If I had to choose my best quality as a person, it would be a toss-up between my unwavering bravery and my profound modesty. Indeed, it’s precisely because of my bravery that Classic Cycle has regularly been furnishing me with vintage bicycles to ride–see, I’m perhaps the last living cycling writer willing to risk my life by riding bicycles equipped with dangerously primitive technology such as inner tubes, rim brakes, mechanical shifting, and [gasp] quill stems. Currently I am riding their 1989 Specialized RockCombo, a bicycle my elder son has dubbed the “Eye of the Tiger Bike” owing to its dated color scheme (or “colorway” if you’re the kind of person who buys Casio G-Shock collabo watches):
Well, this past Friday, a box arrived at my abode:
Upon which someone had scrawled the following words:
I opened it and found a pair of very smart wool jerseys:
As well as this postcard:
And of course the bicycle referenced therein:
Since my son would be riding this bicycle, I took inventory of its safety features. The fork ends lacked “lawyer lips:”
Please note the term “lawyer lips” refers to these:
And not these:
In case it wasn’t immediately obvious, those are Clarence Darrow’s lips:
Please note that this is an important distinction, because filing off your lawyer lips is your own business, whereas filing off your lawyer’s lips is assault at the very least.
Anyway, the front skewer did come with safety tabs, which I promptly discarded:
The bicycle was also equipped with a front reflector, which I promptly removed:
As well as a mighty pie plate, which I left in situ, having learned the hard way that the come in extremely handy on a child’s bicycle:
Speaking of safety, your child should always have access to some sort of stopping mechanism, and to that end the bike had a cantilever brake up front:
Yet oddly I did not see a brake at the rear. “Hmmm, that’s odd. I guess safety standards really were much lower back then!,” I mused–until I finally discovered that the brake had somehow slipped down to the underside of the chainstays:
So I pushed on it and pushed on it until I was able to get it back up to the seat stays again:
By the way, in anticipation of the pedant who is invariably going to point out that this sort of brake placement used to be common on mountain bikes, I’m going to preemptively gouge my own eyes out with a tire lever so I don’t have to read it.
Oh, speaking of the brakes, here are those giant brake levers Paul mentioned:
Archimedes would certainly approve.
In addition to the abundant safety features, Paul had also included a saddle bag:
Complete with an integrated tool kit reminiscent of an automotive spare tile well:
A yellow bottle cage and blue chainring bolts give the bike a custom vibe:
And a seat tube sticker reveals that the bicycle first rolled out of Whittier Cyclery in Whittier, CA:
And so clean is the bike that it looks like it did so just yesterday:
My son was ecstatic to receive his very own “Eye of the Tiger Bike,” and I must say the timing couldn’t have been better, since he’s quickly growing out of his other bikes and I’d been planning to get him something bigger for the springtime.
Aesthetics aside, there’s funamentally not much difference between this and the modern Specialized Hardrock 24″ mountain bike he’s been riding–apart from the shifting, of course. That bike has indexed trigger shifting, whereas this one has thumbshifters that are really “indexed” in name only. (Yes, they do click when you shift them, but the chain isn’t necessarily going to move to the next cog without a little finesse.) Given this, I figured it just made more sense to dispense with the indexing altogether and put the rear shifter in friction mode. “It’s weird, but I like it!,” he declared, and he’s quickly getting the hang of it.
So far we’ve done a few rides with it, including a proper father and son ride with me on the RockCombo:
That’s a lotta turquoise!
I also went a little further afield this weekend astride the RockCombo in my capacity as the Classic Cycle Old Crap Test Pilot–and when Paul dubbed me that in the postcard, he wasn’t kidding:
If you’re wondering whether “Old Crap” refers to me or the bikes, the answer to that question is “Yes.”
As for the RockCombo, I’m really enjoying it, and now that I’m used to it I find it quite capable offroad, even on roots and rocks:
I wish I could say the same for the pilot.