Bicycle refurbishment Saturday

Not green overspray.

Not green overspray.

Today I rode my bicycle for the first time in perhaps 9 years.  Thinking on it, this is a long time.  The topology of my town discourages riding by those who are not particularly dedicated, it is true, but nine years is entirely too long a time to neglect my bicycle.  My old bike has been returning to the earth for quite a while, quietly chained to a rack outside my apartment.  “How long is ‘quite a while’?”, you may ask:


Lichen on the handgrips

Perhaps that doesn’t look too bad.

Tires rust?

Tires rust?

This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with rusty tires.

I have been reading the website of Coco’s Variety, which is much more genteel than the name might imply in the absence of context, and was inspired to fix up my old bike.  Therefore, I spent the afternoon working, stopping the aging process, replacing some parts, and carrying on the never-ending fight against entropy in the form of rust.  Most of the cables still work, but surface rust abounded, including inside the rims.  Once again, I am glad to have purchased some phosphoric acid spray:

An heroic pose

An heroic pose, looking steelily at the sun.

This stuff turns rust into iron phosphate, which is black, hard, and, importantly, inert.  It makes a good base for paint, though I haven’t gotten to the paint stage yet.  Between the conversion compound and a handy brass brush, my bike is now fractionally lighter.

Working on a bicycle was odd in comparison to working on the car; while rust is present in the usual places, the rubber parts were (excepting the tires) in very good shape, and there is very little plastic to worry about.  The heat of an engine degrades these parts much more quickly than a bicycle does.  Even rusty parts came, well, apart, with minimal effort, and bits and pieces are cheap for cheap bikes such as my own.  Between the sunlight, obvious minute-by-minute progress, and small mechanical operations, my afternoon passed quickly and pleasantly.

What with rust removal, cleaning gunk out of the sprockets, adjusting the derailleurs (had to look that one up), and replacing the tires and tubes, I reacquainted myself with the bike.  I’ve had it for a long time, and I found myself wondering how many miles that the old tires had borne my weight over.  I saw the side reflectors, the old registration sticker for campus use, the bracket for holding the lock (used ~ twice), the minor trim damage I caused just after getting the bike, and several denizens.  I’m not sure what this little guy even is:

Hello there!

Hello there!

Looks like a spiky caterpillar, but has 6 legs.  I deposited him in the nearby woods.


The bike is nowhere near pristine, and in fact currently owes much to the “rat rod” sense of aesthetics.  Fortunately, one of the nice things about black pieces of equipment is that a quick shot of rattlecan paint results in a nice, (relatively) matching finish.

I took it out for a ride after getting the new tires on, and found I had forgotten how easy it is to go fast on a bicycle; I read somewhere that it is the most mechanically efficient of human conveyances.  There are surely many many millions of people who depend on them.

My bike is heavy, and old enough to use nuts to hold on the wheels rather than cam locks.  It has plastic brake handles that flex alarmingly, and needs a new shifter cable.  But it is my old bike, and works again, and tracks true enough, and can bear my weight once more.

I made sure to ride through a puddle on my way back home.

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