Our Beloved Junk

Yesterday my bike stayed at work due to an unforeseen series of events (a.k.a. poor planning on my part).

I got a ride home from my wife. And this morning–again to my utter astonishment–my main commuting bike had not found its way home on its own.

I considered my options. I passed over my trusty Diamondback, which still has studded snow tired from the winter, and chose instead to ride my wife’s bike.

I’ve given this bike so little consideration over the years that until I started writing this post, I always thought it was made by Specialized. It’s not. It’s a Motiv.

Motiv? Yes, that obscure bike company that doesn’t even seem to have a Website.

Motiv Stonegrinder

I was in the saddle about five seconds when it all came back to me. I love this bike.

It’s at least ten years old, and was probably purchased new for less than $200 at a Costco. My wife picked it up used off a friend in Juneau, Alaska.

Motiv Stonegrinder
You're not alone. Even this neighborhood cat was unimpressed.

When I first met this bike, probably five years ago, I lubed the chain, and was pumping up the tires so my then-fiancee and I could go for our first ever bike ride together. She asked, “Do you have to pump up the tires every time you ride it?”

I said, “No… I mean, yes, if you only ride it once a year.”

On paper, this bike is a piece of junk. But it fits me better than any bike I’ve ridden as an adult. If I were ever to spend $10,000 on a handmade bike, I could probably save the frame builder a bunch of time by just saying, Make it fit me like this. (It might knock 50 bucks off the price of that custom bike too.)

Those riser handlebars allow me to ride upright in great comfort–yet I don’t feel the least bit Dutch.

I can’t take much credit for the quality of the ride. I’ve put a little work into this bike over the years, but I’ve never invested in quality components. Instead it’s been used shifters from the discard bin at a local bike shop, a cheap new derailleur, a cushy seat for my wife.

There’s something magic about this bike. I don’t think it’s been ridden in a few months, yet the tires were still mostly full, and index shifting was dialed in.

If all bikes were this dependable and comfortable, more people would bike commute.

Motiv Stonegrinder
Not Specialized

One day, we’ll be getting my wife a new bike. But this one’s not going anywhere. This piece of magic junk is a keeper.

I’m wondering if there are other magic bikes out there; unassuming bikes with unexpected quality. If you have one, let’s hear about it.

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