Here are two of the ways I get around Baltimore. On the left is a second hand 1994 Giant ATX770 that I bought for $100 from a friend of a friend who used to race it. It still has the stock naff early 90’s black/mottled pink fade paint job which I believe was thought to be totally rad at the time but I now consider an anti-theft measure.
I swapped the floppy suspension forks with an NOS Girvin fork off of eBay and later, when the Deore XT derailleurs started having a mind of their own, replaced them with a NuVinci CVT. Despite being really heavy, it works well except that I couldn’t make the aftermarket chain tensioner that mounts near the axle work since the NuVinci control box takes up that space. This results in the occasional dropped chain. Recently though, I saw a tensioner that mounts to the chainstay so there’s still hope. It has lights front and back as this is the bike I use to get around town. I ride with a backpack so I haven’t looked at putting panniers or a rack on it yet.
The bike I use for the 7-8 mile commute to work is a 1996 Bianchi Campione d’Italia I bought way back when I was in college. A friend and I aimlessly wandered into a bike shop near the University of Delaware campus one day and this bike immediately jumped out at me. The beautiful blue paint and clean lines made possible by the Ergopower component set, in-tube cable routing and teardrop section wheels made it look like it was going a million miles an hour standing still. I took it for a ride and I’d never experienced a bike that could turn so quickly yet felt completely stable. The derailleurs swapped cogs instantly with a click of the hood-mounted levers and it surged forward with even the slightest pressure on the pedals. I wanted to buy it right then, problem was it costed $575 even with the end of the year close-out discount. Technically I had the money in my bank account, but that was meant for pedestrian things like food, clothing, shelter and other things one forgets about shortly after buying.
It took me a week to rationalize that yes, this bike was a necessity of life but when I went back a week later it had gone back up to the regular price of close to $700. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I told the salesperson that I could buy it if they could give me last week’s sale price. Amazingly, it worked. As I wrote out the check they screwed on some reflectors and I rode it home with a grin on my face. My mom called about a week later wondering why my balance got so low and I told her about the really cool bike I got. She was not pleased; I’ve never regretted it.
In contrast to the Giant, it’s virtually the same as it left the factory except for the tires and pedals. It’s a lot faster and in better shape than the Giant so it earns commuting honors. —Suhas
[Visit Suhas’ blog to see his sustainable transportation design projects. —ed.]