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 had been stuntmen like Evel Knievel and the Dukes of Hazzard, and that pushed me towards BMX. My earliest bikes had been ridden in ways in which would horrify the producers. I sheared the headtube 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 obtained for Christmas—via the ringer. 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 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 had been the very best commercial for a motorbike I’d ever seen. I finished at each bike store I might, amassing brochures. The mountain bike bug was spreading.
After I went off to school on the College of Delaware, I visited my native bike store in Newark, Picket Wheels, to ogle on the newest and biggest from a wide range of manufacturers (aside 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 dwelling. 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 motorbike I might beat up with out worry.
When it got here time to purchase, I had my thoughts set on a metal hardtail. Suspension forks had been changing into commonplace within the ‘90s, however they had been prohibitively costly. I needed chromoly, and I needed the highest-level Shimano groupset I might afford. There was one choice: 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 thing I wanted and extra on Delaware’s plentiful trails. I set it up for cross-country, seatpost excessive, and rode via all types of bother on its trusty Panaracer Smokes. It even served double responsibility as a road bike when my BMX journey 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, in contrast to my cobbled-together BMX bikes, was dialed out of the store and usually stayed that means. My days of Frankensteining a motorbike collectively from no matter was useful, or no matter I might scrounge, had been over—plus, I needed 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.
If you journey the precise bike, the bike itself disappears. It turns into the catalyst via which you expertise the world. So when you do all the precise analysis and take all the precise take a look at rides and have all the precise intentions when shopping for a motorbike, you’ll overlook concerning the bike precisely once 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 journey 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 site visitors within the distance. Then I picked the bike up, rode residence, and put the Diamondback away. I don’t know after I’ll journey it subsequent, however it is going to be prepared if I ever do. It at all times has been.