Amazing what a little paint can do

It’s been over two years since I bought a $140 Chinese-made bike (now $159; here’s what it looked like before losing front and tail lights, derailleur and gears). It was falling apart before we got it home; went from 18 speeds to one (we live on the beach; no problem). Its primary redeeming feature has been no incentive to lock it up. With rusty 28″ wheels, it was uncomfortably big for most people here, and hardly looked worth stealing. In fact I wouldn’t have really cared if someone did take it.

The other day a valve stem broke. In pursuit of a new inner tube, I asked the bike guy about getting aluminum replacement wheels for the ugly rusty ones. The problem – this is a bike thing, not a Uruguay thing – is that 28″ aluminum wheels are not the same size as 28″ steel wheels, so I would need to replace tires and another tube as well, which just seemed wasteful.

But here is a Uruguay thing – take the rims, minus axles but with spokes – and send them to Montevideo to be sandblasted, painted, and oven-baked. At the same time, swap the kickstand for a safer rear-wheel model. And of course replace the inner tube.

For $40, I have a bike that looks worth stealing again.

(Now where’s my cable lock?)

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