Three Online Bike Forums
Once I realized biking was going to be my new obsession I was faced with the harsh reality that I knew very little about working on bikes and even less about old ones. True I had owned a mountain bike or two as an adult but other than change a tire or saddle I was lacking in the “mad skillz” department. So I did what anyone else would do, I turned to the internet.
Sheldon Brown is the rock star of bicycle technical work and his site is ground zero for how-to articles. Park Tools also has an extensive “how-to” section on their website. While those sites are helpful I’m not exactly Mr Goodwrench and sometimes I need people I can pose questions to so I found myself frequenting the most dangerous places on the internet – online forums.
Forums are often a magnet for trolls, trouble makers, and assorted riff-raff. Fortunately I found a few moderated, well managed sites that offer exceptional information and are populated by genuinely good and helpful people.
The mother of all bike forums has to be Bikeforums.net. They have in excess of 30 sub forums on topics like commuting, single speed, you name it. Each sub forum seems to have it’s own personality and I found a home in the Classic and Vintage forum there. Typically I lean on them for just about all my old bike questions. From what the bike might be worth, to what part do I buy to what product will make it look nice they have answers and best of all they’re a great group of men and women who share a passion for getting vintage bikes on the road again.
One afternoon I was looking at bikes on Craigslist and saw this very tricked out and elegant, no-name mountain bike. It was modern but looked very classic with a Brooks saddle, upright bars, quill stem and fresh paint job (rattle can). I didn’t have an interest in buying it but I was inspired to write the owner and tell him how cool I thought his bike was, wish him a speedy sale and encourage him to post more pictures of his work. He thanked me for my note and turned me on the to the Rat Rod Bikes forum. The phrase holy cow comes to mind. I was astonished by what you can do with an ordinary bike, I mean these guys take a Huffy or a and Murray and make them into show bikes fit for a parade. And there is quite a bit of frame building going on.
And not all their bikes are low end of course, you’ll see examples of very high end bikes there too but these guys can make anything look very cool and desirable. Definitely a forum for the custom bike maker in you. Be sure to check out their gallery.
Lastly, it was Mike who turned me on to the Schwinn forums. If you own a vintage Schwinn or are considering buying one these are the folks to talk to. Bring a model and serial number with you and they will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about it, and then some. You’ll find tips on making those rusted fenders look new again and the mystery of what brake pads you should use to replace the old ones will be solved for you. If you have a Schwinn and a question they’ll have an answer for you.
Update – I cannot believe I failed to mention the Texas sub-forum at Bikeforums.net. Oops. Network with fellow Texas cyclists here.