03 January 2012

The Second- Best Bike I Ever Lost

Vera is once again up and running.  She got me to work today.  I definitely count my blessings that I lost only a seat and post, not the whole bike. 

I am making a couple of other modifications to her and, when they're done, I'll show her in her new glory.

Speaking of theft:  Yes, I have had bicycles stolen.  Four, in fact.  Two were "beaters" and I actually got one of them back after the owner of one of the shops in which I worked spotted it when he was riding home. However, another bike that was stolen from me was a high-quality, nearly new,  road bike:  a 1994 Bridgestone RB-2.

I bought it as a "leftover" at a substantial discount the following year.  Most Bridgestones--at least the higher-end models--sold out in most years; I considered myself lucky to get one that was more or less the right size for me.  I didn't "need" another bike, as I had high-quality road and mountain bikes, but I got a deal that was simply too good to pass up. 

It came in a blue-green (I thought it was more blue) metallic finish that I liked, although I would have liked the plum metallic, the other color choice offered that year, even better.  However, for the price I paid, I wasn't about to be picky.

I put a pair of Michelin 700 X28C cyclo-cross tires and rack on it with the intention of making the bike my commuter and winter road ride.  That plan worked for about three months, if I remember correctly.  At the time, I was teaching at the New York City Technical College (now the New York City College of Technology).  The good news was that it was less than five minutes, by bike, from the Park Slope apartment in which I was living.  However, the bad news was that it was in what was still a high-crime area of downtown Brooklyn.

The college consisted of a couple of fairly grimy concrete and steel buildings that sucked up all of the soot from nearby factories and the cars and trucks entering the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.  Bicycles weren't allowed inside any of the buildings.  But nearly every day, I bought coffee and something to eat from a truck that stood just outside the main entrance.  The owner told me to park my bike at the parking meter nearest his truck, plainly within his sight. I did that for a couple of months.

Well, one day, he was sick and someone else--a nephew, I think--manned the truck.  And, after teaching eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds where to put commas in their sentences, I walked over to the truck, only to find my bike gone.

The young man in the truck claimed to see nothing.

I'd been using the best lock Kryptonite made at the time.  They paid the full retail cost of the bike, minus the deductible.    After another paycheck or two, I could have bought another RB-2, even at the regular price.  The only problem was that they weren't available any more.  It was made in Japan and the dollar lost a lot of value against the yen, making the bike, and others built in Japan, much more expensive in the US than they had been. So Bridgestone and other Japanese bike makers (like Miyata and Panasonic) simply stopped exporting to the US.  (Other Japanese makers, like Fuji, outsourced their manufacturing to Taiwan and China.)

Because I already had a high-end road bike, a nice track bike and a pretty good mountain bike, I simply used the latter bike for commutes and saved up for a nicer mountain bike, as I was becoming a fairly serious off-road rider.  But I missed the RB-2:  It was a sweet ride and the time I had it marked the first time in my life I had more than one good road bike.


  1. Memory lane. I've been fortunate enough to lose only one bike by theft. Looking back, it was even more fortunate that it was an "AMF Roadmaster."

  2. This is a great eulogy. So sorry to hear about that beautiful bike lost. Urban street taxes are can be so tough. In these instances, I try to be noble and remember that someone must have needed the stolen item's value more, but most of the time, I'm just not that evolved.

  3. Bridgestone - one of the most underrated names in the history of cycling...

  4. Cherilyn--Sometimes I think I'd like to be so evolved, too. But I still don't like having bikes (or much of anything else) stolen from me. However, I am happy to have ridden that bike, however briefly.

    Thanks to you and Steve for your condolences.

    Steve--You're right about Bridgestone. I think that just when they were becoming more than a "cult" bike, the dollar plummeted against the yen and priced Bridgestone out of the US market. Also, I think it was around that time that Grant Petersen left them. Bridgestone developed the following it has enjoyed largely based on bikes he designed--among them the RB-2, RB-1 and XO.