Let us start, dear bodger, with an analogy. The motorcar. Mr Jones, who hopes that we are all keeping up with him, has a brand new one parked on this driveway. It shines majestically. The engine purrs regally. Every moving part can be effortlessly controlled by the flick of a switch from the driverís seat. It has more computing power below the bonnet than the PC upon which I write this missive. It is a mechanical wonder of modern age. Just like the one that Mr Jones bought two years ago. And the one two years before that.
But there are, alas, problems. When it breaks down, as it is sure to, an adjustable spanner and a Haynes manual will be of little use to Mr Jones, instead he will have to return it to the service centre. And it cost so much money, but maybe that is part of its lure? But imagine Mr Jonesí horror when he sees that his neighbour has purchased exactly the same model. This car was part of Mr Jonesí identity, now he is just part of the crowd again.
Mr Jonesí other neighbour owns a 1950ís British sports car. Itís not as fast as Mr Jonesí, itís not as quiet as Mr Jonesí, itís not as comfortable as Mr Jonesí, itís not as shiny, slightly rusty in fact, and it even leaves the odd patch of oil here and there. But it has character: its owner has pride in it because he built it from a rusting old shell that he found in a dilapidated barn years ago. He knows every nut and bolt on it, recognises every creak and shudder that runs through it, and has half a lifetimeís worth of memories invested in it. Mr Jones looks down on its technical inferiority. But in his heart of hearts he knows that it has something that his cars will never have, no matter how much he spends on them.
And that, dear bodger, is it in a nutshell, or, indeed, a computer designed, wind tunnel tested body shell. Skip Bike and Bodge It is not about spending large amounts of money on lavish carbon and titanium exotica. It is not about relying on the bike shop for repairs and adjustments. It is not even about using off the shelf replacement parts. When it comes to building and maintaining a bike it follows the mantra of re-use, recycle and remanufacture.
There are thousands of unused, unloved cycles out there, standing idley at the back of sheds, their tyres flat, bar tape torn and chains rusted. Eventually each one will find itís way to a skip or a local tip. And here is the defining moment in the life of these velocipedes. Many will go unnoticed and spend eternity in purgatory as so many tin cans, part of a washing machine or return to the earth as oxide. But just once in a while they will be spotted by a bike bodger. Someone who can see beyond the rust, the faded decals, the bent rims; someone who can nurse this once proud machine back to life to lead a happy and fulfilling existence once again.
The bodger will take this ailing machine home to the hallowed ground of his or her shed. Here it will undergo a catharsis as it is stripped of its components, one at a time its sins are forgiven, and when finally its bare soul is reached its rebirth can begin. Now the bodger starts the resurrection. But this is not a restoration to original condition, no, the art of the veteran cycle restorer is to be found elsewhere. This is a reincarnation, out of the ashes a new phoenix will arise, carrying within its heart part of the bike bodger himself. The treasure chest that is the bodgerís spares box will be raided, the For Sale columns of cycling fora scanned and club matesí sheds investigated as the bike is rebuilt. If parts cannot be found then they will be built, for this is the other art of the bike bodger: fettling.
And one day the shed door will be opened again and the steed will be wheeled out into the early morning light. A last check over of the mechanics, and the bodger will mount and pedal off into the summer morning to experience familiar territory in a brand new way. The bike may not look as flash as the bodgerís friendsí new race bikes, it may weigh a kg or two more. But the bodger wouldnít swap it for any of them: in monetary terms it cost the bodger nothing but his investment in this bike is so much greater than that of any of his friends in theirs. This bike truly is of him and part of him.
The Skip Bike and Bodge It way does not claim to be the only true wayô, it is just a different way. This board is dedicated to those bodgers out there and their creations.