Paul Dorn: Formerly Owned Bicycles
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I'm a fanatic about bicycles, period. Road bikes especially, though I find all bikes to be fascinating and beautiful machines. The only bicycles I don't like are those that sit unused in a garage somewhere. Hence, these are bikes I separated from, either because they weren't being ridden enough, or because they, um, expired.


Image of Paul Dorn's Bianchi Pista

Bianchi Pista
This bike was sold in 2004

I enjoyed this bike a lot for city riding. However, the frame was very stiff (good for racing on smooth tracks where power transmission is key) and the tire clearances were very tight. The largest tire I could fit was a 700x25c. Being a heavy-ish rider, I found it to be uncomfortable for long country rides. I ended up preferring my road bike. Here's what I wrote about the Pista shortly after acquiring it.:

After moving to Davis--where the roads are flat and empty--I was attracted to the idea of a fixed-gear bike. The terrain here in California's great Central Valley is conducive to long, steady rides at a high pedaling cadence. So I bought a Bianchi Pista at San Francisco's American Cyclery. It's a nice bike, stiff and really light without the added weight of gears, cables, brakes and levers. I did install a front brake and a Brooks leather saddle, switched the rear sprocket to a 14-tooth gear, and switched the tires to Continental Ultras 700x25. But otherwise, my bike is a stock Pista. (This is an image of a 2002 Pista; mine has green decals.)

For the best explanation of how a fixed-gear bike expands your cycling perspective, see Sheldon Brown's excellent essay I've ridden this bike frequently to Winters and back on weekend jaunts, enjoying Yolo County's beautiful and flat farm terrain, the Vaca Hills in the distance, where local farmers grow rice, corn, mustard, sunflowers and lots and lots of tomatoes.

Peugeot UO-8
Sold in September 2002

I wasn't riding this bike that much, and we had to move. Here's what I wrote originally about this Peugeot:

Image of Paul Dorn's Peugeot UO-8

This was the ultimate "yard sale bike." While walking in my former Duboce Triangle neighborhood of San Francisco, I came across a sale featuring this bike. It was coated in greasy brown goo and cobwebs, the tires were flat, the corrosion beginning. I asked how much. "$10," came the reply, adding "but I'll take $8."

Well, I already had about six bikes. How could I possibly need another bike? This one is pretty neat, true. I've never owned a vintage Peugeot, and they have a certain appeal to select velo fanatics, who have been known to write paeans (pains?) and listserve rants on these idiosyncratic French machines. It is a lugged Reynolds 531 frame. Neat Simplex and SunTour components. And look at its condition. It's a PROJECT! "I'll take it," I avowed, as the seller, perhaps fearing potential litigation, tried to revoke the sale.

Anyway, this bike now lives in San Francisco, as a weekend beater. I was tired of shuttling bikes between our homes in Davis and San Francisco. I cleaned it up considerably at the Free Wheel, replaced the seat and seat post, swapped the wheels (from the old Grand Prix) and put on new Michelins--but altogether, there's about all of $80 invested in this wonderfully smooth-running machine.

Trek Touring Bike

Sadly, the bottom bracket (!?!) of this bike broke in the spring of 2002. Because of space and financial considerations, I opted to scrap it. Sigh! What a great old bike. Here's what I wrote originally about this Trek:

Image of Paul Dorn's Trek Touring Bike

In February 1999, after my Raleigh Grand Prix frame broke (see below), I was considering my options. Fix the Grand Prix? Buy a new frame and switch the parts over? Buy a whole new bike? This Trek was a great attempt at the last option mentionned. Marianne and I were spending a weekend in Jackson, CA, in the Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada foothills. This used Trek was for sale on consignment at the town's bike shop. After a little bargaining, I bought it for $150, and quite a bargain it is in my humble opinion. It's a classic lugged-steel (Reynolds 531) frame in excellent condition. Component highlights include Campy Record hubs (36-holes), Suntour Superb brakes, a Sugino triple crank and Suntour bar end shifters. I've since put 27 x 1/1/4 Continental Top Touring tires on it, replacing the Vittorias shown here. I'd guess it's about 10 - 12 years old.

It's a fantastic bike for tooling around town, short jaunts in the country, fast commutes, and so on. It has a very comfortable, long wheelbase. In May 1999 I climbed Mt. Hamilton on this bike, then rode over into the San Antonio Valley and on to Livermore, catching BART at Pleasanton. A great adventure. During Thanksgiving weekend 1999, I rode this bike from Little River, California (near Mendocino) to Comptche and then on to Boonville, in the heart of the beautiful Anderson Valley. Marianne met me there, after she'd spent the day with Muki photographing and walking on the beach.

