I’ve been wanting to start riding again. My mountain bike was stolen in DC a few years ago. The idea was to spend as little as possible on the best bike possible. That way, if I really take to riding again, it’ll be easy to justify buying a better bike later on down the road. And if I don’t ride it very much, I won’t feel too bad about the expenditure. I only work three miles from the office. I’m hoping I can ride to and from work a day or two each week, so I actually I need fenders and a luggage rack. I’m very patient when it comes to getting what I want, and it took me months to find what I was looking for.
I got this Raleigh Sprite Mixte 10-Speed (circa 1978, coffee finish) for $60 at a local thrift store. The Sprite was a bit retro even in its own time, but it was also foward-looking. It has thoroughly modern gear and came in three frames. Most people assume that a diamond frame is a man’s frame and a step-through frame is a lady’s bike. That’s mostly true (the low bar helped with modesty), but it wasn’t always. Diamond-frame bikes were designed for riding long distances on the roads and step-through frame bikes were designed mainly for getting from A to B in town. That’s why they are sometimes called “townies” by cycle geeks.
The Mixte (French, pronounced MEEkst) was supposed to be the best of both worlds. It was big like a road bike, easy to mount and dismount because of the lower frame, and it had “townie” handlbars. It was the precursor to the now-ubiquitous hybrid mountain bike. Some people hate them, but I think that has more to do with what they’re used to riding.
Here’s the brochure for the 1978 Sprite. You can see the three different frames.
UPDATE: On The Utility Of Thrift Stores