Wheels

The Popemobile is looking really rough lately. The front end has been a bit wonky since this asshat with a $200 pickup backed into it in 2006. It's been hanging on since then by way of bailing wire and good intentions. It has been hit a few times since then, too. I frequently park on a very busy street by campus, and it's clearly been nicked by passing cars on several snowy, icy days. I had to cut the plastic inner wheel well away on the driver's side to keep it from flapping at higher speeds. It really looks like crap.

The other day, as I backed out the entire bumper assembly and grill fell off. Just fell off in the parking space. Getting out of your car and trying to make the front bumper fit into the trunk is a special kind of embarrassment.

I decided that it was time to finally claim this problem on my insurance. I took it in for estimates as they instructed me. I was hoping that it would be cheap enough to justify just paying for it myself and not even claiming it. As I played with the body shop's dog, the owner tabulated the parts he would need to repair it. As the printer cranked out the list of parts and labor he quietly said, "It's $2308 so far."

So far?

Turns out that the estimate was just a preliminary one - could be as much as 15% more than that. Gone was any illusion of just paying for it myself. I have never made a claim on my car insurace - that's right; NEVER. So this time, I'm paying the $500 deductible, and I want it fixed like new.

All this car stuff got me to thinking about buying a new one. I have promised myself that I will get something new when I am done with my Master's. Here is my current favorite:The Smart fortwo passion coupe, in black with black on black. It's still gas powered, but hopefully by the time I am ready for a new car the spiffy electric version, currently only available in Europe, will be available here.

In other vehicle news, the WOB is dying an ugly death. I'm a big guy, and I put a lot of stress on the old girl. The Shimano 333 hub in the back wheel is slowly grinding itself into oblivion - every time I ride it, it makes alarming clicking sounds, and it slips on occasion. Soon it will click for the last time, and either seize up completely or slip for good. I have looked into getting it rebuilt, and even looked at replacing it with a spiffy new Shimano internal 8 speed, but the WOB really needs more work than that. The front rim has a horrible lump in it, and the brakes are very old technology (very old, very scary technology). They have almost no stopping power in wet conditions; you have to dry the pads by holding the brakes on lightly for quite a while, and even then you'd better not be going downhill.

If I had the guys at the Pedal House replace the front rim, build a new rear wheel with an internal hub, and replaced the brakes, I could extend the WOB's life for another few years - or, for about the same amount, I could have a new bike. Although I am very much attached to the idea of internal hub transmissions, I am leaning toward an Electra Amsterdam Balloon Eight. I would love to add a picture here, but this bike is so new that there aren't any pics out there yet except those found on the Electra website - which I can't easily swipe. Go there and click on the men's Balloon Eight. If you don't love it, we can't be friends anymore.

While I wrote this, my insurance company called and gave the ok for the $2300 repair... I'll put up some before and after pics when it is done.

8 comments:

Mayren said...

YAY! Highfive Linus!
Did you see?
I just got an Electra too!!!
Mine is just a started Cruiser but
I am thinking about replacing the Shimano to an internal 3 speed - woot. I love Electra. It was cheap so i can forgive my apple green color. I put up a post on it a few days ago if you wanna see.
I'm loving Bicycles again.

---
Insurance is a good thing to have and actually use. It's a good thing, even if it costs you $500 at first. *hug*

Flynn said...

w00t, go new front end!

Modig_Bjorn said...

Glad to here your insurance will cover the repairs!

Desolate Anxiety said...

I can relate to your pieces of car falling everywhere - I had a similar experience with my car, stupid thing sometimes I wish it would blow up (without me in it of course). Anyways I really think the new bike would be a good investment for you. :) Go GO Gadget Bicycle.

Mandy said...

Aah, another "green" car fan! I'm twitterpated over the Tata. (google it) It's cute and way cheap. Sadly, only available in India.

Regis said...

The wife and I got a Yaris last November. It haven't gotten less than 30 mpg, and that was pretty much all in town, low gear winter driving. It's fairly roomy, too.

I've gotta say, the thought of you in a Smart Car strikes me as rather European, not that that's a bad thing.

Drew said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbBo1UPbloI Take a look at that.
-Drew

His Sinfulness said...

That was pretty impressive crash footage, Drew... There are actually several Smart car crash videos on You Tube and they seem to hold up pretty well. Thanks for the link. :)

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