Monday, February 25, 2008

I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY TURNED AN UGLY BICYCLE INTO A LESS UGLY BICYCLE

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Some sweetheart stole my bicycle out of my backyard late last summer, and with spring approaching it was high time for me to find myself a new one. Unfortunately, I had to deal with 3 sizable obstacles on my path to procuring a new 2-wheeled means of conveyance:

1. I have less money than Bea Arthur has crabs, and the woman honestly doesn't have very many crabs.

2. Bikes depreciate in value at an excruciatingly slow pace. It's not at all uncommon to see an ad on craigslist stating "I bought this bike 4 years ago for $1,500 and probably haven't put more than 500 miles on it, so I'm asking $1,200 for it". What a great fucking deal, pal. Thanks for passing the savings onto the impoverished consumer, prick.

It's exceedingly rare for any bikes not originally purchased at Wal-Mart to dip below the $100 barrier, and the ones that do so sell extremely quickly, so I needed to be anything but lazy in my classifieds browsing. As history has proven time and again, I am naturally anything but an anything but lazy man.

3. I have what is in all likelihood the single lankiest human frame in the Western Hemisphere, as such I require a bike that's large enough to be ridden by Manute Bol, but light enough to be lifted by a 6 year old girl with scoliosis. These bikes are not easy to come by.

After months of fruitless searching, I finally found my ride: A vintage 1989-ish Mt. Shasta Tempest, the pride of the late queen's 21 speed fleet, and it set me back the mere pittance of 75 American dollars.

Though you've almost certainly never heard of Mt. Shasta, this bike's actually not a complete piece of shit - If you care to know, Mt. Shasta was a secondary brand that GT bicycles for whatever reason started up in the late 1980's, but the project went belly up rather quickly. So basically I ended up with an old GT mountain bike (the GT logo is pressed into several pieces of the frame) in the clothes of a brand that no one's ever heard of. Yatzee.

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Anyway, the bike was in need of some basic repairs (the tires needed to be replaced and the seat was the single most uncomfortable object that any man could ever rest his posterior upon, excluding Bruce Vilanche's lap), but other than that the ride was technically very sound. Unfortunately, the paint was in really dreadful condition. It was obvious that this poor contraption had been leaned up against a wall for the whole of an uber-tepid summer, as one side of the bike was a kinda cool flourescent orange, while the other side had been sun bleached into a pastel pink.

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Dig the color difference on either side of the brake cable (the black line running along the top bar in the frame)

The previous owner had also inexplicably wrapped packing tape around a few pieces of the frame, which left some bizarre lines in the paint.

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I could have just left the bike as is and written off its less than stellar aesthetic condition as a theft deterrent (after my last one was stolen, I'd certainly have grounds to seek out such a quality). I also could have done a cheap spray painting job on the frame to give it a somewhat uniform color, but I was told from several reputable sources that this method never ends well. My other conventional option would have been to get the bike professionally powder coated by an auto body shop, but this would set me back $150 and would greatly increase the likelihood of my new ride getting stolen, so I decided to take a less conventional route.

After picking up a 10 pack of orange electrical tape on Amazon for about $10, I unhooked all of the brake and shifter cables from the bike and removed the chain and wheels, leaving me with an almost entirely bare frame (I also removed the front dérailleur as I found it ostentatious and unnecessary). An unexpected upshot from all of this was that I later learned how to replace brake and shifter cables, as I needed to put the thing back together again to be able to actually ride it.

Once all obstructions were cleared off, I windexed the whole thing, then somewhat meticulously covered all of the frame's joints and intersections with tape before wrapping the tubes and the front fork with tape to complete the job. It took a couple of hours to finish, but I'm feeling pretty sassy about the end results (in the world of Enron McHanslaw, sassy is always a good thing).

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Surprisingly to me, I only used 1 and 1/2 rolls of the tape I bought, so this whole job only amounted to about 4oz of added weight to the bike's frame. The only thing I'm worried about is how long the tape will hold, but I didn't stretch the tape much when I wrapped it, so I don't think it has any reason to peel off anytime soon (and even if it does, I'm sitting on 8 and 1/2 rolls of back up tape to make repairs with). For a little closer look at the hot tape on bike action, dig this nastiness:

tapedframe

As you can see from that little tube poking out from behind the seat post, there's a few small parts of the bike that I wasn't able to tape over, but I think I'll just write those off as theft deterrents (teehee, I'm precious).

Here's one more shot taken from a slightly different angle, as I know how you feel about slightly different angles (you sly dog, you):


tapedfull2

Welp, that's about it. Tune in next time when I'll show you how to turn a sequined change purse into a colostomy bag.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Your bike is truly less ugly now. A great idea. How has it held up over time?

Father Rhyme said...

Well, it's been a couple of months now and I've got no complaints, though I've been storing the bike in a shed and have yet to ride it during a rain storm, so the tape's fortitude really hasn't been tested yet.

joDi said...

you might officially be my hero. i am totally stealing this idea tho i think i'm going to use multiple colors and do some sort of shmancy pattern.

i have a 79 schwinn supersport and although the paint has held up considering its age...i don't really want a red bike. i got the thing for free, so i shouldn't complain but i still want to make it more "me" which means it'll probably end up being neon pink and lime green. i am obnoxious...i can't help it.

thanks for the tips.

nic said...

nice job, I've been using black elec. tape over the ostentatious decals on my bianchi, and it's held up no problem for over a yr now. I limited my taping to the main sections of tube and left the joints the bianchi blue/green, which adds to the effect I think.

Yiorgos said...

this makes my heart smile. i will try to emulate your genius on my '87 nishiski.

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