Sometimes it’s a small world. For example, once, years after college, I ran into somebody who lived on the floor below me freshman year. In Japan. On an escalator. In any case–

Since, you know, I finally stopped working at the bike shop, I no longer have access to that sweet, sweet thing called the Employee Q order. Sure, they don’t pay you much working in the bike shop, but having access to parts and fancy-bits at cost is pretty fucking sweet. (Plus, you get to bum around and talk bikes all day, and put on really great music when you’re manning the shop soundtrack.)

But alas, my time was up, and the new job pays enough that, really, I could pay full price for things if I really needed something. And I’m fortunate enough (and have good enough foresight) to not really need anything at the moment.

But to quote my father, “it’s not about need,” necessarily.

You see, I’ve got these nice extra brake levers burning a hole in the bottom of my parts bin. (Really, they’re for setting up the Straggler as a single speed guy for the winter.)

And sure, I could just swap the Rival levers for the brake levers on the handlebars I’ve already got on there (which, to be fair, are fucking awesome and why would I ever want to use anything else?), but there are two problems with this:

  1. Swapping the levers means changing the bar tape, which (for me at least) means new bar tape, and good bar tape is kind of expensive. As mentioned, I can no longer buy things at cost.
  2. This is a substantially less fun way to solve this (very, very minor) inconvenience in my life than…

Just acquiring a second set of handlebars, and using those when I run the Straggler single speed!

Yes, this does require extra housing and cables. But because of aforementioned foresight, I already have lots of extra housing and cables (plus some takeoff cables from other bike projects that really I should re-use). So, then, all I really needed was a handlebar.

Enter Craigslist.

Now, I wasn’t looking for handlebars, per se. This was just an idea I had been kicking around with some buddies at the shop, mostly as a joke, for quite a while. But ever since my kid brother’s gotten the bike bug pretty bad, I’ve been keeping an eye on it, just in case there comes up some great deal on something he “needs” for this CX bike he’s trying to build up.

(I mean, am I really the kind of older brother that would let his kid brother race CX with a friction downtube shifter? I mean, yes, but—)

So anyway, I was cruising around there a few weeks ago and saw a 44cm Cowbell 2 bar for sale for, I think, 30 bucks? Whatever it was, it was pretty close (or as close as I was going to get) to cost, and it was a takeoff kind of deal, and I wanted a 44cm+ bar for the single speed anyway, because I’m garbage at singletrack, so basically new, and it was in Waltham, which is very close to where I live.

So I message the guy, we find a time for me to swing by, and great: I’m going to have my winter bars after all.


So it’s a Friday morning, and I head over there before making my way down to Dorchester to “work remotely” (I actually did this, promise) and attend a Write on the DOT event (EDIT: the Write on the DOT site has moved, and I am not sure what it is these days. Anyway–). Guy opens the door, looks vaguely familiar. He goes into the apartment to grab the bars and we chat a little bit on the doorstep about bikes, because, you know, bikes.

I’d ridden ‘ol Schwinny over, but explained that the bars were going to go on the Straggler. He was telling me that he, himself, just bought a Surly, and is selling the Cowbell bars off them after a bike fit. Cool. He then explains that his last bike was “a piece of shit Fortified,” and then it all clicked into place:

“Holy shit, I sold you that bike!”

The guy was notable because he’s so tall, and because the bikes that I was building for them were, to be honest, kind of crappy, and limited in their sizing, it was this whole thing where he had to install a stem extender, explain about tolerances, etc… and anyway, I did what I could as their “mechanic” on their bike(s), but was in any case happy to see that this guy (who was/is nothing but friendly) is riding a more appropriate (and better) bike, and most importantly that he’s still doing the whole commuting thing!

We had a good laugh about it, I remembered to ask after his wife and their new baby (who I guess is almost two now… which is pretty nuts), and then I went on my merry, much bemused way.

That I got the bars for a steal is just icing on the cake.


So anyway, small world.