Monday, July 4, 2011

Project: Benotto 10-speed

Since I ruined my Schwinn, I've been without a get-around bike, a bike that's reliable enough to take on short trips and that's cheap enough to warrant leaving locked up even in seedy places.

I began looking on Craigslist for a replacement get-around bike soon after wrecking the Schwinn. I knew what I wanted: another old-fashion road bike. Road bikes are faster, and for me, speed is comfort.

I found and bought a Benotto 10-speed that I guess dates to the 70's or 80's. The bike was in poor condition, but I liked how despite years of obvious neglect, both dérailleurs shifted and both brakes worked. Also, the wheels looked true enough to work as is. I figured all the bike needed to be ridable was a new chain; I would swap out the tubes and tires from the Schwinn.

To get started, I bought a new chain from the local bike shop. Then, upon ripping off the rotting tires and tubes, I realized that the old rim tape was rotted, too. (I should have guessed that before taking off the tires.) I had one roll of rim tape in my bike parts box, so I bought another roll, again from the local bike shop. After taping the rims and trying to swap on the old Schwinn's tires, I realized that the Benotto has different-sized wheels: 27-inch, not the (now) standard 700c. Twenty-seven-inch wheels are slightly larger—just enough so that tires are not interchangeable between the two sizes of wheels. So I bought new tires, but from online, not from the local bike shop. Tires are significantly cheaper online.

Finally, after receiving the tires in the mail, I put the bike together: new chain, borrowed tubes from the Schwinn, new tires, borrowed saddle from the Schwinn, borrowed pedals from the Schwinn. I made a couple of tweaks along the way. First, I used some anti-rust solvent on the rear spindle because the quick release screws were nearly stuck in place, making it hard to get the rear wheel on and off. Also, I cut the new chain two links short because the rear wheel doesn't free-spin well, and a shorter chain forces the hub to free-spin when coasting. This isn't ideal, but it works.

Now I have a working get-around bike. There's still more work to be done on it, like replacing the cables and fixing the rear hub, but the bike proved itself yesterday afternoon on its maiden voyage—a trip with Laura to the Sunnyslope swimming pool about four miles away. The bike did well—even through the dust storm on the way back.

Cost:

bike $80
chain $15
rim tape $10
tires $60
tubes $0
saddle $0
pedals $0
total $165

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