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Old 04-23-07, 10:12 AM   #1
JGatlin
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Mechanic/Collective founder from Austin & Conway

Hello!

Can't believe it took me this long to find (or even look for) a bike forum, not to mention one with so many active users. I sometimes reside in Austin, TX, and other times in Conway, AR.

I've been riding bikes my entire life, learned when I was five or something, but only seriously got into it about 2 years ago. The first bike I bought myself was a Maroon Panasonic DX-2000 at an estate sale ($45) around that time. I bought it for exercise and as a nice alternative to cars during fall. However, like many attempts at developing a physical habit, this faded after a few months and I rode probably once or twice a week, if that.

Fast forward to May of '06, and I found myself pissed off with cars to no end. I received a ticket for speeding on Memorial Day, my first ticket in 4 years. I brought out my bike and began to ride it as much as I could stand it. As summer started, I found myself wasting away and remembered something called the "Austin Yellow Bike Project" that a few of my old friends had talked about, and decided that bicycles might be a way to get me enthusiastic about life again. So, one week night in early June, I walked into a warehouse on our defunct airport and found it filled with hundreds of bicycles, thousands of parts, all "free" to those who donated their time to support the promotion of the project. Needless to say, I soon fell under the spell of bicycles and allowed building, riding, and fantasizing to consume my life.

Over the next 3 months, I received two more speeding tickets; one on the fourth of July and another sometime mid-May. I had wanted to sell my car and rid myself of that lifestyle for at least a year, so I took this as a pretty strong sign that I had been thinking on the right track. I sold my car and began riding my first fixed "conversion". I put conversion in quotes because absolutely nothing on it matched another piece; "frankenbike" might be a better term for it. A teal, mid-80's Schwinn World Sport with a random orange Fuji Fork, Weinmann Rims, Flip-flip Formula Hubs 16t fixed, 17t freewheel. 165mm Bulletproof cranks, 48t unidentified chainring. Random seat tube, head set, stem and handlebars. Logic saddle. Sometimes Iíll put on this nice dual-pivot Shimano 600 brake on it if Iím riding in heavy traffic. A nice fixed to begin with. Spent a bit too much money on it, especially considering a good deal of it was found at Yellow bike.

The Schwinn:


These days, although Iíve got a car againóan old Dodge Dakotaóitís being used to haul stuff around for the Conway Bike Collective that Iíve started up here. Itís still in its infant stage, but weíve built up about 15 bikes, and given a total of 30 or so away. Lotsa fun stuff. Besides the rest of the community bikes (somewhere around 30-40, and more coming every week) Iíve got 4 personal bikes, and my latest is an ItalVega Nuovo Sport conversionóanother Yellow Bike find. Itís white with the black stripes down the seat tube and has a random front wheel and fender. I carried the stem, seat/seatpost, and rear wheel over from the Schwinn but took some old 3-speed handlebars and flipped them for this one. The original crankset was a cottered steel Nervar set that I had absolutely the most difficult time replacing. Eventually, I found another Nervar set, but these are 170mm, 3-piece aluminum cranks with a...get this: 54 tooth chainring. Iíve had the lectures before, so donít bother unless you can help me find something that fits a long-obsolete French bolt pattern. It took me months to find something that would fit, and I eventually ended up putting a Stronglight spindle in the bottom bracket that gave me the correct chainline. A whole lotta elbow grease and guesstimating has been put into this ItalVega, and it essentially cost me no money.

The ItalVega:


Future plans for the ItalVega are to build up a pair of red-label Fiamme tubulars (another Yellow Bike find) with the Miche Primato Pista hubs, and somehow figure out what size/threading the bottom bracket is and replace that whole assembly. The bottom bracket has by far been the most difficult thing on the bike to fix.

So yeah, thereís my bike story in a nutshell. I think Iíll be posting mostly in the bicycle mechanics, singlespeed & fixed gear, and classic/vintage forums, so you can find me there.

Cheers,
John
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Old 04-23-07, 10:17 AM   #2
East Hill
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Hi John, we'll be looking forward to seeing more photos at C & V!

Welcome to BF!

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Old 04-23-07, 11:39 AM   #3
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Hey John - luv the pix. There's something about the simplicity of 1 gear that I appreciate. Welcome to the forums!

