I bought my splendidly orange Co-Motion bicycle in 2000, and for twelve years it has been my principal bike. For reasons described below, it is moving from its Pacific Northwest home to enter semi-retirement in Indianapolis.
Co-Motion bicycles are designed and crafted in a small state-of-the-art factory in Eugene, Oregon, a college town grown large at the southern tip of the Willamette Valley. When I first toured Co-Motion’s craft shop, it was still located in what seemed like an overgrown garage in a small strip mall. It has since moved to a beautifully designed facility closer to the edge of town. In my mind, this local business is a must see location for visitors interested in fine bicycles.
I bought this bike so that I could take it on my travels: light weight steel tubing, aggressive geometry, Wound Up carbon fork, and S & S couplers. Set up to go, before adding pump and water bottles, it weighs right at twenty-two pounds. This includes an old man’s triple drive train with mountain bike cassette.
Later, I added a front bag and fancy wood fenders to deal with the Northwest’s rainy season (January 1 through December 31, every year).
On this bike I have traveled approximately 15,000 miles of ordinary cycling for transportation, recreation, and conditioning. Twice Co-Motion has taken me on Cycle Oregon, three times on PAC Tour’s Desert Camp (about 500 miles each week), and once on a two-week excursion from Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon and return. My one time to ride RAGBRAI was on Co-Motion, and this was the bicycle on which I traced my family’s pilgrimage through the Cumberland Gap to Southern Indiana thirty years after Abraham Lincoln’s family had made a similar journey.
On my first PAC Tour trip, however, I realized that Co-Motion is a younger person’s bike: short wheel base, stiff frame, unforgiving fork, tight clearances, which limit tire sizes I can use. The bicycle that had suited me so well in older middle-age would work less well as a bike on which to become an old man.
This winter I acquired my old man’s bike: a custom titanium work of art by Seattle’s veteran frame builder Bill Davidson. With its softer but still spirited riding qualities, it has been designed to allow me to keep on biking another decade or more.
The plan, however, is for Co-Motion to stay in the family. My Indianapolis son has a use for it as a companion to his main bicycle. “Besides, Dad,” he told me, “you’ll have a good bike here when you come to visit.” Later in the week, he’ll check it for size, and we’ll decide if it stays behind when I return home to my new Davidson and the classic Mercian, which I’ve ridden for forty years.
I’m writing this at the Starbucks on 14th and North Capitol Avenue near a daughter’s Indianapolis home. I can see the outlines of Methodist Hospital where my son started out his life fifty years ago come October.
Co-Motion is tethered near by on this bright, warm morning. We’ve had a fine life together, this bike and I, for the past twelve years. If all goes well in our mutual semi-retirement, we’ll enjoy another decade of togetherness.