I’ve Been: Giving My Road Bike A Makeover
As I’ve written before, play is very important to me, it’s even part of my self-care. And one of my favorite ways to play is on my bike. But as much as I love to bike riding, I didn’t love my actual bike. The fit was a bit off. The brakes were uncomfortable to reach. I felt like I was too stretched out. It never really felt as nimble as I thought it should. It was noisy in certain gears. And much less importantly, I didn’t like the basic silver style of the bike either.
With some internet research, I was able to fix all these problems.
Fixing the Fit
The biggest problem I had with my bike is how stretched out I felt when I was riding it. It made my lower back hurt, and I felt it caused me to put more of my weight in my hands triggering my RSI. As it turns out, this is a very common problem and is usually caused my a stem (the part that connects your handlebars to your fork) that is too long. For $30 I was able to get a stem that is 20mm shorter. That also made the bike feel exponentially more nimble, because now I could reach to steer easier.
The brake issue is trickier. My bike had cheap brakes that were non-adjustable. Lucky for me, my spouse had an old mountain bike that was gathering dust in the attic. I took the brakes off of that, and was able to bring the levers closer to my handle bars, making them easier to pull.
In addition to this, converted the bike to a 1x drivetrain (one big chainring in the front). Because I like the simplified layout, and with Indiana being flat I really don’t need the extra gears.
Fixing the Look
Fixing the look of the bike took considerably longer, although the process itself was simple. To start, I took the entire bike apart and cleaned it. I removed all the stickers. I sanded the finish so the new paint would stick better. To get the matte look, I used Montana spray paint. I can’t remember how many coats it took, but it was roughly two cans. I also picked up a reproduction vintage Raleigh sticker to give the bike a classic look.
I did run into an issue reassembling the bike. My cables run through the bike frame which can be hard to do on your own without special tools. The most effective way I found was to tie embroidery floss to the cable and use the shop vac to pull the thread along with the cable through the frame.
I love the end result, and knowing I’ve rebuilt the bike to be specific to my needs.