... Brad
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Old 04-23-07, 01:05 PM   #4
Platy
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Hi John, welcome to BF. I've volunteered a few hours at Yellow Bike and scrounged parts there for my frankenbike. What a great operation. I sure hope they find a permanent home before the bulldozers come.
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Old 04-24-07, 04:53 PM   #5
JGatlin
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Thanks for the welcome guys.

So, some questions on where to post topics:

If I'm trying to identify the bottom bracket specs on my ItalVega, should I post in Bicycle Mechanics or Classic & Vintage?

I'm questioning the overall integrity and mechanical soundness of Wal-Mart/department store bikes--General or Mechanics? How about specifics on one of their BMX wheel designs--should I make a separate thread in the BMX forum, or include it in the larger topic?

Thanks again.
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Old 04-24-07, 09:55 PM   #6
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Post in C & V--although I would suspect that the Italvega probably has English bb threading. There are a lot of folks over at C & V who can give you a hand with questions about vintage bikes.

The folks in the BMX forum will rip the Wal-Mart bikes to shreds if I know them as well as I think I do. I doubt that the Wal-Mart bike is made of cro-mo--an absolute necessity for BMX. Anything less than cro-mo is too fragile for BMX duty.
You can ask the question about the Wal-Mart bikes in General or BMX--but you'll get told pretty much what I just said, only less politely .

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Old 04-25-07, 10:01 AM   #7
JGatlin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by East Hill
Post in C & V--although I would suspect that the Italvega probably has English bb threading. There are a lot of folks over at C & V who can give you a hand with questions about vintage bikes.

The folks in the BMX forum will rip the Wal-Mart bikes to shreds if I know them as well as I think I do. I doubt that the Wal-Mart bike is made of cro-mo--an absolute necessity for BMX. Anything less than cro-mo is too fragile for BMX duty.
You can ask the question about the Wal-Mart bikes in General or BMX--but you'll get told pretty much what I just said, only less politely .

East Hill
Haha, well, I just wanted to point out ridiculously odd things, like, for example, (completely) radially spoked back wheels. I mean, what? I'm genuinely afraid of department store bikes now. I've never seen Cro-mo on a Wal-Mart bike, and I just picked 18 out of their dumpster, so I don't expect it, but radial back wheels? Am I wrong to adhere to the laws of physics? Ought this not be illegal to sell to unsuspecting children?

About the 18 bikes in their dumpster--a friend of a friend who's an assembler at Wal-Mart tipped us off about them. Apparently they toss anything that's not perfect. For example, one was missing a pedal. Another had an untrue rim. And they're throwing these away, complete? Gotta love cost effectiveness.

Oh, and, the same guy told me that 1 out of every 5 of their rampage(?) BMXs gets returned as defective merchandise.

What is this world coming to?
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Old 04-25-07, 10:10 AM   #8
East Hill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGatlin
Haha, well, I just wanted to point out ridiculously odd things, like, for example, (completely) radially spoked back wheels. I mean, what? I'm genuinely afraid of department store bikes now. I've never seen Cro-mo on a Wal-Mart bike, and I just picked 18 out of their dumpster, so I don't expect it, but radial back wheels? Am I wrong to adhere to the laws of physics? Ought this not be illegal to sell to unsuspecting children?

About the 18 bikes in their dumpster--a friend of a friend who's an assembler at Wal-Mart tipped us off about them. Apparently they toss anything that's not perfect. For example, one was missing a pedal. Another had an untrue rim. And they're throwing these away, complete? Gotta love cost effectiveness.

Oh, and, the same guy told me that 1 out of every 5 of their rampage(?) BMXs gets returned as defective merchandise.

What is this world coming to?
We've had some interesting threads about X-mart bikes. If you look at the bikes closely, you will see stickers on them advising that 'these bikes are not meant to be taken off-road' in the case of mountain bikes! What!? The bikes are better than no bikes, and sometimes it's just enough to get another person on a bike and give them a start, but...

I would not give a child an X-mart BMX bike, ever!

The mountain bikes are adequate, though, as long as they are properly built. They make heavy, but servicable commuter bikes.

East Hill
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