The 1987 Free Spirit Pinnacle was my sole bicycle in middle school before I received my late uncle's Huffy Superia mountain bike. The Pinnacle was then put on the back burner due to tire problems (which are featured in some of these stories) before the Superia was recycled due to literally falling apart. The Pinnacle has been restored to ridable condition, but is slated to be replaced this fall (Fall 2018.)
After our house burned down in October 2010, I did not have a bike. The bikes I had before were cheap Walmart bikes that regularly gave us trouble, such as gear mechanism failures and just overall poor quality.
My grandparents wanted me to have a bike, so they took me around to garage sales to try to find a cheap but good bike. The bikes we found in the beginning of the search were all horrible - they were either way to small (most being children bikes and tricycles), in poor condition, or a mix of the two. As we were going home, I begged them to go down one street. Sitting outside one house on the street we were going to skip was the 1987 Free Spirit Pinnacle.
As soon as my eyes met the Pinnacle, I was in love with the bike. I thought the bike looked cool, especially in comparison to the ones I previously had. The Pinnacle was in good condition, although both tires were original and completely flat. $20 later, the bike was mine. The seller told us that the bike stayed in her garage since it was new, as their child used it to get around in college.
After the Pinnacle followed us home, we aired up the tires and checked some other things. A test spin showed that all the mechanicals were working, but the tires weren't holding the air the best. After filling the tires up once again, I took the Pinnacle for a quick spin up the street. I hit a small rock in the road that must've been sharp enough to pop the front inner tube, as I heard a slow hissing while riding. I promptly turned around and rode the short distance back home, bummed out. The next day, the front tire was replaced and both tubes were replaced, although the rear factory original 1987 Golden Boy tire was still present.
When I was younger and regularly riding the Pinnacle, I would ride on streets and sidewalks. I would try to avoid riding on major roads, but there was one exception to this rule that sticks out in my memory. This story happened around the time I was 12 years old; I was still in middle school.
Our town (Boonville) was one of the towns that the Katy Trail ran through. I would regularly ride the Pinnacle (despite being a road bike with its skinny tires) on the trail, usually to the next town over (New Franklin.) A couple times I would go in the opposite direction. In this story, I went in the opposite direction.
Some ways outside of town, there was a trail overpass that crossed I-70. I decided to not continue going on the trail. But instead of turning back and riding the trail back to the trailhead in Boonville, I decided to go the "adventurous" route and take the road. Afterall, the Pinnacle is a road bike.
So I took a road over to a busy highway and started down it. This particular highway has some steep declines - but they had to go down and come back up. I got half way down this road before I encountered the first steep hill. I was already out of breath and walking my bike along the small gravel shoulder. Cars were slowing down to pass me, and a couple cars even stopped and asked me if I needed assistance. I managed to walk my bike up the hill and continued riding to a car dealership, where I could get a drink.
The story gets even better. To continue home, I'd have to turn on to an even busier highway and take it. This highway had a non-existant shoulder, and the speed limit was 45 miles per hour. So I'm riding on the tiny sliver of a shoulder while cars, trucks, and busses are zooming past me at 45 miles per hour. While that road always seemed to be pretty straight, that ride taught me that it had more inclines than I imagined.
Thankfully, that stretch of road had a steep decline that allowed me to catch up some speed, and I was able to make it to another place to catch my breath and get a drink. From there it was a straight-shot home, with some hills. But I eventually got home. And didn't want to do that again.
Tires have always been the achilles heel of the Pinnacle, at least after the original Golden Boy tires were replaced. In this story, I recall just how bare the original rear tire got before being replaced. This story happened when I was about 12 years old; I was in middle school.
I was riding on the Katy Trail, going to the next town over. While the Pinnacle was a road bike with skinny, 27x1 1/4 tires, it fared pretty well on the gravel trail. On this particular day, it was cloudy and I was unsure if it was going to rain.
Things were starting fine. I crossed the pedestrian/bicycling trail on the bridge and got to the next trailhead and even got down the trail some ways. Then I heard the dreaded "psst..." - the unfortunate release of air from the rear tire.
I never carried a tire repair kit or pump. So I'd have to walk the bike back into town and try to jerry-rig the leak or walk to a friends house and phone home to have my father pick me and the bike up.
I got the bike back across the bridge and to the gas station, where I tried airing the tire up. No dice - it wouldn't hold air very long. So I continued walking to a friends house to phone home and have my father pick me up.
Right as I got to my friend's house, the sky just ripped open and it just started pouring down outside. Raining cats and dogs. The timing couldn't have been any better, and I was then thankful I got a flat. Otherwise, I would've been stuck out on the trail in the pouring rain.
The tire that "let go" was the original, 1987 Golden Boy tire that the bike came from the factory with. The tread on that tire was nearly nonexistant. The "tread" was the nylon cords that held the tire together. I wasn't too concerned because we had a Kevlar puncture-proof strip installed in the tire, to protect from punctures. But the sidewall was giving way, and most of the gumwall sidewall had worn down to the nylon cords as well. It wasn't going to be much longer before the nylon strings gave way and the tube blew out. But that tire held up - running 75 PSI with mostly just the nylon cords. And I rode it like that for a good while - at least for a season or two. The tire was replaced after the incident, and that's when things started going downhill with tires.
