Kyle in Lake Assal, Djbouti

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catastrophic Bicycle Failure

Today, I had a major failure on my bike. The pedal is tearing away from the hub at the weld. It's a nasty break, and I can't fix it. It happened while riding to work this morning, with only 2 weeks left in Bahir Dar before I go on to Addis Ababa, and then Djibouti. The bad news - I don't have time to fix it. The good news - I have 2 bikes, and my shitty, Chinese-made, Ethiopia-bought 'Phoenix Fashion' is the one that broke! The Trek 820 for Low2High is still good to go.

Big crack where it's coming apart at the seem.
Both pedals going upward. The right pedal now spins free and leans outward.
A new bike of this model in Ethiopia costs roughly $100 USD. I asked a repair shop if it could be welded, and they said no. So, to replace the whole casing would be about $30 USD. I remember back to my puke-green '94 Ford Taurus I had in college. Her name was Zola. After 200,000 miles, the transmission died and I drove it everywhere in 2nd gear, all the time. It wasn't worth repairing, so I scrapped it. I feel that this bike will have a similar fate. I was going to sell it before I left, but the brakes are shit, the tires are shit, and now the pedals are shit. It's barely a bike anymore.

I can pilfer some parts from it. The pedals themselves, the tires, spokes, chain links, brake cables, and the seat are all interchangeable with my Trek. Also, the rain fenders might fit. I haven't tried to swap them yet, but some rain protection would be nice. I'll spend tomorrow stripping the Phoenix down to it's basic parts and seeing what I can use.

This is exactly why I've had 2 bikes. This cheap bike was my daily rider. It's less likely to be stolen, and it prevents wear on the Trek. Even though this bike is busted, and I now have to take taxis for the my 2 weeks, at least it wasn't the Trek that broke. That said, I got the Trek used from another Peace Corps volunteer who had ridden it around Africa for a while. I don't know how much abuse it has taken since I didn't get it new. All I can do is take caution on rough roads, and bring spares of as many parts as I can.


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