What we’re riding these days

We’re all on bikes with 26-inch wheels now!

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Both kids outgrew their bikes in August and due to the bike boom that has oodles of people getting new bikes (yay!) but makes it hard to find bikes (boo) we’re making do with what we already have.

My 11-year old is riding his big brother’s handed down Islabikes Beinn 26 Large.

My 13-year old is on my old mountain bike, a 2004 GT I-Drive 2.0. That means he’s got disc brakes and a front derailleur! …though it isn’t currently going in its granny gear so I need to futz with it a bit. A full-squish mountain bike isn’t the most practical Pacific NorthWET school commute bike due to the lack of fenders, but it’s got a bit of a built-in rear mud guard and I bought a $10 zip-tie-on Bontrager Enduro Front Fender from REI, which has become our go-to bike shop thanks to curbside pickup and more availability than our nearby shops. Most importantly, he’s always wanted a mountain bike and I only use the thing once a year when there’s snow on the ground, like four years ago during icemaggedon. When he first got his hands on the bike he wanted to hit every unpaved patch of ground near home. Three flat tires later (never on his chunky tires, just me and his brother) I ruled that the alleys were too full of hidden blackberry brambles so now we stick to the many unimproved roadways with their plain gravel.

I had been dreaming of a Frog for his next bike–the Frog 73 8-Speed 26-Inch Kids’ Bike is “an 8-speed hybrid bike for 12 to 14 year olds” and it’s really light–on par with the Islabikes my kids have been spoiled by. At $600 it’s a serious investment, but light bikes are worth it and putting it through two kids sort of makes it feel half the price. BTW, here’s my reivew of Frog Bikes on BikePortland from a year ago. Fortunately (?) there are no Frog Bikes to be had anywhere so there’s the whole $600 saved. Once he grows another few inches he’ll fit on an old hybrid my neighbor gave us when they moved away (as well as on all my bikes!), but it’d be nice to find him a fendered bike before that.

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As for me, I’m still on my Surly Big Dummy. (The loaner Urban Arrow e-assist bakfiets went back in June.) Nowadays I always have my two-bike tow hitch attached just in case we run into trouble and I need to carry both kids and their bikes, though fortunately that hasn’t happened (not to mention we rarely leave the house so there’s not much trouble to run into). If you’ve noticed my bike is sporting mismatched tires that’s because while taking a close look at my front tire while fixing a blackberry sticker flat, I realized the old black tire was dunzo. In a normal year I would have bought a replacement Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but they’re probably not in stock anywhere…plus they’re $50 a pop. Lucky for me, while purchasing a couple small things at Crank’s going out of business sale a while back, Justin threw in two cream tires because no one wanted them. You also may have noticed I’m no longer running a front fender. That’s because I forgot to adequately weigh down the back of the bike while I was fixing that flat and it took a nose dive into the floor, tacoing the fender. It’s metal so it might bend back into shape, but I haven’t tried to do that yet. I’m also not sure it’ll fit around this massive 26 x 2.35 tire.

So there’s the punch line: three bikes with 26-inch tires, but with a total of four different sized tubes!

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In a pinch the wrong-sized tube can do the job–in fact, I started the white tire with a too-narrow tube from the mountain bike before the kid had grown into it, but I like to have the right sized tube in each tire.

4 thoughts on “What we’re riding these days

  1. I’m so jealous! I’m on a 29r, Astrid sports a 27.5, and Thorvald loves his full suspension 26 inch bike. We toured from Ellensburg this summer with three spare tires and lots of different tubes. I guess that’s the beauty of standards: There are so many to choose from. Also, cream tires really are the best tires.

  2. The tube on my bakfiets has been flat for awhile and I haven’t found the time when my husband is home to fix it. It’s just really hard to get the rear wheel on and off by oneself. However, we’ve been trying out a new system by which you use a ratchet strap to lift the bike up while you’re fiddling with the wheel. It’s a pretty good idea, but needs some refinement. Luckily, I’ve always been able to make it home when I get a flat. We put green goop in our tubes which helps a lot I think!

    My front fender-stay finally broke and it took all summer for my local bike shop to get the replacement stay. (I got the Kidical Mass sign stuck in my front wheel at the Swift Ride 2019 and it damaged the fender. It was fine for awhile, but then just broke clear off!)

    I really hope you’re able to bend your fender back together. I agree that the cream tires look great! It makes your pink bike look even more cheery.

    I’ve checked your blog a few times since lock-down times, with no updates. I’m glad to hear what you and your boys are up to! I love to see your thrifty solutions. It may not be ideal, but frugality always creates a great style of its own. Like free-pile furniture!

    • Hi Teri! Bummer about the flat :( One of the Clever Cycles mechanics told me about these neat Gaadi tubes they used to carry that are a long snake so you don’t have to take your wheel off! I wonder if there was some interest if they’d stock them again.

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