Goodbye, Old Friend

I’ve bought and sold a lot of bikes and frames over the years.  Some were bikes that I meant to restore/refurbish and pass on, others were bikes that I rode for a while and decided against keeping them as daily riders. Letting a bike go doesn’t really mean much about the bike itself, but does mean something about the rider.  Each of us has unique interests, passions, body geometry, needs, desires, and energy, and some of these might change over time.  The right bike will be transformative.  Knowing when to let go of a bike is an elusive skill set.  Here are a few bikes I’ve passed on for others to enjoy:

A 1960’s Raleigh Royale, converted to 2 speed:  This bike was one of my forays into single speed riding.  I kept the close ratio double front crank, and used a single speed freewheel at the rear, with no front derailleur.  Riding this bike helped me realize how much I didn’t want to ride single speed or fixed.  The idea was that I would move the chain by hand on the front (a la the old days before front derailleurs) and then move the hub in the dropouts to adjust chain tension.  In practice, I never did this.

A Bridgestone X0-5:  this bike came to me with all original but low-end components.  I removed those and replaced them with some much nicer parts., including a SunTour Sprint crankset.  The very nice Cro-Mo frame on these bikes is the same as the higher end versions, and so with a bit of upgrading this was a wonderful bike to ride.  I kind of regret selling it now, but on several occasions I’ve spotted this bike out in Portland’s wild, ridden by its very happy new owner.

A Reynolds 531 Cilo Pacer:  this was my first foray into Swiss bikes.  Cilo went bankrupt in 2002, but prior to that was known for building some very nice machines.  The frame had some minor rust, and the components were racing oriented.  I decided to pass the bike on without building it up, as I wasn’t sure it would be right for me.  It was equipped with a full Campy groupset, which I saved, and ended up selling the frame to a very interested younger cyclist.

A 1979 Large Peugeot Mixte:  this basic Carbolite 103 Mixte was actually really fun to ride.  Everything on this bike worked well, with very little restoration needed.  It’s an extra large mixte – perfect for taller commuting cyclists, and features a front bottle dynamo, working perfectly.  I hope whoever has this bike is enjoying it.

A Schwinn Passage touring bike:  this is the bike that “got away”, and I now wish I still had this one in my stable.  It’s an amazingly competent and practical touring bike that works equally well for commuting and sport riding.

An Early 1980’s Davidson:  I wanted to love this bike, but never was able to come to terms with its geometry.  I put a lot of miles on the bike before selling the frame and fork to a cyclist planning a touring adventure.  I kept the original Shimano 600 components, transferring many of them to my early 1990’s Terry Symmetry.

If a bike doesn’t feel right for you, even after making a few modifications, then it’s time to pass it on to another rider.  A bike that gets ridden adds so much value to the whole scheme of life.  Bikes are highly personal, very unlike cars.  The comfort of the cyclist is paramount, so don’t feel bad about selling a bike on.  Its new owner may find a lifelong friend.

19 thoughts on “Goodbye, Old Friend

  1. Always happy to see your posts..Enjoy reading,pictures and general information..wish there were a few more..Thank you and stay safe..

    • Sometimes it is hard to know when or if it’s time to let one go. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that my own Schwinn Passage needs to go. I love this bike, but it’s just a bit big for me. I’d be happy to let you see it, Nola, if you’d like to get one back in your stable.

  2. Those lower-end Bridgestone XOs were still great bikes. I had a ’92 XO-3, a 700C version that is pretty comparable to the XO-5. I also upgraded some of the parts, and it was fun to ride. I sold it to “make way” for my custom, which didn’t actually arrive until a year later. In retrospect, I really wish I hung onto that bike for at least another year, if not longer.

  3. Meanwhile, I heard from the owner of the Schwinn Passage via a mutual friend. Here’s what she had to say:
    “I’m so grateful for the Schwinn, which is again now (finally! I’m car free again!) my primary/only vehicle. Having a reliable, tough, and not-heavy bike is just everything ❤. (Plus dark blues are my favorite color!) Please pass my continuing thanks to Nola; I hope it makes her feel a little better knowing the bike is still very appreciated.”

  4. Documenting a bicycle that you let go allows you to keep the best thing about it: the memory of what it was that made it different from the bikes that went before and the ones yet to come. Thanks for sharing.

    • I was aiming for a more philosophical than sentimental tone. So, I hear Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. “I’ve looked at bikes from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow it’s bikes illusions I recall. I really don’t know bikes, at all”. Apologies to JM.

  5. I have only sold a few bikes through the years and it is always cool to see the smile on the new owner’s face. I don’t normally sell bikes, that is why I have like 15 racing bicycles! I have a nice shop so I don’t have to worry about storage. I have another one coming from the east coast as we speak, a grail bike if you will. I will write a bit about it after I have a chance to ride it! Joe

  6. Thanks for the interesting post which strikes some chords since I’ve owned and passed on (ie, sold) a number of similar bikes. But first, a couple of questions:

    How do you like the Moustache bars? Are those the Nitto originals? I’ve tried them on 6 or 8 bikes, and forlornly try them again every 2 or 3 years hoping that things will change, but always find that they hurt my left palm after a few miles, no matter how set up.

    What are the bars on the XO-5 and the mixte, and how do you like *them*? Arc bar on the Bridgestone? I’m trying to decide if I should replace the stock mtb bar on my new-to-me Monocog 29er with something that has more rearward curve.

    I’ve ridden largely fixed gears on the road for the last 15 years, and only recently got a multispeed (1956 SA AM hub; lovely hub) wheel as a second wheel for my new road bike, but I do have a wide range 10-speed double on my road-bike-like dirt road bike (not the Monocog, obviously).

    Please keep up the interesting posts.

    • Thanks, Patrick. I no longer use mustache bars. For me, drop bars offer better comfort unless the bike has a short top tube, but if I’m going with non drop bars I’d rather have something with some rise. The “Noah’s Ark” bars on the X0-5 were okay, but have no rise so you might need a taller stem if using them for commuting.

  7. Too relatable! I picked up a Trek 360 frame earlier this year for $10 and thought I could build it into a fun commuter/grocery bike. I misjudged tire clearances and can’t fit anything larger than 25’s on there. Combine that with a stiff steel frame and bumpy bike paths and it is NOT comfortable. I toyed with the idea of converting it to 650b, but I don’t love the frame enough to drop that money into it.

    Lesson learned — it’s in the garage now and will either be scavenged for parts, or find its way to an owner who’s excited about a zippy racing bike.

    All that said, the experience was still fun, and I learned a lot for the next project. Thanks for sharing! I just found this site and am enjoying exploring around.

  8. Thanks for your memories! I have trouble selling bikes, I love them! I do give them away to those deserving and appreciative people, but I just don’t know enough cyclists (I’m a solo rider) to get rid of enough. Presently my space is storing about 50 riders, and 30 frames with enough parts to complete most of them; from the ’30s to the present, from $30 to thousands of dollars in value, common and rare.

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