Last October as I was coming around a corner on my bicycle it shimmied on me in a weird way. My seat was suddenly unstable beneath me. I stopped, got off, and inspected my bike. I thought that maybe the front derailleur had come loose but it was tight. I got back on for a test ride and it was still shaky.

When I got off the second time I was finally able to suss out what went wrong. Some welds on the frame broke. The bottom of the tube that is under the seat was no longer properly attached. That’s the part right between the pedals. Since that metal tube sat in a larger joint connecting it to the other tubes it only wobbled a fraction of an inch. But the bike was still unrideable.

Being that my bike was twenty years old I decided it would be best to replace it. I can fix just about anything on a bike but I can’t weld a frame. And after that many years what other welds were ready to go?

October is about the end of my biking season so I decided to wait and save up some money for a new one rather than rush out and get one on credit. That and I had no idea where to get a new bike. The couple of local bike shops I used to frequent are long gone.

I checked on the internet throughout the winter but I really wanted to buy locally. So I checked on the internet again for local bike shops. They were some shops a couple of towns away and among them the closest had a bad internet review that scared me off. A decided to try the second one.

All I have to say about that shop is, “Boy has biking changed in twenty years”. I’m somewhere between a casual rider and an enthusiast. I ride for exercise and because I like it. I ride three days a week for about forty five minutes. I think my course is fourteen miles. Plenty of big hills in it. There used to be plenty of bikes for people like me. Not anymore. Now everyone is supposed to be Lance Armstrong.

I noticed a lot of high prices as I looked for bikes on the internet. I saved up six hundred dollars for my new bike and I didn’t even want to spend that much. As I looked around the shop I was in sticker shock. $1500, $1800, and $2500? It’s a bicycle not a motorcycle. I soon found out that their bikes started at $850.

Bicycle parts are better made and more expensive now I was told. I’m not quite sure how much better they could be than my old bike which lasted me twenty years. If a part wore out I just replaced it. It rode fine. I wasn’t racing anyone but I could go fast.

Back to the internet it was. I ended up getting a an internet sale only bike for about $430. It claims to use all the same parts as the more expensive bike shop bikes but sells directly to the consumer and so passes the savings on.

One of the reasons I wanted to shop locally is that I didn’t want to put the bike together and tune it myself. Any bike that I would have to have shipped to me I would also have to put together myself. That’s how it goes with bike buying.

My Dad first taught me how to assemble a bike when I was about eight and I have taken bikes apart and put them together a lot of time since but I haven’t wanted to do that much recently. I’m getting old I guess. But I also didn’t have the money (nor would I have wanted to spend it) for the bike shop bike so that was that.

So now I have my bike and I am in the process of putting it together. It’s more of a pain in the ass now because new bikes are needlessly complicated. Gear shifters are no longer mounted on the handlebar stem but have been moved to the brakes.

Instead of depressing the breaks you push sideways on the brake handle to upshift and there is a little thumb lever on the brake handle that downshifts. Sound like a recipe for disaster to me but we’ll see. I’m almost tempted to strip the new bike down to the frame and put all my old parts on it.

I already put my old pedals on because the new ones have built in toe clips and straps. Once again I’m not pretending I’m in the Tour de France. I’m on a road with cars, deer, people, and whatever. Getting my feet off the pedals quickly and efficiently has been essential on more than one occasion. I’ve tried toe clips. They put the fear of Zeus in me.

I haven’t finished my tuning of the bike because I decided to spend the rest of the money I had saved on a bike repair stand. That will make things easier on me and thats how I want them. It should arrive sometime in the next week or so.

I couldn’t even ride my bike yet if I wanted to. Another thing that has changed is the tire valves. Bike tires now use some fancy new French valve. My air pump doesn’t fit it. I had to order a new air pump for thirty bucks. Even with the extra expenses I’m still way under the bike shop price though. Sometime you have to do it yourself.