Daily Life

Untethered Beast

I got to untether the Beast today, and by that I mean I got my first real chance to ride a new bike, and as much as I want to say it’s named the Beast because it is an amazing ride (which it has actually turned out to be), the real reason is because getting it on the road was such as beastly experience.

The Beast is intended to serve as my commuter and touring bike, replacing the Trek FX3 that suddenly fell apart almost a year ago now after many years of strong and reliable service.

I’d just added a bundle of new parts, so wanted to be able to use them.

Additionally, my company had just severely cut my pay (in what has turned out to be a series of hefty cuts), so a new bike purchase was financially out of the question.

Fortunately, a bloody kind mate came to the rescue and presented me with a bike frame that not only fit, but was an absolute ripper. And there were parts included, too.

And that’s when things started to get beastly.

I had intended to use the opportunity to build a bike for myself. I proved to be a useless learner. I bought the wrong parts, didn’t know how to find others and was just too inept to get the job done.

And it turned out that a lot of the parts I’d hoped to re-use couldn’t be utilized, so I was looking at the purchase of pretty much a whole set of parts at a time when the weakening yen was making overseas purchases unpalatable. The upshot was, things were gonna take a lot longer and cost much more than I had originally planned.

I got a bit of a break along the way.

My local bike shop got flooded out, and suddenly the owner was offering a lot of goods at up to 90% off, which suddenly made parts purchases accessible where they had seemed shut off. I soon had a full complement and was ready to go.

Unfortunately, the same disaster that provided the cheaper parts also prevented the LBS owner from working on the bike. But the fact that I had bought a lot of Chinese-made parts meant that other bike shops in the area were also unwilling to deal with them, leaving me no other option than to wait until the owner was able to work on the bike.

Finally, the work was completed on Monday night. In terms of my initial goals of saving money and learning how to build a bike by myself, the project was an abject failure. But I made a little progress and learned some things, so it was worth it in the end, even if one of the lessons learned was that it is far cheaper to buy a complete bike than to build one by yourself.

I was not keen on using the Sensah group set that I’d bought for the bike, having been burned when I was forced to buy the Chinese-made parts back in 2021 just before Belladonna broke down and supply issues made it impossible to choose Shimano or other manufacturers like SRAM or Campagnolo.

On a quick lunchtime jaunt yesterday, I was unimpressed as the gear changes were sloppy and the ride felt out of synch. But I realized later that was me hurrying to get back to deal with unrelenting work tension. When I got on her this morning, the Beast felt like an awesome ride; smooth, trouble-free and comfortable, with the thicker tires than I usually ride on (32 mm against 25 mm) adding comfort and stability. Hopefully, with thickly padded handlebars and disc brakes to counter the pain and progressive weakness of my hands in recent years, the untethered Beast will provide the opportunity to reintroduce longer rides and group rides back into my cycling, even if it was a beastly process getting there.