It’s always a sad moment when a bicycle leaves your household.
Actually, that’s not true. Sometimes a bike goes away and you never think about it again. Or, sometimes you think about it often, but when you do you are overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude for the fact that it’s gone, which is what happens whenever I recall this bike:
Wow that thing sucked.
Belt drive monstrosities notwithstanding, yesterday I said goodbye to a bike, and while far from perfect I will always think fondly of it. That bike is the American M-16 from Classic Cycle, which looked like this when I received it back in January of 2020:
The bike appealed to me aesthetically and mechanically, though my first long ride reminded me that straight, narrow bars, short chainstays, and a reliance on tire tread instead of tire volume for traction were not the recipe for comfort on long mixed-terrain rides:
Then there was the chainsuck–the bike devoured the chain exuberantly nearly every time I shifted into the granny–as well as the lack of tire clearance in the rear triangle, which meant that the knobs of the tires pictured above were slowly eating away at the chainstay.
Eventually though I realized (as are many other people these days) that, while the mountain bikes of yore may no longer be the best mountain bikes, they are quite satisfying to ride on what people generally refer to today as “gravel:”
Narrower, less-aggressive tires, a more comfortable saddle, and flat pedals were the first steps in transforming this bike into the casual rambler it wanted to be (though one could argue I’m projecting and it’s I and not the bike who is undergoing a transformation into a casual rambler), and eventually I refined it with more sumptuous tires, more upright bars, and pedals more in keeping with the bike’s ethos:
Thusly equipped, the bike made for a great casual yet zippy grab-and-go all-arounder:
But then came the RockCombo…
…which is of course an upgrade in every way from my previous Specialized:
I mean the Tarmac was a really nice bike, but the RockCombo is the kind of bike you can really sink your teeth into–especially if you don’t plan to start racing again, which I emphatically do not, though I suppose the fact I feel compelled to emphasize this means I’m ripe for a relapse.
Anyway, not only is the RockCombo a fitting replacement for the plastic Fred Sled, but it also makes the M-16 more or less redundant, inasmuch as it is of more or less the same vintage while at the same time much more comfortable and versatile. So as of yesterday the M-16 is now en route to Bainbridge Island from whence it came, and as Classic Cycle’s designated Old Crap Test Pilot I’m looking forward to my next mission:
I’d better update my tetanus shot.