I tell ya, sometimes living in Portland gets me down. The rising price of housing, the threat of a Cascadia Subduction earthquake, the TV show Portlandia, and lack of Dunkin’ Donuts. It adds up. But sometimes, sometimes living in Portland can be great. And Sunday reminded me of Portland’s greatness.
Portland has had a great free box culture for as long as I’ve lived here. Piles of free stuff in boxes, on the parking strip, mainly during the summer months (for obvious reasons), but also at other times of years. I’ve scored some amazing finds from Portland’s free boxes over the years. But possibly nothing as great as I found on Sunday.
As I was riding through SE after work, I spotted a free box. At first I noticed shirts sticking out of the box, standard free box fare.* But as I passed, I noticed a couple bicycle wheels next to the box. This isn’t unusual in Portland, but what was unusual was the big black hub spotted on one of them. Big hub can either mean internal gears, a dynamo, or possibly both.
I stopped to examine the wheel. The wheel itself was ok, though a few broken spokes. But on the hub body was written Alfine, a Shimano offering. An internally geared hub, since there was no wiring connection. Too big to be a three speed, so either an eight or eleven speed.
Really? Who would leave a wheel like this by a free box? I was flabbergasted. At first I put the wheel down, thinking, “Nah.” But I picked it up again. A hub like this would be too good to pass up, and I’d kick myself later if I didn’t grab this!
Thankfully, I was riding my Crested Butte with the front basket, so carting it home wasn’t an issue. As I was strapping the wheel into the basket, a gent was heading into the house by the free box. “You made a good score”, he said, with what sounded like an Aussie accent.
“Yeah, was this yours?” I responded.
It was. He was in haste to leave the country, something about visa problems, so he needed to part with stuff fast. He confirmed that that it’s an eleven speed (score!) and mentioned that the hub might need to be rebuilt because it had issues “shifting under load”. Of course, this probably means shifting while pedalling, which is something you are not supposed to do with IGHs.
In any case, even if the hub needs work, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a new one, as the retail price for one is about seven hundred dollars, not including the wheel. As for the spokes and rims, well, that can all be replaced and rebuilt.
So there you go. I managed to score one of the most sophisticated internally geared hubs for absolutely nothing, and it was just sitting on the side of the street! Can you do that in your town?
Now I just need to find a bike that it will go on…
*To note: I did grab three shirts.