22 January 2009

Bike Makeover #6: Practical is chic?

Sorry to be away so long, it's been one hell of a month. After my father had his crash, a month later he had himself a heart attack. They performed open-heart surgery last week, and I've been out in California since my last post, to give him a hug - gently.

Naturally, after all that he's got a new lease on life, a new mission, and a plan to ride his bike!

I tried to talk him into a new-old bike, but he loves his vintage Hard Rock, all 4,000 pounds of it. Here's the "before" photo, the bike in all its cracked-oxidized-plastic pie plate, biopace chainring, funny stem-routed brake cable glory:

before photo vintage Specialized Hard Rock bike
Here's the "after", looking much more like a commuter bike with new grips, a bell, a basket, fenders, lock, rack, grocery pannier, and a tail light. I also lubricated the parts that needed it:

Here's the bike on my test ride across the airfield that is his commute. You can see that the mountain bike isn't a bad choice on this terrain.

test ride Specialized Hard Rock commuter bike loaded basket panniers
Dad's briefcase is in the basket. This was essential as he wasn't going to court with a bike bag, and I knew that changing briefcases back and forth would keep him from using his bike. The bike is so large the 18" basket doesn't look as large as it really is. I tested the grocery rack on the dirt trails with a carton of OJ and a bottle of wine. That's going to work just fine.

Dad promises to update us when his sternum is healed and he starts riding. I can't wait!


JPTwins said...

Looks great and so wonderfully useful! But... somehow the pieplate remained. Did your dad insist on that? :)

Glad to hear that he's doing better...

jt said...

Dude. While you were doing the makeover, you should have pulled the cassette and lost the pie-plate. :-)

Lynn said...

Great job on your dad's bike! A labor of love, I guess. I wish him a speedy recovery and lots of California sunshine to ride in. It must have been hard for you to come back East!

dr2chase said...

I would hang on to all 4000 pounds of that frame; a friend of mine was grumbling (after his second or third trashed aluminum frame) how hard it was to get an honest steel mountain bike nowadays.

And I guess you had to keep the pie plate, on account of it's "vintage".

Charlotte said...

He didn't insist on the pie plate, but I didn't have a good way to pull the cassette. I was traveling light, no checked bags, and relied on the tools Dad already has.

I figure its just another reason to leave Boston and return to sunny California with appropriate tools, though I do have plans for a completely different bike for Dad, and now he's starting to trust my judgment. I'll profile it if we do it, but he has to ride this one first.

RidingPretty said...

Happy to hear your Dad is recovering well!
ahhhh, the bike is going to be so nice as well, what a great gift!..I'm sure just the thought of riding it will surely speed his recovery.

Thom said...

Wow, best wishes, Charlotte's Dad! And welcome back Charlotte!

Anonymous said...

why insist that he change bikes just for style points?
that bike is fully functional, probably better than many new steel frames.

to counter all the pie plate hater fashionistas, you should put a new pie plate on it. they exist for a reason, and that reason is to save a lot of grief when an indifferently maintained derailer or peice of debri or whatever causes the chain to go into the spokes. You want your dad to have to deal with that?

Why did you lose the water bottle holder?

Also, Bio pace is a decent choice for older knees as it is low rpm freindly.

Practical is its own damn reward. no one who sees it will subtract cool points because its a classic.

Charlotte said...

Hi Anonymous! Well, obviously we went with practical. And indeed, we left the pie plate. The oxidized cracked pie plate is even more of a statement than doing the work to replace it, don't you think?

We lost the water bottle holder because he doesn't need it. It was also falling apart and crushed small enough to be non-functional if he had a water bottle to put in it, which he doesn't. His commute is less than a mile.

I would never get him a new bike. I would prefer him to have a new-old bike like mine - a lighter 10-speed made commuter friendly in posture, tires, etc. because I think he'd be more inclined to take if further afield, perhaps to the shopping center that's 6 miles away, or down to his friend's house which is in the river valley. Not even I was interested in pedaling these 4,000 pounds back up that hill and my heart's in good shape.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

I'm glad to hear that your father is on the road to recovery and I applaud your efforts to keep your dear ol' dad healthy. I hope that he enjoys the bike and gets interested in cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle. My best wishes are with you and your family.

