KETTLER KIDS BIKES. KETTLER KIDS
Kettler kids bikes. Black gt bike
Kettler Kids Bikes
1987 Cannondale Frankenbike kid and grocery hauler
The bike I'd love to forsake, but can't.
For those of you who have been following my bike collection, you've probably noticed that this bike is something of a departure from my usual Classic & Vintage fare. This is my $20 estate auction find from about seven years ago, a 1987 Cannondale SM400 mountain bike, pretty low in their lineup, but still a formidable mountain bike in its day from one of the pioneers of The Mountain Bike. This was the bike that got me back into cycling after years of living without the thought of a bicycle. Amazingly, despite my rapidly expanding collection of much nicer bikes (see sets), I still have it! Why? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, this bike actually does so many things really well since it's been converted into an urban cargo and kid hauler by the addition of smooth-rolling city tires (mismatched), fenders, Wald basket, child seat and Northroad-style handlebars. I outline what keeps me riding this bike:
Hill climbing. I live on the top of a steep hill, and the wide mtn bike gearing lets me pull this 43 lb load of a week's worth of groceries (yes, I weighed it) up the hill without breaking a sweat. Ditto for carrying my daughter (also 43 lb) up said hill. And it allows me to go reasonably fast, as well.
Braking. Nevermind that the brakes, like the tires, are mismatched (cobbled together from a bike swap box lot-- the originals were not compatible with the child seat). Between the cantilever brakes, aluminum rims and KoolStop salmon pads, the brakes are hands down the best brakes of any bike in my collection, in any weather. This is especially important when I ride my 43lb daughter down my hill.
Theft deterrence. This ugly chimera has a built-in theft deterrent: its looks. Theives run away from this bike when they see it, their eyes bleeding, vowing never to look at another bike again. So, I don't have to lock it. Honest. Even in Harvard Square, I just leave it unlocked. Do you know just how much of a convenience that is? No fumbling for keys, no searching for an available post to shackle the bike to.
Carefree owner experience. See that rusty chain? That was a new chain not one year ago. But since this bike is the odd man out for dry storage and gets left out in all seasons, that's what happens. But being the runt of the litter also means I don't have to obsess over things like cleaning the chain (or any part of the bike, for that matter)! Every once in a while, when something really needs replacing, I do it, but I don't sweat the details like I do with my other bikes (last repair was a necessary one: a new bottom bracket, $22).
Positive attitudes from drivers. The child seat is an effective safety device, as much for the cyclist as for the child. When drivers see a bike with a child seat--with or without a child in it--their response changes from one of opposition and contempt to one of accommodation and courtesy. Drivers give me a wide berth when they pass. Drivers behind me are more patient and don't tail as closely. Drivers at intersections wave me on. I'm treated like royalty.
Durability and reasonable weight. The oversized aluminum frame and fat 26x1.75" tires can take a heavy load and never feel strained. The frame doesn't flex and there are no creaks or rattles. And, the bike always feels stable and responsive, and even comfortable, with the modified upright seating position. And being aluminum, the bike is not too heavy. With basket, fenders, child seat, bell and lights, it tips the scale at 40 lb. That's less than my English and Dutch roadsters, and neither of them have nearly the cargo carrying versatility of this bike. Without the child seat (it's removable via a quick-release clamp), the bike weighs about 30 lb-- certainly no lightweight, but respectably trim for what it is. For me, weight is actually pretty important, as I have to lug my bike up 17 steps each night.
Time and time again, I think to myself how nice it would be to ditch this bike in favor of something purpose-built with industrial design elegance, like a long-tail Kona Ute or Surly Big Dummy, or an ANT basket bike. But these would set me back $1000 on the low end, and up to $4000 on the high end. And then, if I had one of those bikes, I'd feel compelled to baby it, not leave it outside, and keep it locked. Not to mention they'd all weigh more than this bike. I'd be paranoid about its well-being and it would add extra concern on my part. I don't want that. I need something reasonably comfortable and versatile that i can hop on and never worry about getting stolen, scratched, or damaged. This bike fits those needs perfectly.
The harsh sunlight was a real problem here. A partial rescue with Aperture.
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