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.