More recently, I rode this bike on a 102-mile jaunt in December 2001 from Davis to Locke, travelling along the levee roads on the Sacramento River, returning via Rio Vista, by way of the ferries at Howards Landing and Ryer's Island ("The Real McCoy"). Locke is an historic Chinese community in the Sacramento Delta, created by agricultural laborers who were kept from owning land by the racist anti-Asian laws of the time.

This bike has also made several trips to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, when my other bikes were loaned to non-bike-owning friends so they could join Marianne and I. A car-free paradise accessible only by ferry, Angel Island is one of our favorite cycling adventures. For day-long country rides I often also use a Carradice Cadet saddlebag acquired from Wallingford Bicycle Parts.

LeMond Zurich
Sold in June 2001

I sold this bike in June 2001 to my cousin Ken. After moving to Davis--where the roads are flat and empty--I was attracted to the idea of a fixed-gear bike. So I bought a Bianchi Pista. At the urging of my wife, I was encouraged to reduce my bike stable to make room for this new acquistion. After much deliberation, I decided to sell the LeMond. It was a great bike, no doubt. But it wasn't as unique as the Koga Miyata; and, frankly, it would get more on the market. Here's what I wrote originally about the Zurich:

Image of Paul Dorn's LeMond Zurich

This is how I came to acquire this bike, the "flagship" of my stable. I had always loved my good ol' Raleigh Grand Prix road bike (see below.) However, it was perhaps just a bit too small. I had "dialed" it in by adding a longer stem, raising the seatpost and so on. It was a great riding bike. However, I had begun thinking that in a few years, I'd like to get a great well-sized road bike. Something red, perhaps Italian, definitely steel. So I was a casual shopper, looking at magazines, reading catalogs, browsing in shops. I wasn't serious. I was just researching the bike I might get in a few years when money was hopefully more plentiful. This would be my "lifetime" bike, the one I'd ride for the remainder of my time on the planet. (My wife Marianne teased that it was a male mid-life crisis bike.) So I was "shopping", but not in the market for a new bike.

Image of LeMond Bicycles Headbadge

That is, until I saw the LeMond Zurich early in 1998. The right color. The right tubes. The right component group. The right geometry. Geez, it even spec'ed my favorite tires, Continental, in the right size. Would a bike ever be this right again? I started seeing people riding them on centuries. I talked with my friends, including ol' retrogrouch Mr. Bob "I-get-my-bikes-custom-made" Schenker, all of whom, even Bob, indicated their admiration for the LeMond line. "LeMond's the only mass manufacturer making bikes with classic European geometry," said Bob.

After wearing out the LeMond catalog with multiple readings and several painful visits to bike shops to look, feel and smell the bike, I finally sprung for a 59 cm Zurich in August, 1998. One large credit card hit (ouch) and it was mine. (Can I really afford it? Shouldn't I pay off my other debt? Can I really spend this much on a bike for gawdsakes?) So far, it's been a delight to ride. In ten years or so it will still be a delight, I'm sure. And these questions will be long forgotten. (How's that for a rationalization?) One side benefit: I actually started riding my beloved Raleigh Grand Prix more, using it as a light commuting bike until its unfortunate frame break (see below.)

Raleigh Grand Prix

The drop-out on this bike broke in the spring of 1999. The bike sat in storage for several months until I decided what I wanted to do with it. I contacted some builders and got estimates for repairs. Eventually I decided to buy a new frame and transfer the components. I bought a beautiful red Koga Miyata Prologue frame, see above. It was sad, because I was very fond of my Grand Prix. Here's what I wrote originally about this bike:

Image of Paul Dorn's Raleigh Grand Prix I love all my bicycles, but I love this bike. It's light and fast, perfect for rides out on the many country roads near to San Francisco. (I also think it's sexy as all hell. Maybe not as steamy as a Colnago or a Masi, but I like its retrogrouch appeal plenty.) In addition to short jaunts to San Bruno Mountain or the Marin Headlands, Marianne and I frequently participate in centuries and 100Ks, large organized rides sponsored by charitable or bicycling groups. I participated in the 1996 Marin Century with this bike, finishing all 107 miles. It just about killed me. I thought I had anticipated everything - flats, fatigue, hunger, etc. What I hadn't anticipated was horrendous leg cramps, apparently due to not drinking enough water. I finished the ride by getting off and walking for a few minutes everytime I felt shooting pains in my legs. My average speed, even with the cramps, was 17 MPH over the whole course. I had more luck with the 1997 Sequoia Century, which featured two long climbs and little opportunity to draft off a paceline (wheelsuck). The Tunitas Creek road was about nine miles of switchbacks, meaning that at a casual pace there was about an hour of climbing. But once at the top on Skyline Drive, there was a great cooling breeze and I finished in just over seven hours in great shape.