After getting the rear, original Golden Boy tire replaced, I was back on the trail. I took the Katy Trail to the I-70 overpass before turning around as it was getting pretty late out.
And that's when it happened again. The infamous "psst..." you hear before your tire is completely flat.
It was unfortunate timing, as it was late fall and the sun was setting pretty quickly. So I took a breather before doing something that you should never do to your bike.
I hopped on and rode... on a flat tire... on a gravel trail. This portion of the trail was probably more abusive than the other portion of the trail. There were huge boulders and rocks littering the trail, and if I remember there was a portion that was very rocky as it was being fixed. Needless to say, I abused the poor 1987 rims that evening. But I had to get home. By the time I got to the trailhead, it was late enough that cars had their headlights on and the street lights were illuminated.
I got back to my friend's house (the same one where I went to during the first flat on the trail) to call home again. Thankfully, the tire and rim both fared pretty well. But it probably didn't help the condition of the 1987 rim, and probably helped lead to the issues I'm having today.
One Spring day I started riding the 1987 Free Spirit Pinnacle to school. I was quite tired of riding the school bus, despite my previous obsession with school buses when I was younger. Plus, it was great exercise and a good way to get out and enjoy the beautiful April weather.
I can recall riding my bike down the streets to get to school, then parking my bike in the bike rack. I parked the beautiful Pinnacle road-bike next to some lowly Mongoose and Huffy bikes that others had, mostly BMX and low-end mountain bikes. I felt proud of my bike. It was nice to come back out at the end of the day and unlock it while watching other kids admire the bike.
Oddly enough, a teacher at my middle school (who I had for sixth-grade math) was a bicyclist himself. I can remember him biking from the nearest city (where he lived) 25 miles to work. He had his bike in the classroom as a testament to what he did. I admired him for that.
I can also recall hanging out with some friends in middle school when they told me that I should start a bicycling team/club for our school. While somewhat flattering, I'm not that good.
After acquiring the Huffy Superia, the Pinnacle was shelved. The rear tire was constantly blowing out, and it was later determined that the rim was incompatible with the new, high-pressure tires that were being installed. Therefore, inflating them to their "recommended" pressure would result in an ear-ringing "BANG!" New rims weren't exactly cheap.
But the Superia didn't last too long on its own. About two or three years in, both of the plastic pedals broke off. While trying to repair the pedals, something else broke and I just threw my hands up in the air and took it to a neighbor who was quite mechanically-inclined and was an avid bicyclist himself. (This was after our local bike shop, Chuck's Bikes, closed up shop for good.)
My neighbor couldn't do much. He let me borrow his extremely nice Gary Fisher mountain bike for the summer, which allowed me to continue ridind and ride on the trails. Riding a bike never felt so comfortable - everything was on shock absorbers, and the gears shifted so easily. It was definitely the exact opposite of the Huffy, which shifted harshly and had absolutely no shock absorption.
By the end of the summer, my neighbor asked me to bring the Pinnacle up to his house. I had already brought him a rim to get his opinion. I lugged the entire bike up the street to his house and he looked at it. I came the next day and he had bought two tubes, a new tire for the rear tire (which is now mounted on the front), and had cleaned the bike up mechanically. While the front tire had a hole in the sidewall where the tube slightly bubbled out, I could ride the Pinnacle. He returned it to good condition, and he paid for it out his pocket.
I never have had such an awesome neighbor. Unfortunately, he moved away before I could repay him (out of courtesy) and learn some other tips and tricks about working on bicycles from him. I always told him he should open up his own bike shop to fulfill the obvious need in our town for one (afterall, the Katy Trail cut through town) but he had a couple other jobs he enjoyed. He was a jack-of-all-trades.
While the Pinnacle was back up and going, the fun didn't last long. The brakes were worn down. I was riding my bike when I couldn't stop. I can recall almost running into a stopped car (I ran a stop sign because I couldn't stop) before managing to stop the bike with my feet. With that same ride, I hit a steep decline in a sidewalk. That decline and how I hit it resulted slightly bent the Pinnacle's rear rim, leaving an impact mark. Then on the way back, a huge nail penetrated through the front tire of the Pinnacle. The nail was huge, tearing a pretty big gash in the sidewall and the tread area, ruining the tire.
Yet again, the Pinnacle was once again decomissioned until I could restore it. And thus, the Pinnacle ended up being one of the first things discussed on my then-new blog.
Oddly enough, one of the things that got me seriously interested in reviving the Pinnacle was a viewing of Breaking Away in film class during my senior year of high school. That film has become one of my all-time favorite films, and inspired me to actually get the Pinnacle back up and going.
©2018 Garrett Fuller.
Created 10-14-2018 on the IBM ThinkPad T42.
Edited 5-26-2020 on the 2019 MacBook Pro.