Working p/time in a bike shop and being a bit of a retro man has its disadvantages. The main problem being this, although the new season’s stock excites the rest of the staff and customers it rarely makes my pulse quicken. Whereas some of my workmates have trouble taking home any of their pay my wages are safely deposited for Adi to spend on mundane things like our weekly groceries.
And things aren’t likely to get any better in the future as the sort of stuff I’m interested in is only likely to come into the shop occasionally as a result of a repair job or when a customer wants to show me his latest heritage project. These bikes are never for sale at a reasonable price or likely to be used for anything other than a quick spin along the cycleway on a sunny afternoon.
Things were looking grim until I discovered TradeMe the second hand internet site. Now my prayers have been answered. Tinkering about on bikes for close to forty years gives me an advantage when looking at old stuff. I can peruse other people’s bike junk at will and get a bit of excitement when bidding on things. I can now acquire some of the top quality components that eluded me when I was growing up. Back then I foolishly wasted my money on stuffed toys for potential girlfriends instead of investing wisely on handmade race frames and cycling kit. I still managed back then to buy quite a bit of bike stuff (a lot of which I still have) but I could have done so much better if I hadn’t been distracted in other ways.
The final gem in this whole thing is that this once top gear is usually as cheap as chips because today’s punters are focused on the latest offering from China in carbon fibre. I can snatch up a handmade lightweight steel frame or Italian brake set for the price of an evening out. I’ve missed the odd thing due more to my poor bidding technique or lack of attention than any concerted opposition. But I have now mastered this and feel pretty confident generally in winning my prize. I certainly have a better strike rate than I ever had with the high maintenance girls at college and Uni.
With a bit of forward thinking I should be able to continue to stock the workshop to such an extent that when I want to complete a repair or start a new cycle project, I will have all the retro parts on hand. This leads me to my current project of re building Adi a touring GT Zum to replace the one she had nicked in Vietnam recently. Her new bike is now complete and has been road tested. However she lost with her old bike a set of retro touring wheels that I had put on the bike because they were more reliable and tougher than the sport wheels she usually runs day to day. I had a pair of campag record hubs and a pair of Shimano 600 hubs waiting but no 36hole Mtb rims to use.
Low and behold, what should surface on TradeMe?
Only three brand new 1990’s campag mtb rims and a matching pair of new and still wrapped FIR mtb rims!! All for chicken feed! Mavic rims are still available but are difficult to get here and are expensive. I simply need to buy a couple boxes of DT spokes and hey presto 2 pairs of new /old wheels. You can never have too many wheel sets for your Mercian.
O that’s right, one set is for Adi but I’m sure I can borrow them if the need arises.