Friday, November 11, 2005

Too Lazy For Gears

Henry David Thoreau advised people to "Simplify, simplify, simplify." About a century later Bob Newhart observed that it would have been simpler if he'd said it only once. Both men made their points. While Thoreau used rhetorically rhythmic repetition, Newhart's dry and droll delivery carried the thought to the logically simple conclusion.

I have friends who are very elegant in their simplicity and they can express simplicity in beautifully simple ways. A Matt Chester frame is a wonderfully useful bit of rideable art. So is a Kogswell Model G.

My bikes also tend toward simplicity but they wind up looking and working the way they do more from a kind of scruffy kind of simple-mindedness than the elegant expression of an ideal. And that seems right to me. I know some people look at my bikes and cringe, but I look at them and smile. My bikes evolve and it's OK if they wind up looking like the punchline to a joke.

Earlier this week I met up with my pals Dusty and Brad at Recycled Cycles in Seattle. Dusty needed a bar-end shifters for a bike his brother is building up and I had a set in my parts pile. And it's always good to find an excuse for a bike ride and to see what we find at Recycled Cycles.

At the shop I found a lightly used single speed chain tensioner. This would let me make Al, my latest adopted bike, into more my kind of ride. A while back I'd removed Al's front derailler and replaced the triple crankset with an old DuraAce double crank. I'd replaced the outer ring on the crank with a chain guard and kept the 42 tooth inner ring. I figured seven gears would be plenty.

But I hadn't shifted Al in weeks. So why in the world was I hauling around that shifter and cable and rear derailler?

So Dustin and I settled on a price. Dustin got a set of old bar-end shifters for $15 and I got to make Al a little simpler. After we left Recycled Cycles, we stopped off at Ti Cycles to chat with my pals Fabien and Brian. When I showed off my new tensioner and told them of my plans Brian had to ask the question "why do you hate the gears?" I tried to explain my logic, how I really found myself not using mutliple gears and hauling around the excess bothered me. "Ah," Fabien said, "I get it. You're too lazy for gears!"



Anonymous said...

On the other hand, wouldn't it just be "simpler" to leave the bike as is? ;)

Joe Bagadonuts said...

"One is all you need." I've just gone to completely singlespeed bikes as I parted out my rarely-used-anymore (since the purchase of my singlespeed 3 years ago) geared 26" mountainbike to build up a 29" wheeled singlespeed. I may someday get gears for the 29er, just to have "in case," but it may never happen, who knows!

Ride on.