This Beater Bike Made Me a Higher Rider
I’ve liked all of my bikes, even those I hated. From the hand-me-down Columbia I snapped in half, to the too-French Motobecane Nomade I barely rode, to the 50-pound Spooky downhill bike stolen from Brooklyn Machine Works—I liked all of them. Over time I’ve owned and ridden dozens upon dozens of bikes, however none of them in comparison with the primary brand-new bike I purchased for myself: a Diamondback Apex, again in 1993.
My earliest biking function fashions weren’t cyclists in any respect. They have been stuntmen like Evel Knievel and the Dukes of Hazzard, and that pushed me towards BMX. My earliest bikes have been ridden in ways in which would horrify the producers. I sheared the top tube clear off the aforementioned Columbia studying wheelies in entrance of my mother and father’ home, then put a sequence of Schwinns—a metallic-blue Stingray I rescued from the trash and a chrome Predator I acquired for Christmas—by the wringer. I stored using bikes, actually, into the bottom.
However then I noticed my first mountain bike in the summertime of 1989. After my highschool commencement, I went with my household on a cross-country prepare journey from Lengthy Island to Seattle. In between mountain climbing the Arches in Moab and falling right into a lake in Glacier Nationwide Park, I noticed a tri-color Specialised Hardrock and fell in love. These fats, monster-truck tires in that rugged setting have been the perfect commercial for a motorcycle I’d ever seen. I ended at each bike store I might, gathering brochures. The mountain bike bug was spreading.
After I went off to varsity on the College of Delaware, I visited my native bike store in Newark, Wood Wheels, to ogle on the newest and biggest from quite a lot of manufacturers (apart from Trek, which was on the different store on the town). Delaware isn’t precisely Colorado, however there have been miles of pristine singletrack only a quick drive from the place I used to be residing. For me, a mountain bike appeared the proper cut up between a highway bike and a BMX bike. I might roll over issues I wouldn’t have been capable of on a BMX, attain speeds I’d solely imagined, and nonetheless go off-road on a motorcycle I might beat up with out concern.
When it got here time to purchase, I had my thoughts set on a metal hardtail. Suspension forks have been changing into commonplace within the ‘90s, however they have been prohibitively costly. I wished chromoly, and I wished the highest-level Shimano groupset I might afford. There was one possibility: an 18” glowing inexperienced Diamondback Apex. The Apex harkened again to my BMX days. It jogged my memory of the smoked chrome Turbo and Strike Zone freestyle I had lusted after within the 80s, and it was full-on trails-ready with a True Mood metal frameset and a full Shimano Deore LX group. It was about $800—greater than I spent on my first automobile—however that also left me with sufficient leftover cash to purchase some anodized bling, purple bottle cages, and matching bullhorn bar extenders.
I liked the Diamondback from the beginning, and it proved to be every part I wanted and extra on Delaware’s plentiful trails. I set it up for cross-country, seatpost excessive, and rode by all types of hassle on its trusty Panaracer Smokes. It even served double responsibility as a avenue bike when my BMX experience inevitably broke, though a single weekend of launching the Diamondback to flat rounded out the square-spindle LX cranks. Tip: Don’t do this.
The Diamondback represented a shift in how I checked out bikes. The Apex, not like my cobbled-together BMX bikes, was dialed out of the store and usually stayed that approach. My days of Frankensteining a motorcycle collectively from no matter was useful, or no matter I might scrounge, have been over—plus, I wished to spend extra time using than wrenching. I purchased a set of purple titanium Salsa skewers and an identical Salsa QR seat collar as “upgrades,” however other than that, I by no means actually modified a lot. It was a tough bike to enhance.
Whenever you experience the appropriate bike, the bike itself disappears. It turns into the catalyst by which you expertise the world. So when you do all the appropriate analysis and take all the appropriate take a look at rides and have all the appropriate intentions when shopping for a motorcycle, you’ll overlook in regards to the bike precisely if you’re having fun with it most. Perhaps that’s why I nonetheless have the Apex, 20-odd years and numerous bikes later. There are chips within the paint, chainsuck scars on the stays and a new-ish 100mm journey Rock Shox Judy, however a lot of it’s nonetheless unique: Deore LX derailleurs, LX/Araya combo wheels, Wheelsmith butted spokes.
The final time I actually rode the Diamondback was in all probability 10 years in the past. I had a Waterford then, however a careless driver had wiped me out on a highway experience and snapped its carbon bars. Later that week, as I waited for an insurance coverage settlement, I dusted off the Apex and left the highway for a muddy path I’d by no means ridden earlier than, clipped into Shimano SPD platforms. There was a tough flip onto a wood platform adjoining to a pond, and I slowed an excessive amount of and fell over into the boggy marshland. I lay there for a minute, gathering my ideas and listening to the visitors within the distance. Then I picked the bike up, rode dwelling, and put the Diamondback away. I don’t know once I’ll experience it subsequent, however it will likely be prepared if I ever do. It all the time has been.