In Toronto, I have a Rocky Mountaineer hybrid bicycle. It’s light and fast, yet practical enough to use for most day to day trips. But it is too valuable to leave sitting around a university campus.
I therefore decided to get myself a new bicycle when I moved to Waterloo, with three main criteria:
Theft-proof: It should be unattractive to thieves, given the high theft rate around the university.
Practical: As my only vehicle, it needs to be able to ride in any weather and have a large cargo capacity. It should also be reliable.
Efficient: I don’t want to be sweaty when I get to my destination.
I ended up buying a SuperCycle road bike from Canadian Tire for $150. I mainly liked its lightweight aluminium frame and its low cost.
From the factory, the bike did not meet a single one of my criteria. As the cheapest road bike at Canadian Tire, it is extremely common so it would be hard to trace if it were stolen. It had no carrying capacity. And its components were rubbish, so no amount of adjustment could get the gears to run smoothly.
I then embarked on my transformation of a crappy bike to a somewhat useful one.
I decided to repaint the bicycle to make it unique and traceable. I was aiming for something with little taste – I didn’t want to increase the value.
I peeled off the stickers,
wrapped the tubes in painter’s tape, cut out my designs with a box cutter, and painted with some leftover automotive rust paint.
Et voilà! A less nondescript SuperCycle!
To improve its practicality, I was fortunate to have access to free parts left over from my father’s time as a bicycle racer. I found a rack, saddlebags and fenders to put on the bike. I also swapped the awful SuperCycle seat for one off my Schwinn mountain bike.
The bottom bracket wore out after a few months of riding, and on the advice of a mechanic, I replaced the entire unit with a better one rather than merely replacing the bearings. It was definitely the right thing to do – I have not had any issues since.
I also got fed up with the grinding gears, so I took off the gear mechanism (and kickstand while I was at it). I made a single-speed rear hub from parts in my garage, and bought a chain tensioner. The modification got the bike running smoothly and lightened it by over a kilogram!
Now that I’ve dealt with the main issues, I’m fairly pleased with my bicycle. I really like the fact that I can travel more quickly and with less effort than most other students, who have heavy mountain bikes. That said, if I had the opportunity to do it over, I would not buy a new SuperCycle. I expect that I would have had a better experience if I had bought a used bike for the same price.