Well, I’m sure you’ve all been on tenterhooks waiting to find out what I decided to do about the bike issue. New ride? Or replace £200 worth of bits on the Condor, only to have it go wrong again two months down the line?
In the end, I went for the former option. Meet Evelyn:
It just made sense. Condor quoted me £170+ to replace my forks, headset, brake and handlebars. (Not that I’d have got them to do it, but y’know.) So I got in touch with a friend, who sold me her old frame, along with forks, headset, bottom bracket and clip-n-flip bars, for £85. Chain and brake lever were £20. Stem, brake and bar tape came to £45. (All from Brixton Cycles.) I used the front wheel from the Condor, and the rear wheel from my beloved Surly Steamroller (2007-08, RIP). Seatpost and crankset were from the Surly; saddle and pedals swapped over from the Condor.
So, that’s effectively a completely new bike for less than it would have cost to repair the old one. Well, sort of.
What’s more, it’s the first bike I’ve built up all on my own. I’m feeling slightly proud of myself, but no more than slightly, because it turns out it’s actually quite easy to put a bike together when there aren’t any complicated bits like gears to worry about. You just have to know where everything goes, and how tight you’re supposed to screw it. (I’m going to learn to build wheels next though – now there’s a challenge.)
(I still felt dreadfully embarrassed asking all my stupid questions in Brixton Cycles though, when I went in to pick up the bits I’d forgotten, and had to admit I didn’t know how to use a torque wrench in front of all stony-faced men queuing up behind me. But then on my way out I came across the same stony-faced men asking each other how to use the track pump, and realized that they were probably far more embarrassed than I was. And decided that I’m just not going to bother being embarrassed in future. The only way to learn is by asking stupid questions, fucking things up, and then trying again and getting it right. And in fact, Lincoln may or may not remember my dropping in on my very first ride on my Dawes Giro, back in 2006, and asking him to explain how to change gear. Oh, how far I’ve come already!)
So. It looks like the Condor’s no longer with us. To my surprise, I think I’ll miss it. It’s been nearly three years. I never liked it much, but we’ve been through a lot together.