Among the many other things on my after COP to do list has been a long standing item to deal with the damaged paint around my bike’s bottom bracket. I’d already had it checked at its last service to make sure that the signs of corrosion I’d started to notice weren’t anything too dangerous, and had been given a cautious all clear for now. But I wanted to make sure the frame would last so I picked up some paint for it, and this morning started by cleaning up the frame and taking off the kick stand so I could remove the flaking paint and touch it up.
Unfortunately, I found a bit more than I’d bargained for…
Twitter, sadly, concurred
The consensus (in so far as Bike Twitter has a consensus about anything) is that the bike might be salvagable in the hands of a decent framebuilder (steel is real and all that) but for now it is not so much a bike as a death trap – if it goes, it will go suddenly and quite painfully for anyone on board.
So I’m left with a problem, or a number of problems. Whether I opt to get a new bike, get a new frame, or try and have the frame repaired, it’s not going to be a quick process. That means my main means of transport is now the Brompton, which is fine for heading into town and back (well, less so back, given I live up a sizeable hill) but I’m not sure I relish doing anything longer on it. Still, at least I have a good second bike so I’m not completely stranded (I did recently, out of curiosity, look at whether there was any usable bus to get me into town or back, and short of a three mile walk along a B road, there isn’t).
And then there’s what to do about my big bike. Just getting the frame repaired seems like the most attractive option right now. I don’t know anything about bike geometry, but I do know that the combination of that frame, my touring bars, and my Brooks saddle, I had something I could ride pretty much all day without any real discomfort. If it can’t be fixed, finding a similar frame, if such a thing can be found – and swapping over all the components would be almost as good and has a pleasing ‘my grandfather’s axe’ sense of continuity about it.
But then there’s the question of whether I really want to just replace my bike like for like. It has been suggested in certain quarters that it weighs more than a bike ought, and that there have been advances in technology that I might want to take advantage of, like brakes that actually stop the bike. I have long thought that my next bike would probably be an e-bike, but I was thinking that would be a decision I wouldn’t have to make for a while. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go electric, mostly because I know that once I do I would probably never go back. Although maybe after I’ve slogged the Brompton up our hill for a week I’ll be more than ready for any form of e-assist.
Either way, I am preparing myself for the fact that my bike – my faithful companion on so many adventures for over 12 years – may well have pedalled its last. It feels like the end of an era.