Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Initial Tune-Up

Budget: $80.90

When I walked into the bike shop, my first words to the kid were "Don't laugh." To his credit, he didn't.

"Actually," he said, "it doesn't look too bad. We'd just want to replace--" and he proceeded to list item after item, resulting in a tab of $350. Then he went off to show me some new bikes.

"I'm going on that one," I said, "and let's just do the minimum with it. What if we don't replace--" and I went off with "what if" after "what if," looking to replace only the consequential stuff.

The kid's father came in.

"That thing? ...well. That wasn't a good bike when it was new. With all the corrosion on it....and we don't even know what's going on inside....I really don't recommend putting any money into this thing."

It was good advice for anybody else. Indeed, I knew already that the money I would spend fixing this bike up along the way would total to more than buying a new one. However, I'm planning to do a lot of the fixing myself along the way, and even when I take it to a bike shop, it'll be on money I'm making as I stop, already on the road, to work. Way cooler than sitting around in Massachusetts for weeks more, making the money for a new bike. That's not the point of this trip.

Finally, the kid stopped trying to push me to spend more. "It actually isn't as bad as it looks."

I went through the whole thing with them and determined what I would need to fix in order to be able to ride it decently.

"I realize it'll never ride perfectly," I told them. "I don't expect that."

We settled on

  • A general tune-up
  • New gear cables
  • New tubes and tires
  • LOTS of lube and grease

I dropped $150. Pumped nearly all of it from a different source than my trip budget, because I want to get going with this trip faster. I'll be way stricter about the budget once on the road.

The bike should be ready by Friday, and should allow me to go some distance and be OK.

"We can't see the bearings," he told me, "so while the wheels and pedals seem to turn OK now, I can't tell you how long that will last. What worries me more is that the back wheel is so corroded that the brake pads might not be able to stop it very efficiently."

To replace a wheel, I'd be looking at about $50. About the same if I need to replace the bearings in the pedals. Not so bad, especially if I can already be somewhere well along the way when that happens.

Like everything else, it'll be an adventure.

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