Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In Defense of BSOs

That's "Bicycle-Shaped Objects", in my snob-speak. Huffy, Magna, Pacific, etc. The stuff of all the dash-mart stores (K, Wal, etc.)

I just tuned up three of these monstrosities that a friend's office was donating to their adopt-a-family for the holidays. And, as expected, they were rife with all the things that are wrong with BSOs: steel rims, cheesy stamped brakes that only offer a hint of slowing, two-ton suspension that doesn't suspend anything, crunchy maladjusted bearings, wheels installed crooked (with brakes adjusted sideways to compensate), you name it. It took a full afternoon of work in a very-cold garage (with a lot of hammering and cursing) to get them rideable. If you paid a shop to do what I did, the tuneups would cost more than the bikes.

But when I was done, I couldn't help but smile. Any one of them was at least equivalent to my first BSO (an orange Murray banana-seat beast) that my mom and dad bought from Farm & Fleet some thirty years ago, and look where that ended up.

I can't say these are great bikes, but I'm withholding final judgment for about three decades.


Anonymous said...

Nice work Jason! Both for doing the hard work to make the BSO's useable, and for making up the TLA* "BSO".

For anyone who does work on their bikes, it's good to have the experience of working on BSO's. Without knowing just how awful bike parts can be, a person can't fully appreciate how wonderfully engineered the top-end bike parts really are!

happy holidays, and merry wrenching!

Steve Kurt

*TLA = Three Letter Acronym

Jason Nunemaker: said...

Credit where credit's due... the TLA "BSO" is semi-copped from the tandeming world, where those two-ton two-seaters from the dash-mart stores are known as TSOs: Tandem-Shaped Objects. I like the more general version, though... nerdy and snobby in just three little letters. :-)

toddvc said...

Agree with Steve. The thing is, if someone has tried to work with BSO parts, and doesn't know there's anything better, he might think there's something wrong with HIM when he has a hard time making adjustments. When of course the real problem is that BSO parts aren't made to be adjusted easily (if at all).

Jason it is great that you were able to do this, you provided for the chance that someone will get hours of riding pleasure on those bikes.

crankedmag said...

Just jumping around on your site....

Agh! BSO=dread!

Great post, we've used the term too often at the shop I'm at. The curious "charity" bike that the boss lets in every now and then.