Why tinker?

20140114-070642.jpgOften people mistake shitbike’s appearance as a lack of knowledge on how to do things properly rather than the simple exploration into how things just work. Other cyclists will look on with bewilderment as I roll by rocking frankensteined brakes, an ugly handmade stem and a dangerously rigged single speed, they make wide eyes as I pass them going up hill on a fire road with a basket full of snacks and cameras, and they never seem to be totally confident in it’s presence on single track but I argue despite their worrisome expressions, that shitbike serves not as a study of how things should work, but of how they do work.
Sure I know wheels are made for a specific condition and shouldn’t really be given freedom to expand out of those bounds, but throwing a pair of shitty alloy road wheels on a bike and thrashing them around for months taught me more than any bike mechanic’s opinion was ever going to. I know cassettes have a purpose, and that purpose is not to be dismembered and rebuilt in pieces, in fact it’s intentionally designed to preform any task but the one I ask of it (be a functional single speed), but I have learned more about the design and functionality of a rear hub, freewheel and cassette than I ever could have by taking my bike to the shop to be done the “right way”. Each problem or idea that comes along shitbike’s path is approached with a thoughtful mind ready for a challenge. I don’t buy brand new hardware, that’s too easy. I dig around in my pile of scrap looking for a sliver of metal that will fit just right, that extra chainring I could use as a spacer, the one piece of bike guts that will solve my problem. I could sit in front of my computer and listen to a guy ramble on about the “right way”, really show me how to operate on a bike, but I’d rather get my hands dirty solving my own problem with the what I’ve got.
None of this is to say I wouldn’t do it the right way if I had the choice. Give anyone a million dollars and they will have a clean looking cycling machine. As for now I choose to learn from doing things the “wrong way”. Each problem revealing a bit more about the secret function of the bike, each fix showing just how complicated a bike component really is and all of shitbike showing just how crazy it is that a bike actually works. 20140114-070751.jpg


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