It is great to know that others see the merit in restoring vintage bicycles. I met Jodi briefly at a market. Later she emailed me about the possibility of building her a bicycle:
Hi there - I saw your bikes at the market in Antigonish on Saturday and fell in love!
Ive been looking to buy my first bike since I was a teenager (Im 44!) and have been looking at different options. I cant afford to buy a beautiful new light blue cruiser with a box on the back and a basket on the front (my dream...lol) from a bike shop...I do see bikes that fit this description in Walmart and Can tire but doubt they have any quality at all. I like the idea of refurbishing rather than landfill filling. Do you have anything currently in stock that may suit me? Im a single mom with university aged kids, so Im on a tight budget. I appreciate your response. Have a good day!
This warmed my heart. It is exactly what FreeLander is all about. Helping people find a bicycle that they can enjoy, afford and is easy on the environment. So after a few more emails and pictures, we set off to build Jodi her "dream cycle".We started with a generic step-through frame and stripped it to bare metal. The colour blue was chosen and the paint applied. It came out fabulous. Next we looked at the existing parts that came with the frame and what used parts we had that were suitable to see where we could add environmental "value" to the bicycle. In the end the frame, wheels, one brake calliper, stem, headset and seat post were all recycled.
Next came the drive train. Personally I find most bicycles geared too high (hard) for everyday riding. The size of the front chain ring ('sprocket') is a major factor in how easy a bicycle is to pedal. They are sized according to the number of teeth present. For example a road (racing) bicycle will typically have two chain rings, a 42T and 52T. The other determinant is the size of the cogs ('sprockets') on the back wheel. The most common set of cogs are 14T-28T. The easiest gear is when you place the chain on the smallest in front and largest in the back. We gave Jodi's bicycle a 36T chainring. This made cycling up hills a breeze and still allowed cruising at a good clip on the flats.
The other aspect of the drive train that makes for ease of use is indexed shifting. Shifters (gear control levers) were once all friction. That meant having to "feel" for the gear, often resulting in the chain not finding its place precisely on the desired cog. Newer index shifting, means when the shift lever is pushed or pulled the chain will automatically find its place aligned on the next cog, either up or down, as desired. The remainder of the drive train (rear derailleur, chain, pedals, bottom bracket and freewheel (cogs) were all new.
A cruiser style handle bar was chosen to provide Jodi with an upright riding position and a new contour comfort saddle was installed to match the new tan FreeLander Leather Handle Bar Grips with cork underlay. Seat are like shoes; sometimes they need to be broken in and sometimes they need to be returned. So the option to swap the seat after a trial period is a great idea. A rear carrier (rack), flat brushed aluminum fenders and an House of Talents hand woven grass basket completed the look. But more importantly, these are essential items for getting the most from you bicycle and being able to use it for commuting to work or running errands. Sadly, these are left off most bicycles nowadays. Ah, but the real character of this bicycle comes from the Skull and Cross Bones decals chosen by Jodi to reflect here occupation as an x-ray technologist.
So as with all FreeLander Bicycles, Jodi now is in the "evaluation" phase. It is difficult to know if a bicycle is right for you until you have ridden it on many occasions along roads with different contours and elevations. Hopefully, this bicycle will meet with approval. If not, there is always the option to return it and try something different either from us or from another Bicycle shop. It seems that is is working out so far...so good:
I'm loving this bike so much. It's a real piece of art and certainly getting a lot of attention. I've been biking everywhere and getting better all the time. Thanks again so much. It makes me so joyful and full of light energy...
Take care, Daryl