My Robin Hood path racer came into being on a whim. In 2016 I was given a couple old Raleigh three speeds plus a bare Robin Hood frame. I managed to move the two bikes, but the Robin Hood frame sat for a year since I didn’t know what to do with it. Finally I decided to build it up for myself and make in the style of a path racer–a mid-century British creation of stripped down raciness. I had done that to a Rudge a half-decade earlier. I loved the Rudge, but it was too small so it didn’t see the use it should have. Over fall and winter of 2017-8 Steve M and myself built up the Robin Hood with gathered parts and then I had a fun and sporty machine.
I rode the Robin Hood a bunch in 2018 and even took it with me to Lake Pepin. But the usage of the bike had diminished over the past couple years. It’s the stripped-down “fun” bike, so it’s not great for day-to-day errands. As such, I saved it for fun rides. But practicality trumps superficiality, and I would grab the Raleigh Superbe, Schwinn Heavy Duti, or Raleigh Crested Butte for the day-to-day stuff. And there’s always been some issues: janky fenders that would constantly rub, a wheel that moved in the rear dropouts if too much torque applied. I sent the bike to Jer over the winter to address those issues.
Still, besides some fun rides like a cruise to Powell Butte in March, I have barely ridden the Robin Hood. It’s been staring at me in the bike space, looking forlorn. So finally on Thursday July 8th I decided to pull it out and take a cruise. And…it didn’t feel that fun riding it. Huh. I pressed on, feeling I needed to give the bike a chance.
This chance was not to happen.
After about five miles, I noticed that something was rubbing in the rear again. Every time I stopped to look at it, the wheel was perfectly centered. I guessed that it might be coming out of the dropouts again when enough torque was applied. Jer told me that he did the best he could, but the dropouts were widened and deformed. I was hoping that I could at least finish the ride, but every time I started from a stop, that rub happened again, dragging my rear wheel against the chainstays. I started to walk across intersections. This was not good. Finally, the chain popped off. That was it. I was done. I walked the bike to the bus stop and knew it was over.
Sure, I could see about fixing it again, but it’d just be another band aid, a short-term solution. Sure, I could bring it to a framebuilder with the hope of a more substantial fix, but do I really want to go that route? This was a free frame that I built up on a whim. Path racers are fun…for a bit. The Rudge lasted a little under three years, this one got a bit more play since the frame fit me better. But it turns out I like the classic upright Superbe riding position instead.
So it’s the end of the road for the Robin Hood. I had some good times. But after getting rid of the Crested Butte, I’m liking the idea of a smaller fleet. I’ll still have three bikes, enough to suit my needs. Maybe I’ll build a path racer again at some point if I get the urge, just like another vintage mountain bike could enter the fleet. That’s way down the road. Right now I’m not that interested in spending the time, energy, and money in building up bikes. If I did I’d look for a lighter frame. I’ll be stripping down the Robin Hood and transferring some parts to other bikes and selling the rest. It’s not the most noble end to a bike (see my Raleigh Wayfarer) but the Robin Hood will be leaving me the same way it arrived.
For photos of the Robin Hood over the years, see the dynamic flickr album below. Or click here.