About Gigi

This is a story about a special bike. When I first saw her she was a frame with a fork and a seat, and had been rescued from being scrapped after not finding a buyer at an estate sale. There were a few additional components that came with the bike, brakes and shifters, but no wheels, tires, deraillers, brake handles, seat cushion, and most importantly no handlebar riser or stem. She was pretty forlorn sitting there, and I was pretty poor in cash, but I had a small collection of bike stuff I had pulled off the roads before trash day, and I had a critical component that you just can’t buy, a wedge nut for a 1 1/8″ threaded stem. The same size and configuration as Gigi’s front fork required.

I had a workable front wheel from an abandoned BMX bike, but no workable rear wheel. I had a usable rear tire but nothing I could use as a front tire. I had some brake handles I could use, and several sets of handlebars to choose from. I also had some chrome moly 1″ tubing that I could use to build a stem from and those handlebars were attached to BMX stems that could be welded into a new stem.

The first thing I saved the pennies I found laying in the street for was a hunk of all thread to use as the clamp bolt for the stem. At the time Gigi was supposed to be my wife’s bike so I used the all thread to set the length of the stem for her sitting on the seat. I used wedge nuts from several stems to use as jam nuts. it was a masterpiece of “po’ boy” (where you are so impoverished you can’t afford the last 2 letters in the word “poor”) engineering. I cut the all thread and welded the nut on one end, then measured from the bottom of the handlebar clamp to the wedge nut on the bottom of the all thread and cut the 1″ tubing to length and matched the angle on the wedge nut. Next I had to drill a hole in the tubing and part way into the stub of stem I left on the handlebar clamp so that I could get good penetration from my little 70 amp buzz box welder. The wall thickness on the stub of the stem was a little higher than I thought and I had to redo this weld several times until I got it right, pushing my buzz box to the thermal shutdown limit. I had to grind out weld bead and slag from bad welds several times until I got it right with no slag inclusions.

All this time I had been calling this bike the Grocery Getter, because that was the intended function of the bike. I was going to get this bike up and running for my wife to go to the store and buy groceries and bring them home, instead of riding the bus and walking home with the groceries in her backpack, then I was going to fix my bike back up. Well Gigi has been up and running for almost a year now, and finally made fully functional last month, and my old bike the Stratus is still sitting in the garage.

Somehow, during all this activity and fitting and measuring, the Grocery Getter started communicating with me, making her feelings known. I had been riding bikes for more than 40 years, building them for 8 and I never thought bicycles even had feelings, much less communicated them. But the first thing she “said” was thanks for putting her back together, the second was that while she didn’t mind being used to get groceries it was not her name, she was a Diva and she deserved a diva-ish name, like Gigi (Grocery Getter, G. G. , Gigi, I said she had a personality, I didn’t say she was creative in her name). So who am I to argue with a bicycle? She wants to be called Gigi, she’s Gigi.

The only thing I can figure out about why this bike started communicating with me and none of the others I rode or built is this one was destined for a recycler unless I took her, and I rebuilt her to nearly the same as when she was first made. The other bikes I took in were never in any danger of being recycled, except by me as parts of new bikes. Gigi was also the only bike that wasn’t a whole bike when I got her that went back together almost the same as she was when she left the factory, I didn’t make any modifications that required cutting and welding on her frame or fork. everything I have done to Gigi was built separately and then bolted on. This is also unlike the rest of the bikes I have built that required cutting bending or welding to the fork or frame of the bike.

Anyway I eventually scraped the money together to buy the things I could not make, and to make the things I could not buy, and found the things I couldn’t make or buy, but had to have to make it a rideable bicycle. The final items were given to me by members of my church so that Gigi was more than just something that moved my butt, she was Transportation.

As of right now I still need to do something about the cargo capacity as bringing home a full grocery cart on the bike is impossible, I can carry the weight but not the volume. One item in particular is most vexing in my inability to bring it home, the gallon jug of milk. I can carry 2 half gallons, but stuffing a full gallon in the saddlebags and being able to get them closed is still out of the realm of possibility. And the price difference between a single gallon and 2 half gallons is substantial, along with the amount of time it keeps in the fridge. No kidding, the second half gallon always goes bad before I can finish it, but a full gallon will keep until I’m through with it and consume every drop. so I’m still trying to get a 4′ X 8′ sheet of 10 or 12mm Coroplast and some 3M 77 spray contact cement to make side carriers that will swallow a grocery cart load without noticing it, and keep it cold until I can get it home.

Also, this is the appropriate place to send your Gigi fan mail, not to me. You can gush to your heart’s content in the comments section, and I will only edit or delete things that are illegal or patently offensive. Stupid is still permissible, mash notes as well but keep it clean. Gigi is a diva, not a slut.

EDIT 03/18/10:

Gigi has a Facebook page now, you should go become a fan. Gigi Fusion, the bicycle of Witch on a Bicycle

OBIT 10/23/2010

Gigi is assumed destroyed at this point. After having been stolen back on 5/2/2010 nothing has been seen or heard about her since. No pawnshop reports, no abandoned bike reports matching her description, nothing. The bicycle that had the most personality of any bike I have ever owned is gone.

RIP Gigi Fusion

5 responses to “About Gigi

  1. Would you guys like to review my film BICYCLE DREAMS – i’d be happy to send you a dvd
    thanks
    Stephen Auerbach

    • Well, on the “guys” thing, there is me, the human Opus, and Gigi the red bicycle. As for reviewing your DVD sure, I would love to

  2. Pingback: How would you do Europe on two wheels? « BikingInLA

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Witch on a Bicycle

  4. This is my favorite source of news from “the jungle” –outside of my own adventures.

    “The jungle” refers to this hostile place where we cyclists and pedestrians are trying to survive.

    Keep up the good job, Opus!

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