I’ve had the Raleigh Crested Butte for just over four years. When I bought it in October of 2012, it was definitely a “garage queen”, and showed little signs of wear and use. But that was four years ago. The Crested Butte has become my “daily driver” utility bike, the one I go to most for commuting and such. And while I have never toured on it, I’ve definitely put miles on it.
And while the Crested Butte was a nicely made, top of the line mountain bike in 1984, even the best of Shimano Deore componentry wears out if it sees constant and consistent use. The Suntour Perfect freewheel and rear axle went in the summer of 2015, replaced by another used Perfect freewheel. The “first gen” Deore shifters wore out a few months ago, replaced with “second gen” Deore shifters.
But now the bike is at a crossroads. The bike has felt a bit more clunky than it should* the past few months. Earlier last week the chain was having some weird jamming issues. The prognosis is the Perfect freewheel is no longer so perfect, so I need a new freewheel. That’s no big deal in itself, but the rear derailleur is also wearing out. And when the chain is in the small front chainring, it’s a couple millimetres from the sidewall of the rear tire. In fact, if I go over 52 mm in width on that tire, I run the risk of rub regardless. It would be nice to reduce that risk by changing the triple into a double and keeping the two bigger chainrings as far out as they already are.** That could also mean that I can finally put a double-legged kickstand on there, which would make my life a bit easier.
And I have also become annoyed with the brakes. Those high profile first gen Deore cantis are great brakes…when they work. But they quickly come out of adjustment, and are fiddly to readjust. So maybe it’s time for new brakes? I’ve had V-brakes before, and while they don’t look as nearly as nice as old cantis, they definitely do the job with little fuss.
So you can see that’s all adding up into a few hundred dollar job, at least. This is the point you’d maybe remind me that I tried to sell this same bike just a year ago. Yes, I see the irony. When the bill started to add up, I did have a “What the f- am I doing?” moment, and the thought about selling again briefly lit up. But after all I’ve done with and to this bike in the four years of owning it, I’d hardly get back anything for selling it. Also, I just like this bike a tad too much to do that, and want to keep it around for a year or two more, at the least.*** It’s nice to have a bike like this, a nice enough bike as it is, but the do-everything workhorse that means you can save the nice bikes for fun times. And let’s face it: I had a good run on this bike, with retaining most of the original parts it came with. Until this year, the only things I had replaced (not counting consumables like tires, chains, cables, brake pads) had been the saddle, seatpost, handlebar, and stem. It’s time for some new parts, parts that will last for a few more years through constant use and abuse.
But still, money is money, and it’s not like I don’t have other things to spend money on. (Or maybe try to save money?) And it’s not like I don’t have other bike issues to worry about. Take the Bantam.
Astute readers (or followers of my Instagram) may have noticed I haven’t ridden the Bantam in a bit. That’s generally because I like to keep it for the fun times, but the front wheel is sort of toast. Right before the aborted Chehalem Ridge Ramble in early November, I brought the bike to the shop to get the front brake adjusted. In attempting to do that, the mechanic found out that the cones on the Shimano Alfine dynohub are pretty much shot. He hasn’t been able to find replacement cones, either. I haven’t attempted to search on my own. But I’m thinking about just ditching the wheel. Even if I do find the cones, the rim has a defect where the sleeve where they weld it together is a bit loose, so you hear a thunk-thunk-thunk when the wheel moves at low speed. It’s more annoying than dangerous, but you see what I’m getting at. Maybe it’s time to just get a new wheel built? A decent rim around a Shutter Precision dynohub, most likely. People like them, and they look nice.
And it’s not just front wheel issues. I’ve also realized that I’ve run into the limitations of the 1X8 gearing system. The low is just not low enough for me, and while I didn’t want to admit it at the time, not having a good low gear scared me away from some touring opportunities this year. I do have that Alfine 11 hub, which I can get built up into a wheel, but I’m still worried that there may be issues with the hub itself. And it’s not just the cost of a wheel: shifters for the Alfine 11 run about $125-175! That’s a lot of change. I think I’ll try out a 1X10 system because I can get one of those ridiculous 42 tooth big cogs. This will be cheaper than an Alfine build (even with getting a new derailleur) and I’d like to get a little more life out of the rear wheel if I can. But even saving a bit on the rear wheel, we’re talking a few hundred dollars of work there as well.
And it would be nice to get a new fork on the Heavy Duti so I can actually have a front brake. I felt like I was on the verge of getting one, but these other two projects come up, and those bikes take priority. And there’s a couple other bike projects in there as well. (Thankfully the Raleigh Superbe doesn’t have any issues and I have no plans to change anything.) Remember how I said I’d like to have money for other things? With these projects, that ain’t going to happen soon!
These are times where I wish I was one of those bike minimalists, only having one bike, the type of person who frets about the idea of having two bikes. Instead, I’m the person who frets about four bikes–or more. What can I do?
*Yes, it’s heavy, so it will never be a nimble ride.
**I have thought about putting an internally geared hub wheel on there, something with at least 8 speeds. But those aren’t cheap, and since this bike has vertical drop outs, it would mean I need to use a chain tensioner. Not a deal breaker in itself, but does make things more complicated.
***Right now at four years the Crested Butte is my longest owned bike. I’d like to see it in my hands for five years, since that’s how long I had the Raleigh Wayfarer and the Surly Long Haul Trucker, my two “long term” bikes. Oh yeah, my first Portland bike, the Giant Rincon, was around for five years as well, but I don’t think about it as much.