Suburban Assault

Found In An Old Shed – Columbia 500

with 5 comments

Cheap 60's Steel

We started clearing out an old shed in my mother-in-law’s yard, so that it can be demolished in a few weeks. The shed had been unused, probably, for decades – so who knows what was living in there. All I know is that, with my fear of wasps and spiders – and not to mention small critters that bite – I wasn’t going near it. Fortunately, my wife is a badass and those things don’t seem to bother her. Once I got the overgrown shrub chopped down from in front of the door, it was easier for her to gain access and drag out this beauty for me.

Reading on, you’ll see that I use the term ‘beauty’ quite loosely and probably with a bit of sarcasm.

I’d spotted this ‘beauty’ a few months back, when we had originally thought about clearing out the shed. Through the shrub and slightly opened door, I could see the dark silhouette of an old bike, left to rust at the back of this dark shed. I kept wondering if this was some sort of forgotten treasure of vintage steal, that was only waiting to be salvaged and restored to it’s former glory. Even when my wife, bravely, rolled it out over the busted bags of fertilizer and potting soil, I had high hopes that it was going to be a ‘beauty.’

Not this time. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this bike had seen much better days. The rust, corrosion and the decades of Texas summers had taken it’s toll on this guy. Even so, my mind started wandering into a world of sand paper, chrome polish and elbow grease, to see this ‘beauty’ restored to a showroom finish. Perhaps I had seen too many episodes of American Restorations on the History channel. Unfortunately, I had been down the road of restoration, and the result – if ever finished – is never worth the amount of work I would put into it.

I wondered if it would be worth it to pay somebody to restore it. But then I started to look into the brand and model of the bike. It’s an old (I’m assuming late 60’s early 70’s) Columbia 500. After doing some digging on-the-line, I discovered that the Columbia brand, although it has a rich heritage of building bikes since 1877, is known for manufacturing “…quality bikes at affordable prices. Developed to satisfy the demands of the casual rider, who expects the feature, quality and confidence in a brand of bikes found in specialty bike shops. Columbia bikes offer a brand that is well recognized by consumers and at the same time offers a different product at a great value!” I read this as cheap department store quality bike.

After doing a bit more, light digging, I came to realize that it wouldn’t be worth the effort or expense to restore this ‘beauty.’ It’s too bad I don’t own a small bike shop or café, because this would make the perfect decoration to hang over the awning.

Columbia 500

Written by dickdavid

July 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I love your writing.


    July 16, 2014 at 7:26 am

  2. I know years ago when they still existed Montgomery Wards used to carry Columbia bicycles. My parents both worked for them at the time so the only bikes we every got until we had our own money to spend were Columbia or Open Road (Wards house brand)… man that brings back memories of my Open Road Excalibur complete with ape hangers, metal chain guard and banana seat.

    Rob Evans

    July 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    • It was Huffy for us. I remember that I couldn’t get rid of the sissy bar and banana seat fast enough. Now, I wish I still had that thing in it’s original form.


      July 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      • Man, we would have killed for a Huffy. Probably similar in quality but it would have been something different… grasses always greener and all that.

        Rob Evans

        July 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm

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