One of the downsides of RV living is the lack of a garage. This means that during the 2-4 weeks a year that it rains (cross my fingers), I can not get outside and work on the bikes. I consider not paying for a garage the other 50 weeks a year where it is not needed(*) a trade-off worth making.

(*) Most Californians seem to park their cars on the street, quite possibly because their garages are full of stuff.

As it finally stopped raining (cross my fingers, again), I have been fixing up a mountain bike to go mountain biking. This involved merging two free but slightly broken MTBs into one functional MTB.

The following skills were required

  • Changing tires.
  • Removing and installing handlebar grips non-destructively.
  • Removing and installing handlebars.
  • Adjusting brakes.
  • Removing and installing shifters and changing gear cables.
  • Adjusting an index derailer.

Although it may look overwhelming, it is all a matter of perspective. It is actually pretty simple stuff. In case you’re wondering, the $1.38 came from two new cables. The resulting bike is based on a Diamondback steel frame with a Shimano SIS 6 speed setup and cantilever brakes(*). The bottom bracket looks like a sealed square spindle; not a one-piece (there was no need to service that although I could have done that too; wheel hubs and headset was fine too).

(*) So we’re talking state-of-the-art 25 years ago 😉

mountain bike picture

Suffice to say, the frame used to be red but is severely sun-faded. It could really use a new paint job. To do this, I would need a “rocket” and a bearing cup press and that would be about $150 in tools—either that or really well used masking tape. With a paint job, this bike could actually begin to look quite good, like “$100 good”, maybe.

Forsooth, I feel quite confident in my bike skills. It is one of the serious “skills” I have developed since quitting my day job. What I like about it is that instead of Californian “waste” superfluousness, I see wealth. It is interesting to note that from a commercial/consumer point of view a bike that would cost about $100 on the used market can be had for $1.38 given an intermediate amount of skill. Of course a new one would be $200 (I’m using the 50% rule that says that used things are half off) and that would be the completely unskilled/lack of knowledge approach, which sadly is very typical of the modern consumer approach.

$1.38 vs $200

So it is with many things when sufficient skills are developed. It is not a difference of degree. The difference between a consumer and a producer is a difference of kind. Often a rather huge difference.

Now, with the so-called economy maintaining it’s course in iceberg territory and so many many nice boats on sale, I really wonder whether I should step up the game and start fixing up boats instead. Getting a bike from non-functional to a shiny new specimen results in personal satisfaction on several levels. I imagine fixing up a boat results in a lot more.

Originally posted 2010-02-15 23:26:07.