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The History

June 12, 2011

I inherited my Dawes bike around 5 years ago from my (now) father-in-law. It did me well while I was in Cambridge; even though it was an old bike and had been cycled hard over the years, it was light, quick and (I thought) pretty fly. It’s pretty retro riding an old racer right? I cycled it to and from lectures and didn’t do much to it except change a tyre every now and again.

I left it in Cambridge for a year after I had graduated and it lived, alone, at the train station (not the most best of homes for a bike) where it was exposed to the elements. After another year of non use in a shed, I brought it to London around a year ago and started to use it for my commute. It needed a bit of oil to start with but again, it has done me well. Also being old and worn probably doesn’t make it the most desirable of bike to thieves.

an example of poor maintenance by me

Brake pads after removal

However, after those years in Cambridge and London with little love, a few of the bits have stopped working well. The brakes are worn and squeak, the front derailleur is bent, the rear wheel gears are clogged with grease (and hair!), the rear wheel is beginning to buckle and I have worn away the grips on the handlebars. I’ve already replaced one part – for my birthday last year my wife gave me a new saddle which replaced the original, foamless seat.
I’ve been enviously eyeing up the steeds on the roads to work – flash fixies, expensive racers, all clean and loved. Maybe their owners are vain, but I wanted my ride to look as cool as those bikes.
I decided to look into a respray for it, possibly a matt black (vetoed by J) or a classy deep red. I soon realised this would require a load of work. Dismantling the bike, cleaning, straightening components, and discovering more broken bits all before even beginning the painting process. I worked out I would probably need to buy essentially a new bikes worth of components to restore it to the racer it used to be. £££. I was depressed and briefly considered consigning it to the dustbin and buying a new bike until I saw the cost of bikes I would like to own.
So I thought: ‘What do I use it for? How many gears do I actually use? Can I give it a new lease of life?’
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