Match Making

I try very hard to resist the still strong urges to bring more bicycles into my life.  Wonderful when I can scratch the itch without adding to the herd by helping others find quality used bicycles on eBay and Craigslist.  I’ve done it half a dozen times for folks, the last time for my high school friend in Nebraska.  Isn’t this a handsome find?  L

I try to tailor my advice to the seeker, but generally end up suggesting searches focused on Japanese bicycles from the 80s with original mid to high level components showing signs of little or no wear.  Good components generally mean the frame tubes will be good quality.  Little wear suggests the bike has been used a few times and then put away for decades (as is the case with so very many bicycles).  Less chance the bicycle has been crashed.  Better chance the wheels will be round and true.  As far as models go, racers are fun for go fast weekend rides in the country.  Tourers or mountain bikes are good for carrying loads or commuting.

This time my friend found a Lotus touring bicycle.  I think it is the Odyssey (based on the cantilever brakes).  Cantilever brakes generally indicate a touring bicycle with relaxed geometries and clearances that accept larger tires and fenders,  attributes which make touring bicycles good candidates for speedier commuters.

The proud owner has done me the favor of providing his thoughts (thanks friend!), which follow:

Monkey Wrench helped me get it going–brake levers were missing a piece, cables were shot, and it needed a general tune.  None of this I probably would have recognized or could have fixed.  Anyway, almost a year to the day after I bought it, I got the chance to take a long ride yesterday, and I must say I had a blast.  This bike is a “take your time” bike, a “check out the scenery” bike, it can go fast–but is better coasting along.  It’s also not an in town bike, definitely a road bike, a touring bike, that’s where it’s talents would be showing off.  I like the handling, I like the angle in which I sit on the bike, and it eats up hills.

Seat looks a little low.  Either the frame is a smidge too big or the seat could come up a bit.  Neither are fatal, so long as he is comfortable.  I am bummed that I didn’t notice the Shimano AX cranks and pedals (see the big pedal axle holes on the cranks in the first picture).  With these cranks, you either have to stick with hard to find Shimano AX pedals or find the adaptors that thread into the cranks to make standard pedals fit (a pair is now offered on eBay f0r, gulp, $150).  Also, the AX pedals require special toe clips that take a little patience to find on eBay.  A Norwegian seller is currently offering four pair for $40 each.  Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the $150 adaptors.  My advice is to wear out the AX set up (or at least wait a year to confirm that you are in fact in love with the bicycle) and then replace the cranks with ones that accept standard pedals.  That or offer the pedals and cranks on eBay.  Might get enough from crazy collectors to allow the purchase of nice used Sugino cranks and MKS pedals.

I see more Lotus’ out here than I did growing up in Nebraska, probably because the company was headed by a father and son team in New York.  They designed bicycles that were built in factories in Japan and Italy.  A good business model until exchange rates moved, making Japanese imports too costly.  That was the beginning of the move to Taiwanese and Chinese bicycle production.L and O

Glad to see his big smile.  Now that the bicycle is sorted, with a little preventative maintenance this should be a good and versatile bicycle that will serve my friend for the rest of his life (unless he rides it enough to wear it out–here’s hoping).

Here’s wishing my friend a summer filled with many enjoyable days atop the saddle.


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