Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mercurio Bike Cart Arrives

It has been quite a while since I have put a post out here. Of course I have been cooking and even taking pictures on occasion, but haven't been inspired or blessed with the time to put something together. I am thinking that it is about to change now as I have become the proud owner of a Mercurio bike cart!

I became fascinated with these mobile kitchens from prior trips to Mexico (see Oaxaca trip postings if you are interested). It is like a blank sheet of paper with so many options and potential configurations.

I know what you are asking, how did I get my hands on one of these? You probably already know the answer, eBay. I was just randomly looking one day and there it was, a real Mercurio cargo bike in good condition. The price was $380, but it had to be picked up from Burbank. That was going to be the tough part. The good news is that it eliminated the bid competition. A few days and emails later, and I won the bidding.

My brother has some contacts who run produce equipment up and down the southern part of California and over a couple of months, he was able to get the bike moved from Burbank, to Oxnard, to Salinas, and finally, to Sacramento. Alas, my precious bike made it home.

It was a little weathered with some rust on the bare metal parts including the rims and it had no working brakes. Otherwise, it was in great shape and truly the real deal.

Some steel wool and WD-40, and the rust slowly disappeared. The brakes were going to be another issue. I decided to ride it the 3 miles to a local bike shop that deals with vintage bikes. Without any brakes, I had to do the Flinstone stop when necessary. It is difficult enough to maneuver with brakes, but no brakes made for an interesting ride. My forearms were exhausted from keeping the wheels going straight by the time I got to the shop. I was looking forward to dropping it off and getting into my awaiting ride. Bad news, the bike didn't fit in the bike shop doors. I was able to talk the salesman into coming outside to look at it. "Just bring the back wheel in and I can fix the brakes for you" was his comment. Grrr, now to ride it all the way back home and return with the back wheel. At least I got some interesting looks on the way back.

Removing the back wheel did give me a chance to remove the chain and get all the rust off of it too. Tried to put on some new, metal pedals, but they were an obscure size and I decide to put the original ones back on. Got the back wheel back a week later and everything was clean and functioning. Bike repair guy said that the manufacturer didn't put any grease into the hubs of the coaster brakes. This is such a well built bike, sad to see the manufacturer cheap out on greasing the hub and putting on weak pedals.

Now the fun part is about to begin. I have seen all kinds of uses for these bikes, but have never seen one used for making tacos. That is my vision, lets see how it goes.