I have a 1980’s Kuwahara Original Aries mountain bike that I recently retrofitted as a city commuter.
Over the years, I have put many kilometers on this bike – exploring the local lanes with my children when they were young, frequent trail rides in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, the more challenging off-road trails in Squamish & Whistler and commuting downtown and back. Over its 25 year history, it has been retrofitted several times. First, as a more agressive trail bike and then, several commuting renditions. The most recent retrofit is the most complete and satisfying. It includes both new and favorite seasoned parts. The new parts were all purchased from MEC – Shimano Alivio bottom bracket, Alivio front derraileur, Alivio cranks, MEC handlebars and stem, cables & housing. The seasoned parts are not original to the bike, rather favorite components I had on this or other bikes over the years – saddle, seat post, Alivio rear derraileur, brake levers, shifters, Shimano SPD pedals, “City Slicker” tires, removable fenders and a saddle bag.
This was not an expensive retrofit. A $100 at most. But the bike rides like new – tight, smooth and quiet. The frame is “hand built” and despite numerous scratches (what do you expect after 25 years), is in excellent shape. There are still a few small items to complete. I want to replace the quick release on the seat post to deter thieves from easily snagging my post & saddle. Also, I have a lower rider front pannier rack I plan to add for short day trips. Otherwise, this retrofit is done.
This is a utility bike. It is used for commuting, errands, exloring the city & beaches and trips to the gym. It is a great fit and, although it is not nearly as fast and light as the Garneau, I train on it occasionally.
I like the classic steel frames and encourage riders to retrofit their older bikes rather than buy new ones. My Kuwahara will outlive me. I suspect my son will turn it into a “fixie” when I am done.
Do you have a retrofit project sitting in your garage collecting dust?
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I don’t have a retrofit, but I do ride several vintage MTBs, some rigid, some with suspension as my main rides:
I may get something more modern at some point, but for now I find vintage bikes to be too much fun, and so inexpensive I can have several on the go without too much grief from my wife…