Sunday, October 25, 2009

busy weekend!

I had a lot planned for this weekend, but most of it didn't get done because I was doing more important fun stuff.
Like buying a bike!

As I've mentioned earlier, I've been at a bit of a bike crossroads.  Robert has been having lots of little problems- mostly cosmetic and minor annoyances, but still frustrating.  I've been trying to decide whether to invest more time, energy and money into fixing him up further, or go in a different direction.
I was thinking I wanted to get a nicer frame like from a raleigh or Rudge and swap in my 26" wheels with their fancy (generator and internally geared) hubs.  I've been mulling this for a bit, and for my birthday last week the Scientist said he's like to get me such a frame!

So we started looking last week,  spoke to the guys at Menotomy Vintage bicycles (a great place for all kinds of great bikes). I tried a frame that was too small, looked at a frame that needed repainting, and made an appointment for Vin to bring in a bike he had that we thought would fit.
In the meantime I made contact with a guy on CL who had a couple of vintage Raleighs.   So on Saturday we met him in a grocery store parking lot in the rain to see what turned out to be a 1972 Ladies' DL tourist.  It was in semi- rough shape- a bit more of a project than I was looking to take on.  Plus, and this sounds shallow, but the font of the logo was very 70's -not a great era of typography.  But even without the seat or handlebars adjusted properly and abysmal brake pads, it was a great ride-  so smooth and stable, but with more pickup than the pure dutch frames I'd tried before re-building Robert.  The loop frame was lovely, and the Scientist fell hard for it.  But I wasn't sure.  So I thanked the guy and told him I'd have to think about it.

Today I went back to Menotomy to ride the bike Vin had brought in for me.  He also had a nice Rudge that had just come in, in the same size- it was nice to be able to compare the two side by side.  And,  small world, the guy who we'd met the day before with the DL, came in while we were there- turns out he'd sold Vin  the Rudge.   After lots of circles in the parking lot, I still wasn't convinced.  I felt like a cad breaking up a "mint" vintage frame, but wasn't sure I wanted another project bike.  We decided to break for coffee while I mulled the options.

Did I want one bike with everything?  Did I want to start a collection?  Did I want more projects, or more dependable transportation?  Was I willing to have a fair weather bike that was a period piece, but which wasn't up for my daily slog?  The Scientist had fallen hard for the DL, but that seemed like too much of a project, and hard to make my daily commute (just finding 28" rims seems to be a challenge), and my daily commute needs a generator hub and better braking than rod brakes can provide.

So we headed home to tend to other chores,  when I got a call from the CL guy- he was going to see a mint DL, was I interested?  I was.  Two hours later we met in a parking lot at MIT, and I was examining a gorgeous 1971 DL.  Its paint was nearly perfect,  its chrome was nearly perfect, it even had original tires.  I took it for a spin and it was fabulous.   Fate decided it for me- I was going to have a fair weather bike.  What to do about my every day- well, that's a post for another day.  For now, some glamour shots


  1. I had thought that my DL-1 would be just eye candy / a fair weather bike, but it has surprised me by turning out to be spectacular beyond my wildest hopes. So much so, that I am now obsessed about figuring out a way to convert it to rod-activated drum brakes.

    Mine is a 1972 and I agree with you about the italic Raleigh logo. I will most likely try to remove mine and replace it with a custom decal. A 1972 is not exactly a collector's piece in the first place, so I am not too bothered about marring its original looks.