My Winter Fugly Bike
Unfortunately my Pashley is STILL at the shop (Just. Don’t. Ask.), and I needed a bike that could handle icy roads for the winter. Neither the road bike, Christina, nor my commuter, Byron, have clearance for spiked tyres, so I was really excited (yes, I know - I really need to get out more) when a neighbour left an old “mountain bike” (/bicycle shaped object) from some time before 2000(?) in the back lane for the scrap metal faeries. It had:
- Clearance for big tyres
- Steel frame - ideal for subsequent modifications
- No suspension
- Forward-facing drop-outs - ideal for single speed or hub gearing
I took it to pieces and made a few changes - removed the freewheel casette & re-dished the rear wheel; stripped off all the gear shifters, cables & mechs; replaced the brakes & levers with some that I had spare; fitted a rack; went shopping to Recyke Y’Bike & got a “new” set of cranks & 42T chainring, handlebars & a prop stand (£25); bought a single-speed 19T sprocket form Ebay (£11); fitted some SPD pedals that I had spare; fitted a pair of 35 litre Ikea storage boxes to the rack; and finally a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres (£35 each - have since found a cheaper source for these):
Here’s the result…
I’ve used truss strapping to fix the boxes to the rack
And big washers to spread the load on the inside.
Overall, this is quite a fun bike to ride - very utilitarian & not at all showy. I’ve set it up as a fixed wheel bike because it’s one less thing to maintain as it gets bathed in winter salt, and it gives me a backup set of brakes should the rims get iced up. The gearing is also low - according to Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator, it does just under 17mph at 100rpm on the pedals. That means I can pedal really slowly when the going gets really icy, it goes up hills relatively easily, and despite the upright seating position, it does OK into a headwind. But I’ll not be winning any races on it either!
I’ll ride it for this winter, and then do some more work in the spring:
- Get some lugs for a front rack welded on
- Strip & repaint the frame - its just high tensile steel (i.e. not CrMo) and has some rust spots. I want to see what these are really like, and maybe get some patches welded on if necessary
- Do some work to make those boxes rain-proof
- Improve the mudguards’ coverage