There’s no getting around it, it was a nice week here in Portland. The weather and temps were decidedly springlike, with ample sun and a high even reaching 64F/18C on Thursday. It was a nice time to be outdoors. I was tempted to do some big adventure because of the weather, or at the very least camp again. I decided against it, mostly because after doing Big Things the last two weeks (camping and travelling to Vancouver), I was ready to slow things down, content with mostly putzing around close to home.
Though on Sunday I did have a big adventure! Madi of Familyride came down from Seattle for a reading at Rivelo. (She just wrote Urban Cycling, published by the Mountaineers. You should check it out!) We decided to have a big bike ride around the North Portland peninsula, one of my favorite rambles. (And lucky for Madi, a flattish ride compared to the ones she’s used to in hilly Seattle! 😉 ) Despite a bit of rain at the start, the weather held, and we got to check out places like Kelley Point Park and of course Saint Johns.
For most of the nice weather, I’ve been riding my Schwinn Heavy Duti, since it’s best suited (for now) for fair weather. I forget how much I like riding the bike. Despite its moniker, it never feels as heavy and slow as you’d figure, even with the single speed. (Compare that to my Worksman Cycle Truck, which was always a beast!) I admire its simplicity and its ease of maintenance.
But that coaster brake! It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but that instinct comes back, as a single rear coaster brake was the type of bike most of us had until maybe the age of ten or so. When I was younger, I would bomb down hills with abandon, single rear coaster brake being the only thing to stop me.
But now I’m a 40 year old adult who takes less risks and knows that the most effective–and safe–braking is done on the front wheel. I’ve pondered the “add a front brake to the Heavy Duti” scenario for a bit, but have been hesitant up until now. Mostly because I don’t use the bike that much, and also because I got the bike for under $100 and haven’t put much money into it. But should that stop me? If I had a front brake, I’d use the bike more often, including in the rain.
But it’s not an easy nor cheap proposition, any way you slice it. Y’see, the front fork is one of those thin bladed Schwinn styled things, looks cool, but there’s no hole in the crown for a brake mount and I’d doubt that brazing on canti bosses would work. And since the stem/headset is that funky old 21.1 size, I couldn’t easily find an old mountain bike fork to swap. I’ve been thinking about getting a drum brake front wheel, which should work, but wouldn’t be cheap. If anything, that way I can say that I have every type of bike braking option on all my bikes!*
So well see if I go down that road. I don’t want to spend a bunch of money to do that and then end up selling the bike soon afterwards. For now, I’ll just have to enjoy its simple and less effective rear brake.
*I’d have a drum front and a coaster rear on the Heavy Duti, traditional caliper brakes on the Raleigh three speed, cantis on the Raleigh Crested Butte, and discs on the Bantam Rambleneur.