I recently bought a Carradice bag for this bike from Rivendell, hoping to enhance its carrying capacity. Technical stuff to skip over if you're not a rabid bike idiot like me: Reynolds 531 tubeset, Shimano Ultegra brakes and levers, Shimano 105 rear derailleur, Shimano 600 (old style) hubs and front derailleur, Wolber rims, Brooks saddle, Continental Grand Prix 700 x 25 tires. I bought the seemingly rarely used Grand Prix at the Mill Valley Bike Swap about in 1996, and have since changed a lot of components. I believe it's a late-80s vintage bike.

Schwinn Cruiser SS

After having this Schwinn Cruiser for more than two years, I sold it in the fall of 1998. While it was great fun to ride, I wasn't really using it that much. And I also needed to make some room. Here's what I wrote about this bike:

Image of Paul Dorn's Schwinn Cruiser SS OK, so this is a silly vanity bike. It's comfortable, heavy and slow. It has very little practical value, can't carry much, no rack, not great for long distances. I just think it looks cool. It's a blast to ride, though a little tough going up hills. It's my favorite bike to ride in Critical Mass, the monthly celebration of cycling that happens in San Francisco on the last Friday of each month. For the past five years, several hundred cyclists, and often a couple thousand, gather at Justin Hermann Plaza to ride together through the city. Our destinations include areas like China Beach, Sutro Park, Sausalito (every June), Stern Grove and elsewhere. Since starting in San Francisco, Critical Mass has become an international phenomenon. Tech specs: High tensile steel (the heavy stuff, no lightweight titanium or carbon fiber for this baby), block pedals, coaster brake, kickstand.

Specialized Hardrock

This frame broke in July 1997. I bought the GT Nomad hybrid (see above) as my replacement commuter. Eventually Specialized provided a replacement frame, honoring their lifetime warranty, and I built it up into a MTB. (See above.) This is what I first wrote about the Hardrock:

Paul Dorn's Specialized Hardrock, Original Version This is my everyday beater bike, aka a two-wheeled urban assault vehicle. It's sensible and practical and dependable. The Hardrock (what a name, that Specialized company must be filled with jokers) is marketed as a mountain bike, but I've customized it to be essentially a hybrid. It's got slick tires, lights, fenders, a rack, a bell, and so on. It now weighs several pounds more than it did new; in fact, it's usually much heavier than my cruiser. I ride this seven miles each way to and from work. With weekends and special trips, I total about 5,000 miles of riding a year on this bike. I hope it lasts a while. To keep it running well, I work on the Hardrock frequently at the Free Wheel, a community bike shop on Hayes Street in the Haight. For a small membership fee you can use their tools and stands to repair and tune up your bike. Check it out. Tech specs: Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur, Alivio brakes, IRC tires, Cateye lights, etc.

Get comfortable on a new bike - Bike Commute Tips Blog
Buying a Bike: New or used? - Bike Commute Tips Blog
Is the bicycle industry waking up? - Bike Commute Tips Blog
Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips: Low-Tech & No-Tech Ways to Find, Ride, & Keep a Bicycle

Related Articles by Paul Dorn
Bike Commute Tips Blog - my continuing experiences
Pedaling to Save the City - the Critical Mass bicycling movement
Car reliance is roadblock for California - op-ed published in Sacramento Bee
Baseball, Apple Pie, and...Bicycling? - Bike facilities lacking at California ballparks
Cycling in Osaka, Japan - the use of bicycles for transportation in Japan
Class and Traffic - the often overlooked costs of auto-dependency
Hydrogen Fantasies - new fuel for vehicles, or just hype?
Paul Dorn's Bicycles - reasons, considerations and rationalizations on bike types
Cycling in Davis, CA - the most bike-friendly city in the US

Comments? Suggestions? Contact || Updated 06.19.08