Someone asked me a few days ago: “Which bike do you ride the most then?” I had to think about this for a while, but here it is. It may not be the bike I’d rush to rescue if there was a fire but my old Kuwahara Shasta is the first MTB I ever bought, over two decades ago. It’s still going strong, I still love it and I think it may have covered more miles than even my 15 year old ‘big tours’ road bike.
As a rule, I tend to ride bikes a couple of times a day. At least one of those rides is usually an off road test ride of a new bike, but there are days when both rides will be simple ‘getting to somewhere’ rides. That’s where the Kuwahara workhorse comes in. It’s a hefty, upright, laid back beast of a bike that only feels slightly different in terms of handling when I’m hauling firewood in a BOB trailer. I just pedal it and steer.
It would be worth almost nothing to a thief so it constantly gets left U-locked around town and at the station… although someone did cut all the cables to nick the original bullmoose stem, 29in wide handlebar and Suntour friction shifters. Still, that gave me the excuse I might have been waiting for to fit a psychedelic high rise ‘racing stem’ with a cable roller, a bombproof Pace Racing Renthal handlebar and the first ever Suntour indexed combi-shifters.
Actually, all that’s left of the original bike, which was a state of the art trail bike when I bought it, is the frame and the seatpost. The original rims exploded, years apart, in spectacular fashion on gnarly lakeland descents when the brake blocks wore through them… I remember that clearly as the resulting crashes were among the most spectacular I’ve ever had. I’ve ripped off a few gear mechs in the undergrowth and worn out a few chainrings, although the Biopace middle and outer rings have been on there for about 15 years now, as have the second generation Shimano cantilever brakes.
While it might not be the bike I’d rescue in a fire, it would probably be the one I’d miss most. But it would probably survive a fire anyway.