A 20-year-old bike brings new meaning to the phrase “semper fidelis”

Semper fidelis, the Marine’s motto, means “always faithful”. I thought it was appropriate for this post. Read on…

Waaay back circa 1985, I was forced to buy a new bicycle when somebody stole my then-current bike. I didn’t own a vehicle, so every trip I made was by foot, public transit, or bike, with the vast majority of my trips being via bicycle. In addition to commuting and errands, I also did quite a bit of riding for pleasure. In fact, I would often ride the entire American River Bike Trail, (approximately 100 km/62 miles round trip), several times per week during the summer. So it was pretty important to me that I buy a bike suited to riding long distances. I went to my LBS, then known as the Mountain Wolf Co-op but now Peak Adventures. I told them what I was interested in, and they suggested that I get a touring bike. Here she is, still ride-worthy after 20 years:

Side view of my Takara Tribute

Back in the 80’s, a Japanese toy company named Takara was re-branding and selling inexpensive bicycles, and this was the brand that the Moutain Wolf Co-op was carrying at that time. Tribute was the model name for their touring bike. My bike above is almost stock–the only changes I’ve made are leather bar grips (the best!) and a longer (120 mm) stem, both of which were done almost the day I got the bike.

I put thousands of kilometers on this bike when I first bought it. (Remember, it was my primary mode of transportation!) But then in the summer of 1987 I got a professional job, and about a month later I bought my first motor vehicle. I still rode for pleasure, but not nearly as much as I had been. In the spring of 1992 my wife, daughter, and I left Sacramento (and the American River Bike Trail), and we moved about 35 miles south to Galt. This is a fairly rural area with relatively low traffic, but the roads are brutal on skinny 120 psi tires! My poor Tribute spent about five years gathering dust in the garage, while I braved the local farm roads (and ornery cowboy kids playing “chicken”, pickup truck versus bicycle) on a more suitable bike.

Things began looking up for my Tribute in the summer of 1997. I was laid off, along with 90% of my coworkers, from my job in Manteca. The very next day, I landed my current job at CSUS. One of the first things I did was rent a bike locker on campus. I dusted off my faithful, neglected Tribute, brought it into the LBS on campus for some maintenance, and resumed riding the American River Bike Trail, right across the Guy West Bridge from campus, woo hoo! Last May (2005), the situation improved further when we moved from Galt back up to Sacramento. I’m now doing most of my commuting (3 to 5 days per week, unless it’s raining) on my 20-year-old Tribute.

I’m getting ready to do some long distance (≥100 km) rides again this summer, but I’m way out of shape compared to 20 years ago. There’s no way I’ll be able to climb a hill with the current gearing on this bike, so I’ll be replacing the stock double chainring (42- and 52 teeth) with a triple chainring (30/39/53). The chainring comes with a new external-bearing bottom bracket as well as 172.5 mm cranks. (My current cranks are 170 mm.) The parts just arrived today, so hopefully they will be installed tomorrow! I’m also thinking about changing to clipless pedals, mostly so that my knees won’t be “twisted” by the cleats, but that will probably have to wait until my birthday. (Barb, are you reading this? Hint, hint…)

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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3 Responses to A 20-year-old bike brings new meaning to the phrase “semper fidelis”

  1. Warboss says:

    Well man, all can I say is congratulations for getting back to something you love to do!!!

  2. Pingback: SonicChicken weblog » Blog Archive » New parts or new bike?

  3. Rob Arnett says:


    Great to hear you and The Takara Tribute are still going strong. I just picked up a Takara Tribute at a goodwill today for 10 bucks. It is a very light bike, double butted and lugged cromoly with Shimano parts and the razor thin tires that require the
    odd bike pump. Seems it will be a great ride once I fix it up for that special distance ride. I live in Sarasota, FL and there is a favorite ride of bikers here in town with a lot of scenic gulf views. I have plans for that.
    Anything you can tell me about the tribute would be greatly appreciated. Seems like you are the only one on the web that has mentioned the bike as of yet.

    Thanks, Rob

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