Bicycle Thoughts

Everyone knows I love doing things the hard way. Large format. Film development. Doing my own scanning. Taking the train. But this one time, I’m beginning to think about making things a little easier on myself.

I ride an internal hub bicycle. Everywhere. I’ve ridden nothing but internal hub bikes for the last eight years. My current bike is a Globe 3, which actually has seven gears. Mostly I commute on it, but I’ve toured across several states on it. It does well enough, but lately, I’ve been thinking about other options for touring.

I started with a three speed hub. Cheap and reliable as a brick. Well, it was after I figured out the hub had holes on it larger than my spokes which is why they were breaking all the time. The generous application of washers around the spokes solved that. Later, I gave that bike away and moved up to a seven speed hub from Shimano in this bike. It’s also as reliable as a brick. In five years of owning it, the only maintenance I have done is having the lube changed once, which cost me the princely sum of $20.

My custom head badge painted by my beloved.
My custom head badge painted by my beloved.

But on the recent tour, I exposed a couple of weaknesses. I knocked the rear wheel out of true, and it’s been a pain getting it fixed. It still has a hop in it, and I think it’s probably not as round as it should be. If I had a cassette in the drive train, it would be simple to just swap the whole wheel out. But since it’s a hub, I’ll probably have to pay to have someone build a ┬ánew wheel for me. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a bit more pricey to do, but mostly it’s time-consuming. I have to take it to the LBS to do, as I lack the skills to build a wheel myself, and let them do it. Since it takes time, a repair like this tends to get pushed back some while other, quicker fixes get addressed. I can’t blame them for doing it, but it does leave me without a way to commute.

The other problem is one typical of internal hubs. I am always wishing I had a gear in between the ones I have when climbing. My options are always too high or too low. And on the flats, my top gear is still too low, but I can’t really change that without sacrificing my low gear’s effectiveness.

I suppose it’s time to consider a drive train change or a new bike. Doing things in a little easier way might not be a bad idea.

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