Thursday, April 27, 2017

Retiring the Ross

I arrive with a heavy heart to report the news that my rusty-but-trusty workhorse has finally kicked the bucket. Final photos have been taken with it sitting on the kitchen table in an effort to give it a proper send-off. 

I have had this 1979 Ross Professional Gran Tour since September of 2014 and since then, it has traveled at least 4000 miles. Not much in the grand scheme of things, but considering the fact that it was already on its way out when I got it, and the fact that this is a time in my life where a lot is still changing, this bike has experienced quite a bit in its final life.

For what this bike had been through, I think it held up pretty well. Snow, salt, jumping off curbs (or actual dirt jumps), living outside, and never being cleaned. I certainly wouldn't wish this kind of life on any machine in hindsight, but that's what I built it for. It even went on several longer trips without giving any trouble.

I won't go into detail on a lot of the things that I already covered in this post (it's hard to believe I only had it for a year at that point, and rode it another year and a half after) because it hasn't changed since then aside from getting its old Schwinn stem back. What really did it in was the rear derailleur was dying again. The discovery was made after a week of particularly harsh winter weather, when even the lock was frozen. This was the bike's third rear derailleur and since I was planning to retire the bike after graduation in May, I realized it wasn't worth the extra work and investment. Closer inspection of the frame indicated that the areas around the lugs were already extremely rusty, as expected, and the seat stays were actually bowed backward slightly, possibly a result of landing too many jumps.

The rest of what I have to say cannot be woven into any sort of cohesive story, so let's just enjoy some detail shots

The "brifter" setup was definitely my favorite part of this bike. It had always worked flawlessly and comfortably so I removed the handlebars, shifters, and brake levers as one piece so I could use them on a future beater bike. I think I would actually prefer these to bar-ends, but I'll find that out soon.

I added some Bookman leopard print retro-reflective stickers last year. When a light is shined directly on them, they shine very brightly white.

The Continental Tour Ride tires I've been using since the last post are fantastic and I would definitely like to use them again on an all-purpose bike. Decent grip in the snow, great in the rain. Fast-rolling and comfortable with none of the attributes exhibited by heavy or knobby tires. I'm not sure how much they weigh but they don't feel like much on a bike like this. Something strange I found was that all of my bikes with salmon Kool Stop pads, including this one, experienced cracking of the tires while bike with other pads, even with the same tires undergoing the same usage, did not. I think the dust from these pads tend to dehydrate the rubber if it's not washed off.

I found the Planet Bike Comfort Classic saddle to be a great all-rounder for short trips, but it became slightly uncomfortable on longer rides due to its width and profile. Modern saddles are hit-and-miss and tend not to be the best for me on long rides; I have yet to find something that feels as nice as a Brooks. I left this one on the bike because this bike lived outside and most of my trips were short.

The Planet Bike rack and fenders were things I got for free early on and they have never disappointed. The rack has an excellent load capacity. The Sunlite Utili-T pannier was not completely waterproof as they said it would be, but at least water did not readily seep in like it did with my other panniers. In its defense, the inner layer could be pulled inside out and left laying across the rack to dry. It too had a large capacity that complimented the rack.

I'm still not sure whether I should re-use these Matrix Vapor rims. They're 32h and slightly out of true at this point. I didn't spot any cracks around the spoke holes like people sometimes say they find, but they have been through a lot. As for wear on the braking surfaces, I haven't checked but it could be bad. I may retire these wheels anyway, given that I had never ever serviced the bearings over the 2.5 years of harsh riding and outdoor storage

The coke bottle mud flap has performed well and did not need re-attachment. I have moved the rack and fenders temporarily onto the retro-direct bike, but they will probably end up on my new beater.

The "alloy" brake calipers I installed were steel instead of aluminum, but I knew that. Steel is an alloy too, so the seller didn't really lie ... I added the saddle/frame bag a few months ago and only remember using it a couple times, but figured it would be good to have just in case.

I have stripped off all the parts and thrown out the bad ones (meaning most of them). I chopped the worn crankset at the drive side because they arms wouldn't budge, unsurprisingly, and removed the bottom bracket which at this point sounded like rocks. The bare frame will hang on the wall of my new home after I transplant myself. This bike has given way to too many great bike memories and experiences for me to just let go of it. There was a close call last October when I lost the bike after a night at the bars, only to find it days later in the flower bed next to the apartment. Those few days were stressful: I didn't know where the bike was abandoned, how I got home, and worse, who could be riding around on my bike. Part of that was a safety concern.

I saved the Ross from certain death in September 2014 and gave it one last hurrah. Judging by its as-found condition, it had probably been a long time since it was truly loved. I was reluctant to admit my love for this bike for a while, but I realized later on that we had both treated each other to a pretty interesting experience. The bike was my test mule during a time when my knowledge of bicycles grew from zero to one hundred, and I probably took it on more long, fast rides than it had been a part of in its first life. It went out with a bang - thankfully, not literally. Unlike most of my beloved Raleigh 3-speeds, this bike held its own distinct spot in my stable and it has yet to be replaced. I have a proper road bike now, but not one that I would ride to the bar. I have a bar bike, but not one with low gears and drop bars. I have a bike that loves gravel, but not one that I would willingly fly off dirt jumps on. Unfortunately, the slightly-premature retirement of the Ross means I'll have to endure the summer before my big move, after which I can build another bike that will fill its shoes. On this new bike, the spirit of the Ross shall live on through the brifter handlebar setup.

An obligatory rear shot to conclude the post. Rest easy, old friend.