One Sunday morning this past summer, I got an interesting voicemail from my friend Gareth. The voicemail, in a breathless voices started with :
"I'm.... I'm just not good with bikes"
The previous day, I had loaned him my bar bike. An older On One Inbred steel 29er with a rigid fork, fixed gear, and road crank. The bike had been replaced on the trail several years before by an Air nine that was several metric tons lighter. Still the On One was enjoying its retirement by being my bicycle of choice for local errands and watering holes around royal oak.
Last night was Arts Beats and eats. A fantastic event, where the entire RO downtown area is blocked off to showcase local bands and past their prime national acts. There is also a convoluted ticket based beer distribution system implemented designed to confuse drunks with a seventh grade algebra story problem. I love AB&E... I love it because I ride my bike, leave it with KLMs bike Valet and avoid the outrageous parking fees.
Back to my buddy Gareth, what he was trying to explain was that he had managed to crack the frame of my On One, and was looking to make it right.
My response was straight from Anchorman:
" I'm not even mad, I just want to know how you did it!"
This was a bike with about ten thousand trail miles with a Clydesdale.all full rigid. When I got it, I was blown away at the number of greasy fingerprints that were on the bike...this was collaborated by similar hand prints on the side door of the location where he stayed the night. Piecing together the physical evidence & expert testimony we concluded that the cause of frame breakage happened somewhere between fat burger and Campbell... Evidence of being over served, was not conclusive, but highly probable.
As far as the bike, fear not. I am working with Chris at motor less city to have the bike converted into a fat tire cargo bike. : )
This got me thinking of the virtues of a "bar bike". Essentially a bike that has outlived it's usefulness on the trail, but still has value as an alternative transportation for short errands. It is every bet an important addition to your stable of bikes as a cross bike, or single speed, or fatbike or wherever you are on the N+1 bike requirement scale.
A good bar bike, should have a low perceived value. It may be a living breathing example of the best cycling technologies that the late 80's had to offer, but to the bike thief, it pales in comparison to a shiny new Next full suspension rig. I should be functional, reliable and low (if not zero) maintenance. It should have a blikey light. For visibility and safety and either fenders or a rack to prevent the 'skunk tail' when you are surprised by a summer shower.
It should have personality, in a Frankensteinian kind of way. As it will have more value as a whole than the sum of it's parts.
I've had a few friends approach me about assisting them in building a suitable bar bike. If you are like me, the actor wrenching bikes are enhanced with a tasty malt beverage. I bounced the idea off Ryan at Apto, and he was excited about the idea of a bar bike build party. So we decided that the Saturday before the superbowl would be the perfect time for a thinly veiled excuse to wrench bikes and drink beer. We'll get Liberty Street Brewing Co & Rochester Brewing Co. involved somehow.
So what is a bar bike build party? If you have an old frame that needs to repurposed, bring it. If you have an old tub of functional, but unsalable parts,(as we all do) bring them. Have an under appreciated knowledge of bicycle mechanics that increases exponentially with each stout consumed?bring it. Have a growler of beer so good that it has to be shared? Bring that too. Ryan and Apto will have bulk cables and a few stands available. Who knows if anything rideable will actually come out of this event, but it should be a good time.