There are presently 7 bikes in the house, of which I can lay claim to three. Of those 3 I have one “primary” that sees the most mileage, one that is gradually being taken over first by my wife and now my oldest son, and one I have not ridden much in years, but is remaining as a possible project. I’ll feature the other two at some later point, but for now, here is the bike I’m most likely to be seen on:
2001 Marin Larkspur “City Commuter” with modifications (of course).
I scored this machine on eBay last year when I realized that I was enjoying riding more than I anticipated, and my Bontrager mountain bike was too small for me. The seller was new to auctioning and did everything wrong, from incorrectly listing what he had, to overcharging for the shipping, to having the auction go off on a Monday afternoon. I paid $125, and that included a nice wind trainer. I was also able to drive the 50 miles to the Philly area to pick it up, thus eliminating the exorbitant shipping charges. He had pictured the bike with a Brooks B17s and a computer, but then removed them after the sale. Since I already had two Brooks saddles and a computer, plus I kind of felt that I was taking advantage of his inexperience, I didn’t press the issue. He later auctioned the Brooks for around $60.
I was looking for an “all rounder” specifically with a steel frame and 700c wider tires (It has 35’s.) I wanted something more comfortable for riding back roads with potholes; as well as the ability for limited trail riding. Marin marketed the Larkspur as a “city commuter”, with a mountain-like set-up including Rapid-fires and straight handlebars. I originally outfitted her with an older Brooks Pro; and pulled the Moustache bars and bar cons that I had put on the Bontrager. Some new cables, a set of SKS fenders on clearance from Nashbar, plus a Trek rear rack; and we were good to go. You can also see the 12wt dual beam Cygolight; and that’s a 20 year old Vetta C-15 computer.
I put around 1200 miles on it over the summer mostly with different rides around the area on weeknights, and a longer ride on the York County Rail Trail on most weekends. This winter I’ve made a few changes based on that experience:
First, I swapped out the moustache bars for a pair of Bontrager cyclocross 46cm’s that were also an eBay purchase. I really like the moustache, and would recommend them for a commuter bike, but I found my hands getting uncomfortable after 20 miles or so. ‘just not enough positions for steady-state cruising. I like the fact that the Bontragers have a limited drop and a fairly wide stance; plus I was able to mount a pair of Tektro interrupter levers that I had in the parts bin.
I also started having major comfort problems with the Brooks Pro. After about 25 miles, I was having serious crotch pain despite all kinds of adjustments. My theory was that the leather just wore out and was no longer supporting me as it should. I was leaning towards a B17 because of the flatter profile when I ran across the Selle Titanico. Partly due to the hype, partly due to the recommendations, and partly due to utter desperation, I cleaned out the change jars on my dresser and paid the $150 for the higher end model in “mahogany.” I think black would probably match the bike better, but my hope is to someday upgrade to another frame, as well as score some leather wrap for the bars.
So far I only have a few shorter rides with this set-up, but the initial results are promising. If I could change some things, I’d go for a bigger frame. This is listed as a 19” and feels much like a compact 56cm. You can see from the seat post and stem that I could easily ride a 58 – possibly even a 60cm. I’d also like to swap out the 170mm triple cranks for 175’s. Finally, I’d lower the front gearing from 52/46/32 to something more like 48/38/28.
It’s not a Rivendell, but I’m pleased with what I have. I’m the type that is always lusting after something better, but I’ve been reasonably restrained. I’m not too fussy about the components as long as they don’t give me trouble, and I don’t fret over the weight. I’m just basically looking for reliable transport that I can use to get and keep in shape, enjoy the scenery, and go on family outings as well. And you have to admit, she does have a certain élan or “cool factor” to her.