26 June 2009

puch it up!

I've been slowly working on a "new" bike, in the background, when I'm not at the shop. It's made by Puch, an Austrian manufacturing company that once made cars, bikes, mopeds, and motorcycles. (I also heard they made lawn mowers & chainsaws, but that has not been verified.) Now, they just make bikes. Estimates by those who purport to know put this bike as manufactured in the early '80s.

The bike was a gift from Tony Sem, back when the eponymous Nishiki was stolen off the front of a bus. Grateful as I am, and love it as I do, the bike is pretty hard to describe as anything but a beater. A cerulean-blue paint job, chipped, revealed a lighter, aqua-blue underneath. The seat stays had broken at some point & been welded back together. Mysteriously, every element of the frame (top tube, bottom tube, seat tube, rear stays, even the fork) had scotch tape on it, somewhere. As though scotch tape would do ... something.

What the.

Now, I like bikes. I like fixing them up to my specs, & I like the challenge of turning something modest into something interesting. So I was looking into ways to make this bike something other than a beater. Then I ran into Ephraim at LA Brakeless while I was shopping for parts. He & I chatted about wheelsets & cogs, what gear ratio I hoped to run, & the not-particularly-to-my-liking paint job. He mentioned stripping & powdercoating it. Stripping a bike of paint is either cheap (if you sand- or ball-blast it) or very cheap (if you use harsh chemicals & fervor). Something about taking off the paint myself appealed to me. I don't know. I can be stubborn & foolish. Ask anyone I've ever dated, ever, and they will tell you this is true.

Three rounds of scrubbing the thing with incredibly harsh chemicals later, and the frame is finally, mostly, clean of the blues. Interesting: It's a gun-metal-grey steel frame under all that. The lugged frame was brazed together using a brass-colored metal that fades & streaks nicely into the gun-metal. And then there's the issue of the paint. I will never get absolutely all that paint off. Currently, it's flecked with the cerulean blue, a detail I'm not really all that sad about. While the idea of not painting the bike a different color had come up once I discovered the lovely gun-metal-grey beneath, I've since decided to clear-coat it as is, flecks & all. [NB: Fuck the paint. I had an idea for this bike, & it didn't involve flecks of cerulean blue, I'll tell you what. I gave up too easily on that one.] Unexpectedly, it's going to be a pretty nice-looking bike, indeed. Pictures to come after my next trip to BikeRoWave, assuming I remember to take them.

Serendipity. Acceptance. Hard work & mirth. Something. I just get the feeling I'm going to like the hell outta this bike, especially after I kit it up with the components I want: Brooks honey saddle with matching bartape & toe straps, or Brooks dark brown saddle with matching toe straps & shellacked brown cloth bartape.

That's it, pals. See you on the road.


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