I’m back on the road! Almost.
The old, clunky, folding, Chinese, electric bicycle that was pulled out of storage here at the Hangout Beach Resort in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines, looks like it may suffice as transport and exercise and a way to fetch food and supplies if needed.
Last week, while on our trip to the town market area, I decided I would seriously try to salvage the rusty thing. I wasn’t sure it was possible after previously examining it.
The main problem: the electric drive (now dead) seemed to be permanently engaged. Turning the pedals was extremely difficult, and the rear wheel and pedals always turned together. There was no way to stop pedaling or coast. Weird.
On the market trip, I did look for and inquire about bikes for sale. But all that was available we brand new models starting around 6,000 Pesos ($120). That price isn’t too bad, but I was hoping I might luck out and find a decent used one for $30 or $40 max. There are no rentals here on the mainland – only out on touristy Boracay Island.
As I’ve reported before, I have enjoyed the freedom and utility of a bike at many of our various month-long rental stays around the world. But I only use it for a short time and when we leave a place, I give the bike away, so I’d rather not keep buying new bikes.
The salvage job
Anyway, failing to find a cheap second-hand ride in town, I went to a few hardware stores and motorcycle repair places until I found a can of WD-40.
Each day since then, I’ve been heavily spraying every bit of the rusty and malfunctioning pedals, chain, drive, wheels, gears, etc.
Yesterday, I started using some force to try to free things up too. There was some improvement. The rear wheel turned a little without the sprocket, chain, and pedals moving. More WD-40 was applied. More force, too.
Today, it was much better. Almost approaching normal. The rear wheel would turn/coast without making the pedals go around. There still seemed to be some ‘drag’ from the useless electric mechanism, but minor. I kept moving and turning the parts and spraying more penetrating lubricant.
The other issue: two flat tires. Were they punctured? Needing repair? The folks at our resort said the bike had been sitting unused for two to three years. A pump was borrowed from a neighbor and both crusty tires carefully inflated. Success. No obvious leaks.
I gingerly peddled up and down our little beach road for a while… testing and checking. The ‘drag’ seemed to lessen more. I got the seat raised. The hand brakes worked. The tires held up.
I decided not to mess with the gears. It’s a six speed, but the gear change handle felt stuck. No problem. The gear it was in was just right.
After a while, Ellie came out to take a few photos and took a ride herself up and down our street. She had no problem riding even in a dress! And announced she would like to use it more, too. Fantastic! A free, salvaged, wife-approved bicycle.
The victory ride
After that, off I went. With my quarantine face mask, which is required, I went out onto the main road. I took it easy for five or ten minutes, then gradually went faster and farther.
In the end I probably went three or four miles total – into Malay town, along the waterfront, around the square, through a residential section, then all the way back home. 45 minutes. No issues. On May 15, the general quarantine will expire and I’ll be ready for more rides.
With sunset approaching – and garden watering to do – I put the bike away in the garage area. But first, I sprayed all the parts again with more WD-40.
Tomorrow will be the moment of truth. Will the tires still be firm with air? We shall see. Fortunately, motorcycle tire repair shops are everywhere here. And tube repair, if needed, only costs a buck or two.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails, & more beer!
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Pandemic bicycle for freedom, utility.”
See our COVID-19 section for more pandemic stories.
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