A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Black Bike

It certainly looked attractive on amazon.com.......Click to enlargeA retro styled cruiser bike with the endorsement of a company known for quality outdoors products. For $129.99 including shipping, the sum of the parts would cost more if I ordered them separately. How could I lose? I placed an order.

What I received was a cheapo bike assembled from barely tolerable components. The grips were foam rubber, the seat was atrocious, and the coaster brake barely functional. The brown appearing paint was flat black, and the red was cheap stickers so poorly applied I figured an inebriated Chinese crackhead had applied them in the dark. My expectations had been low, but this concoction somehow managed to slip beneath them.

I assembled the bike, leaned it against the garage door, Click to enlargeand let it ferment for a while. When I had the time and inclination to take a look at it again, I stripped off the cheap stickers. That was not difficult, considering there was no clear coat and each one was full of wrinkles. I took a can of flat black bar-b-que grill paint off the shelf, and covered the tan with an even coat of darkness. Much better.

Next, I took off the detestable blob of a seat and installed an Electra Swing saddle atop the seat post. Two hand grips off an old wheelchair replaced the foam rubber trash on the handlebars. Little red reflectors graced their ends. I dug some pedals out of my parts pile to replace the nylon junk the bike came with. Some black dice valve stem caps and reflectors rounded out the bike.

The bike was actually starting to look OK, so I took it for a ride. It creaked and groaned along, but at least the tires held air.Click to enlargeI quickly learned the coaster brake needed rebuilding. I rolled the bike back into the garage and flipped it. Upon removing the rear hub, I saw there was no lubrication what so ever. I removed the front bearings. Same situation. I greased both hubs with wheel bearing grease, and suspiciously removed the bottom bracket to inspect it. No grease. I smeared some more wheel bearing grease on the races and bearings, and reassembled the bottom end. I uprighted the bicycle and did the same to the steering head bearings.

Once I had the bike reassembled and adjusted out to best fit my physique, I took it down the street again. It was much better this time. It was a bit small for me, or so it felt. The bike rides on 26 inch rubber, but the pedals seem to be directly under the seat. I guess I'm spoiled by the forward position of the Raleigh PUB's pedals and the increased height of the Raleigh Passage. I had been wanting a simple, flat black bike, a bike that I did not have much invested in, one that I could just hop on and ride with no worries if it deteriorated or disappeared. Now I have one.

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Blogger Carl H said...

Let's say I wanted to buy a cheap cruiser/comfort bike that I wouldn't have to rebuild and Wal-Mart or Dick's Sporting Goods was OK by me. Anything you'd suggest?

6:33 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Big Box store bikes under $150 or so all seem to be about the same in quality. They are made by Pacific Cycles in China and badged Schwinn or Huffy or Nova or whatever on importation. The Schwinns seem to be a bit better made than others, but it seems most have a derailleur and handbrakes rather than a coaster brake.

Personally, I recommend the Raleigh Special for around $220 at most bike stores. Of course, they are made in China, but the components seem to be better and you get a coaster brake and no cables. I suppose the Chinese do know how to build a bike.......afterall, it's their #1 transportation.

Actually, the Black Bike wasn't such a bad deal when I was done. I've got about $150 in it, and it seems to be OK.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know where I can find black rims/spokes and black handlebars for an older cruiser six I'm trickin' out?

2:35 PM  
Blogger helena said...

Beach cruiser prices have escalated to an outrageous price these last few years and together the founders realized there had to be a way to make things more affordable.


12:32 AM  

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