I was having a conversation with a bike buddy yesterday. He'd birddogged a ton of bike parts for me, that were just sitting on a curb a couple of blocks away, so after I dragged my stuff home we sat around shooting the breeze.
Among the cache was a cantilever (cruiser, musclebike) frame, which type I prize exceedingly, and rarely find. This makes me as happy as a sculptor with a free chunk of granite, or a carver who's given a felled black walnut...nothing better in my sphere.
I mentioned to my friend that with the day's haul and a few odds and ends from my garage, I had enough parts to build at least two interesting bikes. We got to talking about what we will not scrounge, and let me tell you, it was a pretty brief chat. I thought I was King Skinflint, but what my buddy offered up rocked my gourd.
I admitted to buying new tubes when needed.
"Never have bought a tube", he said.
Now, I patch tubes when needed, but sometimes it just ain't happening. Like when there's a tear too long to patch, or multiple snakebites from a careless mounting attempt. He rides as much as I do, over the same trash-strewn boulevards of suburban New Jersey. How is it possible he's never needed a new tube? If he'd said that he'd never bought a beer I'd have found that easier to accept!
Most of my bike component purchases are indulgences, stuff I want rather than need (a nice sprung leather seat, repro handgrips). Since talking to my friend I'm getting a case of the unworthies.
i never have bought a new tube, i get them out of old working bikes.
If I get a bike with a good tube, of course I'll use it. It's way more common to get bikes with no tubes, maybe because the flat tire is the last straw for the bike owner, who then tosses the whole bike on the curb and buys a new one on sale at K-Mart for $99.
Last month I got a nice brown Ross ladies 3-speed with perfect chrome and a great rear rack. It was laying on the curb with a light coating of dryer fuzz on it, and the back tire halfway demounted and the tube yanked out, laying on the sidewalk like entrails.
After fixing the tube and replacing the tire with one from my junkpile, I took it for a ride. Pretty good brakes, bearings seemed okay, the hub shifted flawlessly. It had the appearance of a bike that had seen the street many years before, and then led the next twenty years as a shut-in sitting in somebody's garage. Literally nothing else wrong with it.
The owner may have thrown it away when they discovered that tools would be required to fix the flat. For some people tools are like kryptonite.
Every sunday I go for my sunday midnight ride where I hit up all the LBS dumpsters within easy riding distance of my house. Sometimes you find tubes that still hold air, and 10,000 others that have nothing worse than a pin-hole. A 1.75$ patch kit will earn me 6 to 8 perfectly usable tubes.
I get all my tires that way too, its been a while since I've bought tires. Sometimes you can get good chains that way, but you need to carefully check them for elongation, some people replace when the chain is actually worn out, and some people replace 'just for the hell of it' or once a year or something, after only riding 100 miles, and the chains are still under their wear limit.
plenty of decent seats too. and a bike shop near me has thrown away quite a few seemingly brand new tires. and the shop is right on the way home from work, so i can ride home (late at night), hop into the dumpster, and ride the rest of the way looking like that staypuff tire dude.