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First (bike geek) Love

15 years ago, I was a 13-year-old (almost 14-year-old) kid who’d been saving up birthday money, babysitting money, and any other cash that came my way because I wanted a new bicycle, by golly. I’d been alternating between riding an outgrown stingray-knockoff (20-inch wheels) and an oversized Schwinn Continental, neither of which was a satisfactory riding situation. With the little chubby stingray bike, I had to avoid tangling my knees up in the handlebars or scootching my butt off the back of the banana seat, and the gearing on it wasn’t good for anything but super-short runs up and down the service road between our house and the neighbors’ south pasture. The old Continental was just plain huge. I rode it with the seat slammed down to the top-tube, pedalling with the very tips of my toes. I’d frequently climb aboard with the aid of a planter in front of the house, and perforce executed a rolling dismount at the end of every ride. I was a girl on a mission–to get a bike that fit and would be a practical daily driver.

After my 8th-grade graduation, an occasion rife with ten and twenty dollar bills in cards sent by generous relatives, my bike savings fund crested $100, and it seemed the time had come to go shopping! I knew what I wanted: a sturdy 10-speed that would be equally at home on the county roads as in the pastures. What I got was the K-mart answer to a basic mountain bike, 1991-style. $109 bought me a Huffy “White River” “Precision Ten Speed,” a modest vehicle boasting friction shifters, side-pull brakes, foam hand-grips, and hot-pink cable housings.

By today’s standards (and probably by the standards of the day) it wasn’t any great shakes of a bike, but it was serviceable, and I got a good 7 years of use out of it before I shelved it in favor of my Trek which I still ride regularly another 8 years later.

Bike afficianadoes will shudder at the crimped-in dropouts and the blinged-up decals proclaiming the presence of “high strength steel” and “Precision Te Speed.” I just love how this bike has no cable guides, just heavy-duty black zipties. Klassy with a Capital “K.”

I spent a little time yesterday, shooting the breeze with my parents and tearing the bike apart to the extent that I could clean and re-pack all of the bearings and replace crankset with another from a similar bike which I had disemboweled in the basement. If you’ll look at the following pictures, you will see why I swapped out the crank. The big ring is missing some serious teeth. It’s like a hillbilly family reunion. The crank I pulled off the other Huffy is a triple, and this derailleur doesn’t seem to have enough throw to handle the three gears, but I can take the granny gear off…it’s not riveted on, like the other two are.

Edited to add (I later learned that those notches were actually there intentionally, and were meant to help the bike shift more smoothly and quickly. I kept that original crank and chainring set after learning this)

7 Responses to “First (bike geek) Love”

  1. […] working really hard to be all “in-period” with this thing. I’ll also be riding my 1991 Huffy White River, the bicycle I bought with my own money (mostly earnedy by babysitting jobs) the summer before I […]

  2. Jayne Hodges says:

    I have had my White River Huffy 10 speed, white with pink accessories since I got it new in 1988??? Hardly used. Do you know what it might be worth in 2011? I wish I had a place to keep it but I am moving and have no storage.

  3. Meetzorp says:

    Sadly, it is worth…pretty much nothing. Those bikes were pretty rotten. Mine I have since disassembled and turned into a ski-bike.

    Realistically – maybe you could squeeze $20 out of it at a yard sale.

  4. jayyouelleyeeh says:

    Just found this same bike in my mother’s garage, going to clean it up for the occasional ride, it seems serviceable and I’d rather not invest hundreds into a new bike when I can use this. Plus, the perks of thoroughly embarrassing my sons and husband while on this gem are priceless.

  5. Meetzorp says:

    Well, so long as you aren’t planning any really epic athletic endeavors, it ought to be all right for just a little goofing around.

    I found that anything over maybe 2-3 miles on this bike turned into a real chore!

  6. Brock says:

    I bought Huffy White River earlier this year off of Craigslist for $10 bucks. Almost ‘White Trash’! Swapping out pedals fixed a squeak that the previous owner warned me about. I really like the 20″ frame, since I’m 6’3″. I didn’t like having only ten speeds, so I took the crank off of a 15-speed fluorescent orange Huffy Fire Mountain that the previous owner augured into a creek bed, bending the head-tube backwards from vertical. For that era, did Huffy have the best bike model names or what? 🙂 I just tried the front derailleur from the White Mountain with the three cog chain ring and it won’t throw far enough. Arrgh. I’ve installed upright handlebars and a better seat so far.

  7. Meetzorp says:

    “White Trash!” Love it! You hit the nail on the head right there. 🙂

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