Sunday, August 30, 2009

Best Out of A Bad Situation

The Zvirman situation was over a month ago. As distasteful as it was to have someone threaten to shoot me and then run over my bike, my goal was to make the best of it and then put it behind me. The old bike was my commuter. Also, I originally got it to ride to DC in the Summer of 2007. It served that purpose and then served as a great commuter bike for 2 years. During that period I made many upgrades. Also my needs changed.
After buying the cyclocross, I upgraded to a nicer road bike which I use for long rides almost every weekend and for charity rides. The cyclocross was reduced to bad weather rides and going to work and back.
We also got a second home out of state. So after the cyclocross was destroyed I thought it would be nice to have a bike that was specifically designed for commuting, and a second quality road bike that I could leave at the vacation home so I wouldn't have to worry about bringing my road bike back and forth. I settled with the insurance company for a little less than $1600, which I decided to use as my budget for the two bikes.
As described in the last post, I bought a single speed Raleigh One Way for a little over $600. I had a pair of old clipless pedals to throw on and now I have a great commuter that should make me a stronger climber.
As for the second goal - the road bike: I found a two season old Orbea Onix carbon fiber frame on Ebay for a little over $400. I had always admired i.e. drooled over..Orbeas, which are hand-made in Spain and a favorite of professional riders. From the old bike I was able to salvage the Ultegra rear drive train, chain and cassette, the Specialized Body Geometry seat, the stem, handlebars and Tiagra brake lever/shifters. I purchased off of Ebay a nice set of Ultegra a brakes and a Felt carbon fiber seat post, total cost for these parts: about $90. I then found a very nice new wheel set made by Vuelta and under 1600 grams for $220. Vuelta is a lesser known brand, but I had a set on my cross bike. They held up great, never had to be trued, almost withstood a 6000 lb Armada, and always spun free. From my parts bin I had an Ultegra bottom bracket and crankset that had been on my Madone before I upgraded to a carbon compact, and a Dura ace front derailleur. I also bought a pair of Shimano pedals and tires at REI for $100 (with my spouse discount), bringing my total for the frame and parts to @ $800. Pittsburgh's best mechanics, Jordan and Ted at REI put it together for me. Today I took it for a nice ride up Mt. Troy, down Spring Garden and around town. The frame is very stable and supple. It tracks great. Overall the bike is probably a little heavier than my Madone, but still quite light. I'm extremely pleased. If there is one weakness it may be that the handlebar and stem are heavy since they were specked for the cyclocross bike. I've found the same bars as I have on my Madone and a stem from a complete Onix that I will eventually use to solve that problem. I also may look to upgrade from the Tiagra levers and shifters, although they shift crisp.

The accident and confrontation with Zvirman was quite distasteful on many levels. I learned that no matter how unsafe and rude a driver can be, ignore them and keep riding by. I also was able to replace a beloved bike with two that I think I will learn to like even more.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Raleigh One Way

Ever since Mr. Zvirman ran over my cyclocross bike I have been riding a 20 year old woman's Cannondale hybrid that had been in storage. The Cannondale was a little too small. It was aluminum with an aluminum fork. This was state of the art in the late 80's when my wife bought the bike. Today it got me to work, but was heavy and a bit unforgiving when you hit Pittsburgh's abundant bad pavement. The Motobecane cyclocross also was aluminum, but it was a good fit, fairly light and had a carbon fork to smooth out the aluminum ride a bit. On the other hand I am quite spoiled by my carbon fiber road bike that I ride on the weekends and on longer rides.

As unreasonable as Mr. Zvirman had been the day of the altercation, his insurance company Merchant's was professional and reasonable to deal with. We agreed upon on equitable amount to reimburse me for the destroyed Motobecane, and I was allowed to keep it's remains. There is just about enough money to buy a commuter bike and a frame and other parts necessary to build a new road bike using what is still functional from the Motobecane.

I decided to go in a new direction for the commuter bike. Instead of simply taking all of the money and getting a new cyclocross I decided to get a true commuter. The bike I chose is a Raleigh One Way. It's a very retro all steel single speed bike. Throw back features include a leather Brooks seat and handle bar tape, nice detail work on the frame, fenders, a shiny bell and pump and oversized bullet proof tires. All for a fairly reasonable price of slightly over $600. The Raleigh name is nostalgic to me. I had a 5 speed Raleigh folding bike in high school and college back in the 70's. It was a heavy beast, but cool. The One Way is neither heavy nor light. The lack of any components saves weight on what would be a heavy bike if geared. I would estimate it to be about 2 pounds heavier than the pre-Zvirman cyclocross. Gearing on the bike is 16/42. On the flats it's not as fast as the cyclocross or road bike, but it's not painfully slow like a single speed 29er I used to have. The commute to work takes about the same time as it did before, but I just can't reach as high a top speed on the Jail Trail. So far I haven't put a bike computer on the One Way and don't think I will as it seems to be bad karma for this retro machine.

The steel frame and fork are a pleasure. Instead of getting a jarring vibration transmitting through my body as I hit a pothole, the steel frame deadens the paved imperfections. It's not as supple as carbon, but the ride is just perfect for commutes through Pittsburgh's miserable streets. The other issue that I was wondering about is climbing in a single speed. My ride home takes me from the city's lowest point downtown to my home at one of the highest elevations in the East End. I ride from the Jail Trail through the Panther Hollow Trail and either up through Boundary Street to 5th Ave or through the CMU cut through to Flagstaff and the Golf Course. The gearing of the bike makes the climb manageable. I'm not so sure I would want to take it up Greenleaf or Sycamore, but that's not really why I have this bike. For long distance and climbing I have the road bike. The only problem so far with the bike is a defect on one of the water bottle brazeons. I can't get the screw out to mount a bottle cage. I'm sure the dealer will be able to take care of this.

The second phoenix of the Zvirman incident is still being built up. I bought a used carbon Orbea frame on Ebay at a nice price, and also picked up some Ultegra brakes and a carbon seat post. Either from the Motobecane or from my parts bin I had almost all of the rest of the components I needed. I did need to buy new wheels and pedals. The bike will be ready to go for the Sunday ride next week. I'll report back then.