Tuesday, June 16, 2009

You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you

A funny thing happened when I built up my latest bike, a Shogun 600 from the 1980s. I usually build my bikes entirely around function and as for looks I often say "the grungier, the better. Less likely to get stolen." While I appreciate the function of lugs on a frame, I don't really have any fondness for a lugged frame over a tig-welded one. But there's something about this Shogun.

The bike was pretty rough looking when it came in and it came stock with 27" wheels. I'd been thinking about making a simple, single speed roadster for a while and knew that going to 700c wheels would give me a better selection of tires. 700c wheels also give four more millimeters at the rim to allow both fenders and wider tire to coexist. The wheels I happened to have for this project were, well nice, a Bullseye hub rear, and Campy hub front and the brakes I found to fit the wheels, well they were nice as well, some old Shimano Tourney centerpulls. Then the Origin8 bars turned out to not only look good, they're actually really comfy.

I guess I should have known on the day that I masked off the lugs and painted the frame, that I was building myself a nice bike. Later, I knew I might have gone too far when Suzanne Carlson, Bike Works original Executive Director, who was back in Seattle for a visit said "wait, that's an old, spray-painted frame? I thought it was something really expensive."

Sure, I could've made the bike grungier with some coroplast fenders, but when I found this set of perfectly good, used Planet Bike fenders in the Bike Works attic, well I can't pass up a bargain. And those Dimension Cork Grips well they were a really good deal as well and they're very comfy.

Riding the Shogun is wonderful. It's efficient on the climbs, stable on the descents and comfy all day. The bike is quick enough to get this 50 year old man every paved (or mostly-paved) place he needs to go, but not racy enough to make me want to chase down every lycra-clad team in town.

In short, the Shogun is a great bike. If it's got a shortcoming, it's that it's too nice. It's a good thing bikes can't read or have egos, because if they did, the Shogun would probably become so vain and think this post is about it.

Keep 'em rolling,

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