Jerry's $1, Marin Bear Valley SE mountain bike
The local PD had a bike auction this morning (12/10/2005) and even though my wife and I have six bikes between us, I thought I'd just go down and "look" at what was on the block. Most of the stuff was discount store junk or kid's toys. One bike did interest me. It was a mountain bike, hard tail with a standard, non sprung fork. At first glance it didn't seem like much because it was decked out in big city camo, lots of tape swathed around everything, forks, top tube, down tube, cranks, seat post, handlebars, stem and any place else where it could be wrapped around the bike. The red, blue and black tape had been roughed up to give the tubes the appearance of an uneven finish. All the brand and model names were masked. What couldn't be covered was the set of Mavic M400 wheels, the Shimano STX RC crank and derailleurs and the heavy duty DiaComp cantilevers. The bike's seat, a cheap Serfas lycra, was torn in places along the bottom edge.
I picked it up... hmmm, very light, maybe 25 pounds. Spun the wheels... dead on true. The front brake cable was disconnected and the rear derailleur cable had worn through the casing. The tires still held air. The stand over height was perfect for my leg length. Ok, I was interested. I decided to stick around. The auction went on for an hour. The RoadMaster and NEXT discount store bikes, if in good to perfect condition, were going from $20-35 each. Single speed cruisers that sold for $99 new were going for $50. Finally, after an hour and fifteen minutes, the bike was rolled in front of the auctioneer. I raised my card. "One dollar... Going once, twice, sold for a dollar." I thought to myself, "Oh shit, now I have another bike. What am I going to tell my wife when she gets home?"
I rode the bike the four blocks home, single speed with only the rear brake. I started peeling tape. The first pieces I pulled off were the top tube strips, "Bear Valley SE." Is that a brand or a model name? The head tube had three layers of decals and tape stuck over it. After five long minutes of determined stripping I saw the manufacturer's badge. Marin Bicycle Company. Wow, a quality company... now I was excited. I spent the next two hours peeling and cleaning tape adhesive and then replaced the shift cable housing and re-attached the front brake. The bike, freed of its aged plastic armor, was in excellent condition, its finish still factory fresh. It had a seven speed cassette so I guessed that it was made somewhere in the late 90's. A quick check on the internet revealed that the bike's MSRP was $832 but it sold for about $700 to $750 in most bike shops. It had an excellent pedigree and rated 4.35 out of 5 in mountain bike reviews.
A little more cleaning and a new rear rack and seat and it will be expedition ready. In the mean time, I think I'll put about 20 miles on it tomorrow!
The only thing I was still dreading was explaining to my wife why we now had SEVEN bicycles.