur design, frame geometry, tubing construction, hub generators, gear ratios, and many other concepts were worked out long ago, and very elegantly. Modern components focus only on simplicity for the cyclist rather than on something which will endure over the ages.
Vintage components were designed to last over decades of use. That’s what makes my job so restorative to my soul.
This evening as I walked into my shop I smiled with joy at the classic machines I am privileged to ride, including this 1975 Centurion Semi Pro. Tomorrow will be a dry day here in Pdx, and I’m looking forward to my bicycle commute – and smiling because I don’t even know which bicycle I will choose. Working on all these wonderful vintage bicycles is an honor, and I hope, a job well done.