I have a lot of toys that are for all of my various sports. All of them serve, ultimately, one purpose. Help me get over the finish line faster and more efficiently. (One might say based on my finishing times that maybe my money is better spent elsewhere but at least I’m fairly cost conscious with my purchases!) I own three bikes. I have my road bike which serves mostly to live in my trainer and for group rides, my tri bike that I usually ride, and then a third bike that I picked up off craigslist – a 1977 Raleigh Sprite 27. The reason I originally purchased it was because Melanie and I wanted to ride to restaurants and shops locally and my road bike with clipless pedals isn’t well suited to that. So I thought I had two options. Either buy a cheapie bike from Target or step up to a nice commuter from a company like Trek or Giant. As much as I’m a fan of having a quality bicycle, I couldn’t justify the $500+ I’d have to spend on a bike that I knew I would ride for extremely short trips. So I thought I’d check craigslist and see if I could get something decent and used.
That was when I noticed the large number of vintage bikes floating around. I did some browsing for a week or two and then got very lucky. I found an ad for a bike in Tampa that by the pictures was in excellent condition. A drive up a couple days later confirmed it. The bike was in great shape. I think I got it for $120 which, while probably a bit more than the bike is really worth, was less than he was asking and the bike really was in perfect riding shape. Of course the first thing I did was blow out the tires when I got home because I overinflated them (I got a bit excited with the pump) and it took me another couple weeks to get the bike ready to ride. But after that? I had a bike that was ready to ride around the neighborhood and to all the stores nearby.
On nice days I started riding it to the gym and a couple times to the supermarket, though I didn’t have any way to transport things. Finally I did take it into a shop for a full inspection and tuneup. Between that and the price of the bike, I could have gotten basically something from Target with equal utility but it would have been much lower quality. I’ve recently picked up a pannier set that has a vintage look to it that I think really complements the bike’s style and its pretty much completely ready to be used as an all around commuter. When I’m working at home, unless its raining, my car can pretty much stay in the garage! The only things I want to do to it are change the tires for some white sidewalled tires and get some better lights. I love the vintage generator on it but my safety can’t depend on the dim lighting it puts out.