Slow But Handsome
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: North Carolina
Bikes: Old steel Roadmaster
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As of this morning, I have logged 2013 miles on my old Roadmaster MTB. To mark the occasion, I'd like to say a few words in honor of this humble machine.
When I started cycling last summer, I was on a very tight budget. (I have three kids; one of them just started driving; one is seriously involved in orthodontics.) My dad had this old Roadmaster sitting unused in his garage, so he gave it to me. That was in August. I started out riding 3-5 miles a day, mostly around the neighborhood. Then I headed out on some country roads in the area and began to add miles. I discovered that I could ride 9 miles to my office and 9 miles back. In December, I put 467 miles on the bike, including 27 miles on New Year's Eve. In the process, I have really grown to love cycling.
I realize that this is not a "real" bike by some standards, and I realize that it has its limitations. It's heavy (32 lbs.); it rattles and squeaks sometimes; and, because it's a 10-speed, it has a narrow gear range (about 35-100 gear inches.) It has 40-psi 26 x 1.75 tires, which help to make it slow (13-14 mph average) though I mostly blame the engine for that.
On the other hand, nothing has broken in 2000 miles. I've replaced the tires and tubes (which had been sitting--flat--for months in the garage), the front brake pads, and the handlebars (just a matter of personal preference). I've lubricated the chain every month or so with a heavy dose of STP Lithium Grease from a spray can, and I'm probably going to have to adjust the rear derailleur pretty soon; it's a bit balky lately. But that's about it. Otherwise, it's been a reliable, steady mount that has carried me through various kinds of weather, including a couple of heavy downpours, without complaint. And for the terrain I have here (rolling hills, usually about 2%; nothing more than about 6%), the gear range has been entirely adequate.
When I save up enough money, probably this summer, I'm going to buy a fancier bike. But I'm going to keep the old Roadmaster for running errands or riding trails. It has shown me that even a low-end bike, if properly assembled and maintained, can be a viable means of transportation. And I've had a lot of fun with it.