I love to cycle. I’ve never forgotten those long summer holidays where my heavy Alpina hybrid allowed me the freedom to explore far from home around the German countryside where I grew up. As I got older, I abandoned my bike in favour of the bus and then the car. About a decade ago I had the brief use of a 1980s lightweight steel 10-speed racer that I was given by my Grandfather. It had downtube friction shifters and suicide brake levers, but I’ve never forgotten the sheer feeling of speed and lightness that came from that bike as I flew around the streets of Manchester on my way to work.
Like everything else in Manchester that isn’t nailed to the floor, my ancient racing bike was stolen and I didn’t get a new one until 2012 when I purchased my current Trek 1.2 and began cycling “properly”.
My Trek 1.2 on a jaunt around Lower Wensleydale.
My Trek has been used heavily since I got it despite the fact that it doesn’t really fit me properly and with hindsight I’d have bought a touring bike instead, but what did I know back then during the summer of Wiggins and London?
The vast majority of my rides these days aren’t trying to thrash my way up the local Strava leaderboards. Instead I’ve committed to daily year-round commuting and long leisure rides exploring the local countryside. As time permits next year I’d like to try Audaxes and perhaps a few longer tours for which the trusty Trek won’t be entirely suitable and no one wants to give me £3000 to spend on a dedicated Titanium Audax machine.
So I’ve returned to the simplicity of an ancient and neglected steel 10-speed in an attempt to have a bike to do everything. It has to be rugged enough to handle a commute laden with panniers in the depths of winter, comfortable enough to ride for long distances without causing me neck and back ache, fast enough to cruise at speed on the flats, well-geared enough to lug me round the hills of the Yorkshire Dales without popping my kneecaps/lungs, it has to be easy and cheap to maintain, and above all it has to cost me almost nothing.
Where better to start than with a return to a 1980s steel 10 speed road bike?