Shawsheen said...


YOu SURE have had some year past! Hope this new one brings a few bumps in your roads!

Great job on Dad's bike...can't wait to hear what you have in store for his new-old bike!

lagatta à montréal said...

What is a "pie plate"? Sorry, I've ever heard that term, and I'm probably your dad's age.

Et on ne dit pas "assiette à tarte"...

Glad dad seems to be on the mend. Were you able to cycle at all out there? I have a couple of beater bicycles at relatives'.

I'm so sick of the bluidy winter. Your previous post was identical to Montréal. The Spanish were wiser. New England and New France have dreadful climates.

But I may be going to Amsterdam in a few weeks!

2whls3spds said...

Nothing wrong with vintage steel! In fact the older steel framed MTB's are in great demand as commuter or tour bikes. They have a great geometry for more relaxed riding and are super durable...I know I have one that is pushing 20 years old and I am looking for another.

Good choice IMHO and I hope your dad gets much better enjoying his bike!


Jon said...

Get well wishes go out to your dad. And, I hope he enjoys his bike.

Check my blog posts from today's date (01/24/09) to see just how far afield you can go fixing up old Specialized MTBs for commuting.

m e l i g r o s a said...

I hope all things turn out great with your dad & your family.
what a cool bike (I ditto 2whls3spd) and beautiful green scenic area. best wishes♥ &big soft hug!

William/The Author Of * said...

Older is better. Affordable fix ups

Carice said...

Glad to hear that he's doing OK-
Hopefully he'll be up and about and biking in the California sunshine soon!

KT said...

Hope your dad is doing better!

Charlotte said...

I'm just now re-reading this and realized I never answered your question, I'm sorry. The "pie plate" is the little bit of plastic (or metal) that protects the spokes of the rear wheel.

I'm looking for what it would be called in French and can't find it. Maybe they were all removed for reasons of style!


kfg said...

There wouldn't be any reason for them to be called anything in French, because they were never on the French bikes in the first place, rather than removed.

They didn't even exist before the mid 70s. There was no reason for the idea to occur to anybody, because there was no problem for them to solve.

The pie plate is there to satisfy the American CPSC (the same people who declared that ALL bikes are children's toys and don't require lights at night for safety) requirements. It's part of the "bikes are dangerous toys" culture of Neo-America. In France I guess they know how to keep their changer out of the spokes without one. On a well maintained street bike they serve no functional purpose whatsoever. The CPSC themselves couldn't cite a single case of an injury caused by the changer over shifting into the spokes, they just thought it COULD happen and so required a prophylactic device on all new bikes sold ( a well designed cage just glides over the spokes if allowed to shift a bit too far. Makes a really cool noise to let you know "Adjust yer damned gears, ya yob!").

I do see some pictures of newer bikes in France with a kind of pie plate, but it's so small it would be worthless for keeping the changer out of the spokes. It could be there to keep the chain from dropping between the cog and the spokes on an over shift, something actually rather rare on today's bikes, but was the actual result on a badly maintained friction shifter in days of yore.

If you think "It's there for a reason so I better keep it on" and that makes you feel better; fine. If not, it's just one more thing to clean.

Charlotte said...

kfg, thank you for the history. I would have taken them off (his AND mine) but for lack of tools. In the case of my bike - I'm finally going to do the upgrade I've been meaning to do, so it just didn't seem worth fighting the freewheel to get that stupid thing off.

Anonymous said...

I have the exact same bike and am trying to identify what year it is. Do you know what year this Specialized is?

Charlotte said...

I should update to say that Dad's been riding daily, and can now see his abs when not wearing a shirt. That, combined with minimal scarring from his heart surgery, makes him a happy man.

As for the Hardrock, he bought it used sometime before 1994, but that's as close as I can get to a year of manufacture.