When I bought my beautiful 1970 Mazda 1800, one of its attractions was being simple enough that I could comprehend the machine, or hope to. I liked the idea of a relatively simple machine that I could work on. My older brother Michael had some cars he worked on including a couple Volvo 164s from the late sixties or early seventies. I didn’t like the idea that newer cars have computers to control them. Computers make things too complicated. 

I never got the tools or much of the knowledge to fix my own car, but the simplicity of bicycle mechanics is truly accessible. I have a tool box with a bunch of really basic miscellaneous tools I have collected over the years and that was all I needed to fix the new bike Jake gave me.

I rode the Nishiki down to Olympic Outfitters to pick up a new inner tube, two pairs of break pads, and new handlebar grips. All together these parts set me back almost $50, which seemed kind of expensive but I really can’t complain considering the bike was free. 

Replacing the inner tube didn’t give me much trouble. I was going to patch the original but it looked like the previous owner had botched the patching job. I have replaced blown-out tires on cars a couple of times, and that has never been too much of a problem. Jack the car up, push/pull with all your might against that socket wrench, and the wheels come off. Getting the tire back on a bicycle wheel has been difficult for me in the past, but this one didn’t give me much trouble. 

Brakes, on the other hand, would be way out of my league on a car. And, as it turns out, they’re pretty close to being out of my league on a bicycle. I got the new brake pads into functional condition, but not up to my standards. I want to be able to skid the rear tire if I brake too hard and do a stoppie if I brake too hard in the front. I plan to take advantage of the services at the Evergreen Bike Shop in the near future to help me tune it up just right.

The handlebar grips I bought were cork. They look fancy but were pretty cheap. I had to cut them to fit the bike, and that wasn’t tough. They are to replace the original grips which I think might have had gel inserts that seem to have melted.  I guess if I were to draw a parallel to car ownership I remember stitching a leather steering wheel cover onto the steering wheel of a Honda Accord my mom had when I was younger. That took a lot longer. 

After replacing these parts, I washed and oiled the bike. I took it out on a debut ride downtown for dinner.  I suppose it’s a bit of an improvement over the Nishiki, definitely in fit, but it’s also a far cry from my Giant that was stolen. Hopefully this bike will be a little less desirable for thieves.