It was with great sadness today that I bade farewell to an old buddy, my Diamondback Ascent mountain bike that’d I’d had since 1992.
Recently, prompted not least by hitting my 35th birthday with waistline expansion showing no signs of slowing down, I’d dug the old ride out of storage and had built myself up to doing 20+ miles on the hilly roads around home. But when pedaling, I had noticed some grinding sounds that I figured were just the bottom bracket bearings giving up. “New drivetrain”, I sighed, thinking the years spent sitting in a damp garage had done for the components. But I was oh-so wrong.
I took the Diamondback to a local bike shop to check out the drivetrain and get new parts fitted, but their eagle-eyed mechanic spotted the (with hindsight) very obvious source of the grinding noises: the seat tube had corroded all the way through and snapped! It seems the 16 years of being left in the rain outside university and work, bounced down mountains through streams and thick mud and being washed in rivers had taken a toll on the steel frame and it had finally given way.
“No point. You need new bike. You look upstairs.”, the mechanic advised in his east-european accent, before walking off. A man of few words it seems, but all of them wise. It was indeed game over for the Diamondback.
On examination, it looked like the rest of the frame was as badly corroded inside as the seat tube. It seemed it had been held together until now by just paint and electrical tape. Blind luck made the seat tube crack first and not some other part that could have ended more … painfully. So there was nothing that could be done for the old frame but take it to the metal recyclers.
It still felt like I was leading Old Yeller round behind the barn, shotgun and shovel in hand. There there, old fella, the pain will be over soon.
I took the mechanic’s advice though and picked up a new mountain bike with a view to converting it to a hybrid/commuter machine. I managed, almost by accident, to pick up a Commencal Normal Disc 2008 for fully half price in a clearance sale in a shop I’d originally no intention of going in to, an hour before it shut on the last day of the sale.
The Commencal is a fine bike: 6061 T6 Al frame, SRAM X-5 transmission, front suspension and Avid BB5 disc brakes. Entry level perhaps, but a bargain for what I paid for it and more than adequate for the work commute and some light off-roading.
It feels fast. It’s comfortable. The transmission works. The headset doesn’t work loose and wobble. It stops in the wet. The paint job is in, at best, questionable taste.
But I’ll still miss the old Diamondback. 1992-2008, RIP.