Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

28 June 2019

Sold--By Mistake

A onetime cycling buddy, Lewis, had his bike sold out from under him.  He didn't realize what had happened until several years later.

It's not that he was stupid or gave up riding.  He'd joined the Navy and was sent to far-flung locales.  He was in one of those places when his term of enlistment was about to end, and he signed up for another.  Four years later, he re-upped again.

All told, Lewis stayed in the Navy long enough to retire from it.  He said that, in a way, he couldn't really blame his family for selling his Frejus track bike--all-chrome, with blue decals that looked like stained-glass windows--because they really didn't know when he'd be back.  Even though he found other rides, and would eventually have a custom frame built for him, he missed that Frejus.  "It was the first really nice bike I had," he recalled.

The only thing that really upset him, he said, was that his parents sold the bike for $25.  Even in those days, that was a bargain price for a high-end bike that was in good shape.  "They didn't know any better," he explained.  "To them, a bike was a bike, and they were happy to get that much money for a used bike."

I hadn't thought about Lewis in a long time, until I heard about Allan Steinmetz of Newton, Massachusetts. Like Lewis' parents,  he sold a bike that had great meaning to another member of his family.  The bike, a Motobecane Grand Touring from the 1969-early 1973 era.  I say that from my knowledge of Motobecanes and looking at catalogue scans of that era.  Also, Steinmetz says it was new his father-in-law gave it to his wife "more than 45 years ago," when she was 16.  

He didn't say how much he got for the bike. But whatever it was, I'm sure it won't make his wife happy.  Her father was a Holocaust survivor and "made it a priority to give his family the very best."  Now, most of us wouldn't say the bike was "the very best," but it certainly was a very good touring bike for its time.  The frame was made from 1020, a carbon steel used in French bikes that weren't built from name-brand tubing like Vitus, Reynolds or Columbus.  That long-cage Huret Allvit rear derailleur is certainly a time capsule, as are the Huret levers that could be used to paddle canoes in a pinch. 

If I saw the bike in a garage sale, three things about it would tempt me:  the frame's long touring geometry, the Ideale 80 saddle and, best of all, the Stronglight 49D cranks.

Anyway, Steinmetz is pleading with the bike's buyer to return it.  "I can't win," he lamented.  "The only thing I can win is by getting this bike back."  His wife wanted to "give the bike to our granddaughter one day, which I didn't know," he said.

In a way, I could understand how and why Lewis' parents sold his bike.  But I wonder how Steinmetz could have "accidentally" sold a bike which, he surely knew, had so much meaning for his wife, whether or not she actually rode it.


  1. I hope he finds his wife's bicycle, and she can forgive him. I will give him credit for trying to correct his mistake, which is honorable.

  2. Virgil--I agree with everything you say. I like the guy for trying to fix his mistake, but I could also understand if his wife is angry!