The following tale was written by guest contributor, Mr. B. Watch for more great stories from him in the future.
Many years ago my nephew gave me an old chrome , probably mid 70’s, Fuji road bike. I kept it in the collection and, as with these older road bikes, they could be fitted with much larger tires than stock effectively turning them into cyclocross bikes, or a real decent city bike that could be hammered pretty good and take it. I cleaned it, put wider bars on and taped them up, new tires, seat, and cables. Meanwhile our son had grown from small to tall, in inches at least 4 higher than me, and had his eye on it.
Forward ahead to University years and our son needed transportation and thought the Fuji to be his choice of ride. I had no issue with this as he had worked hard to save for his education. He loved this bike and rode it everywhere. He took it on the train to a concert one night in a city about 90 km away , and I freaked because I thought for sure it would be gone. But no he hid it, locked it, and it came home. He rode it to his co-op work programs and to see his grandmother in a nearby town along with many places he just had to get to.
Then in November of his third year he went to a daytime event he was participating in with the university. He had locked the bike up along with many others that were on the university grounds. When he returned it was gone. He was heartbroken, and to be honest so was I. A stolen bike is just one of those things that hits deep. This one was his sidekick for 3.5 years of university. I drove around the area for the next week looking up and down streets hoping that it was just a dumb prank but it was clearly gone.
November and December came and went. The bike was still on our minds but it was pretty well a done deal, this bike was gone. Along came early January, it was -20 degrees Celsius a Friday night. Our son called and his exact words were “You won’t believe what I’m standing beside right now”. My answer was “Your bike?”. It was now in the downtown core of the city he was living in frozen in ice 2 cm deep. However, it looked (so he thought) as though it had not been all that abused. It was locked and he couldn’t get it free. The local law enforcement wouldn’t help, even though he had the serial number, very disappointing. After a back and forth and his freezing he was told to go home and try and get some sleep.
Over the weekend I was trying to figure out what to do. Come Monday morning I decided to go down and have a look. I took a battery operated grinder with me and all the bike documentation, and old photos that matched the bike, even in it’s state of rust. The bar tape, bottle cage, and tires were still the same, plus I had the serial number.
Once downtown, and seriously cold, I found the bike, had a look at it, and decided it was coming home with me. I parked my truck, got out the grinder, and just as if I owned it (which I did) cut the lock off in broad daylight and took it back to be restored and returned to its REAL owner, our son. Within 10 minutes maybe less the bike was in the back of my truck and on its way back home where it belonged. Saved from most likely being one of those bikes that everyone sees in a downtown core shackled to a post with no wheels, seat, handlebars twisted and everything else just broken. Its next stop would have been the dump if the by-law guys ever had the opportunity to cut it free.
Now that its home, I got a good look at this poor beast. It almost seemed too be back with friends and it needed to be fed and watered, as it was clearly neglected. The chrome frame, now a rust frame, in fact rust everywhere. But the bones were still very good. Nothing bent or damaged mechanically.
It was now a complete three week, after work tear down and rebuild project. Once I saw that the chrome could be (almost) brought back to its pre-stolen luster I was inspired.
I could have laid tons more photos out, but the derailleurs front and back were packed with corrosion. However, the frame and various parts, even the sprockets, all were polished back to life. The bottom bracket and headset were a bit hard to release but those, along with the freewheel, were all removed and rehabbed and as can be seen below. The finished product with new tape, chain, outer and inner cables, waxed, and lots of TLC is ours/his again. A success story that rarely happens.
No matter how well you protect things, if someone wants them without your permission, it will happen. When you park the bike, shift the bike once stopped or removed the chain from the front sprocket. If a would be CRIMINAL tries to get away fast they won’t, as the gears will clunk and bang throwing the steeler off his game and with no front chain, he/she spins while you come out of “that store” and politely ask if they need any help (with their sore nose). Better yet don’t resort to physical action because the thief usually comes out on top by charging you for protecting your property, another sad fact of life.
Try to carry a good lock, and use it.
Words and photos by Mr.B.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.