My favorite bicycle’s frame was built by Matt Assenmacher, late in the summer of 1975. (For those of you who know Matt, he still was based in Mount Pleasant.) Getting the frame on the road required money, which eventually arrived in the form of a Michigan Vietnam Veterans Bonus. I spent a post-Christmas afternoon at Alfred E. Bike, where Doug Stevenson and I sorted through his parts stock and began to determine the bike’s personality. Budget issues forced me to skimp on the wheels during the initial setup, and I rode the bike long enough (85,000 miles or thereabouts) that most of the parts got replaced at least once.

Which turns out to be a restoration issue. This bike’s in the shop. Restored? What does “restored” mean for a custom bike whose components changed pretty much at the owner’s whim? Obviously I’m not returning it to original trim.

Well, that’s a little problematical. I’ve decided to restore the bike to approximately 1982 tune, with perhaps a little leeway for circumstance and preference. When I get it back, this will be the setup:

  • Assenmacher frame (currently wearing its second paint job; I may return the frame to the original scheme this winter).
  • Stronglight 99 crankset (50/42)–basically the original crankset.
  • Phil Wood bottom bracket (dates from 1978).
  • Phil Wood pedals (this particular set was originally my sister’s, and is quite worn).
  • SunTour Cyclone derailleurs (the rear’s a jewel, off eBay).
  • Universal 61 brakes (another eBay purchase).
  • Campy Record headset (the bike’s original).
  • Cinelli handlebars, Sunshine ProAm gooseneck (old–there’s a story here; mebbe some day).
  • Unicanitor saddle (newly purchased) and SR seatpost (quite old, but not the bike’s original).
  • Phil hubs (brand new), Weinmann A-124 rims (used; finicky things, but I like ’em).
  • Winner freewheel [13-26], Sedisport chain (both are what they call NOS [New Old Stock]–in this case, the stock is mine).
  • Blackburn rack (the original, and one of the very first Jim built–long before he was an established manufacturer. It’s quite beat up, but it belongs on this bike.)

That’s a bike with a personality; you’ll not see another with a component mix quite like it. I like to think it reveals a cyclist who had a fairly tight budget but liked quality. When the bike was new it got really interesting responses. Should be fun to show it off to knowledgeable cyclists nowadays.

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