I believe I took delivery of this bicycle sometime around March or April of 2010, which makes the bike five (5) years old this spring. This is well beyond what most of the cycling media considers an appropriate period for a "long-term review." In fact, I don't even think the cycling media considers it acceptable to own a bicycle for five years. For the rest of us, however, five years means a bike is just getting broken in, so please allow me to update you.
This is a bike blog, we're gonna talk about bikes for a little bit, OK?
Here's what the bike looked like in the spring of 2010:
I added the pedals and the camping chair, but otherwise that's exactly how it came out of the box.
Since then, I have the following component changes or additions:
The bike would really benefit from a center stand but I've been to cheap and lazy to acquire and install one.
Oh, I also used one of these kiddie seats until my kid grew out of it:
And I have the Xtracycle WideLoaders for when shit gets real:
They are hugely helpful for carrying lots of stuff, but they have nailed me in the Achilles too many times:
The bike has been incredibly useful. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's been liberating, in the sense that you can pick up pretty much whatever you want when you're out and about without wearing a bag or giving any thought about how you're going to get it home. (Within reason, of course. I still take THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK to Ikea. I have nothing to prove in that regard.) Also, my kid can hop on the back and I can easily bring both him and his bike to the park--at least until he switches to the 20", which should be any day now.
As for maintenance, I do the absolute minimum, and considering the bike spends half the year outside and has exposed derailleurs and all the rest of it it's held up very well. Since 2010, I have only replaced a shift cable, a bottom bracket, and the brake pads. Ideally I should replace all the cables and housing, as the shifting is at about 80% right now, but it's not yet past my own personal laziness/action threshold for this particular bicycle. (The chain and cassette should probably also be replaced, but I don't feel like doing that either.) Also, incredibly, these are the original tires--though I should probably replace them this season as they're pretty worn, and I'm sure now that I've said something one of them is going to explode.
Otherwise, apart from the Mr. Whirly crank, which I personally find to be a bit fussy, the bike has given me nothing to think about.
Also, you need a place to keep it, which can be a challenge if you live in a city. Mine lives outside until winter, at which point I keep it in the basement. If I lived on a busy street in a 5th floor walk-up without a bike room then Big Dummy ownership might not be tenable. (Or at least I'd need four or five locks and a motorcycle cover--which, as a former motorcycle owner, I can assure you is yet another thing people steal in this town.)
So now you're up to date.
In any case, in the spirit of doing only essential maintenance, yesterday I replaced the brake pads again, as the rear pads were shot and the front pads had maybe 10 wet downhill stops left on them:
Rest assured that, in the spirit of thriftiness, I replaced them with used pads I removed from my mountain bike after changing to a different pad compound.
It's good to once again be confident in the Smugness Flotilla's stopping capacity, because all around are signs of springs. For one thing, the trash cans are blossoming:
In New York City, this is the universal sign for "pothole or sinkhole," and it's an exceedingly common sight this time of year.
Also, just this morning I was parking my bike:
When I spotted something in the distance:
What's more, that's not just any skunk. That's clearly cartoon star Pepé Le Pew stalking his paramour:
("Permit me to introduce myself. I am Pepé Le Pew, your lover.")
As Dave Chapelle has famously pointed out, that really was a disturbing cartoon in retrospect. They should have just called it "Pepe the Rape Skunk:
Anyway, like a spurned lover, Pepé ultimately retreated to his bachelor pad to watch skunk porn, and I retreated to my own abode to make the bike blog:
Admit it. You clicked on the skunk porn.
Speaking of life in America's Most Bike-Friendly City according to "Bicycling" magazine, here's something that happened:
A black man riding his bike in the street swerved to avoid a car that actually hit him — he and his bike fell onto the sidewalk. An officer arrived on the scene and arrested him on the charges of bike on the sidewalk and resisting arrest because the man initially pushed back when the officer put his hand on him from behind and the man did not know it was a cop touching him. The officer cuffed and locked up the man — not bringing him to the hospital though the man complained about a severe pain in his leg. Held overnight in jail, the man refused to agree to a plea when he appeared in court because he had done nothing wrong. Upon his release by the judge — he has a later court date for his trial — the man went immediately to a hospital where doctors diagnosed and began treating his fractured leg. He’s now looking for a lawyer to represent him in the criminal case and another attorney to bring his lawsuit against the city for wrongful arrest among other claims.
In reading this, I experienced a whole range of unpleasant emotions, none of which was surprise. Sadly, the moral of the story is two-fold:
1) Be white whenever possible;
2) When a driver hits you while you're riding a bicycle as the law entitles them to do, be careful where you land.
Assuming you can do both these things, then sure, I suppose "Bicycling" was right.
Of course, none of this really matters, because in the future riding outside is going to be obsolete anyway and we're all going to ride virtually instead:
Yes, virtual reality face masks will soon be the new helment:
I wonder if they can make one that works while you're actually riding outside. That way I could continue to live in New York, but my face mask would trick me into thinking I was in Portland.
Then, when a car sends me flying onto the sidewalk and the police arrest me, my virtual reality mask will make me think I'm being taken to a holistic day spa.
Shock absorber handlebar BAM City from BARAMIND-BIKE on Vimeo.
See that? It flexes!