This weekend was the annual Fremont Solstice Parade. I had really been looking forward to it. If you are not familiar with the Solstice parade, it is truly a one of a kind event. Located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, the solstice parade celebrates the summer solstice. All of the floats are human powered, edgy and very creative. There are all different types of music. The crowning touch of the parade is naked cyclists and lots of them take part. Many of them are decorated with fantastic body paint. After the parade, there is a street festival that continues in Fremont all weekend. This was to be the first parade I attended in years.
I was planning on covering the parade for the BUTTCRACK Blog. As expected Seattle traffic was a nightmare. Several of the main freeways were shut down for the Rock and Roll Marathon. I would not even think of driving to Fremont. It would take hours. The only way to arrive at the Fremont Solstice Parade is by bike. Unfortunately, the night before the Parade, I had a major mechanical. A pin slipped in my chain and mangled my front derailleur. In the process, I chewed up several of the teeth on the large chain ring. It also turns out that my rear wheel was finally succumbing to the wear and tear of carrying my heavy BUTTCRACK around. My bike hates me and was a mess.
I currently have only one road bike. Some people say that is enough. My response to those people, ‘Shut Up!’ I
need at least one more road bike, a mountain bike, and perhaps a single speed. Sadly, the jersey selling business has not been so kind to me. Anyway! My first and current road bike is a 2004 Giant OCR1. I am very fond of this bike and would likely keep her even if I did have other rides. It has a 9 speed Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. If you know anything about Shimano, you know that they are no longer producing 9-speed Ultegra components. If I want a 9 speed rear derailleur, I will have to purchase a Tiagra or even a Sora. In terms of Shimano parts, these are the absolute bottom of the barrel. What are you to do if you want to keep your older bike rolling without replacing the entire drive train? Well I finally went used.
I discovered BPA Seattle when I used to ride the bus to work. Located only a couple blocks from my part time gig in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, it was the most convenient spot to perform some routine maintenance on my tired old Giant. Similar recycled bike shops are popping up all over. They carry vintage and used parts to suite any machine with a few miles on it. In addition, they are able to tackle many projects on the spot. Labor is only $35 an hour. Even better they let you take part in the work. If you are like me, you can have them instruct you as you perform your own repair. This is not the case in most bike shops. As it turned out, my bike needed the following parts:
- New chain (My old chain had 700+ miles on it.)
- New cassette (The old one was worn and could stand to be replaced.)
- Used Shimano Ultegra Front derailleur. (The old one took a major hit with the chain fail.)
- Used rear wheel. (The hub on the existing wheel felt as if it were full of gravel. I have been planning on a new wheelset, but am not quite ready to drop the cabbage. An inexpensive used wheel was an ideal solution.)
- My bike was a mess. It needed a lot of fine tuning. (I am decent with most repairs, but tuning derailleurs is a bit beyond my capabilities.)
Even on a Saturday, the folks at BPA were willing to drop everything to get me rolling. Unfortunately my bike was quite the can of worms. It had a lot of issues that I had been putting off. This is partially due to the fact that new parts are not available. I spent most of the afternoon at BPA. I missed the parade, but in the end, I got matching parts, at a great price and my bike rides like butter. Oh she is so sweet! The first commute on my freshly tuned bike was a dream.
In addition to used parts and mechanics, BPA also has rentals, sales and will rebuild your classic. Overall I was impressed with the speed, ability of the mechanics and the price. I have a great mechanic that I know and trust. If I had a newer bike that needed parts, that is the first place I would go. However, If I wanted to keep a classic rolling (like my 2004 Giant OCR1), buy a new to me vintage bike or learn more about turning my own wrenches (maybe they should offer classes)… I am going to BPA.