Excluding the K Mart 10-Speed that I got when I was around 12 years old (that was quickly stolen when I left it in the driveway) my first “real” road bike was a Bridgestone 600…
It was even the same color as the one in the image above. With one exception – mine had those awesome foam Grab-On grips.
Picture this – a young gentleman with long hair and a jean jacket with all the latest death metal patches on it and a wad of money in his pocket that was aquired through a form of free enterprise that was frowned upon by the local law enforcement agency walking into the largest bike shop in Portland and proclaiming “I want a Bridgestone” – because my room mate had stated “Get a Bridgestone dude. They’re awesome.” The mechanic/salesman looked at me warily until I said I had around $500 to spend – this was the early eighties when $500 would buy quite a bike. He showed me the Bridgestone 600 and I was a little upset that a bike of that price didn’t have those extra brake levers on them so I could stop without going into the drops. He explained that they didn’t sell bikes with those because of liability. “Whatever. Can you put those foam grips on it for me?” After changing over the grips and a quick test ride by the mechanic to “seat the spokes” I was on my way. I don’t think that bike lasted much longer than the K Mart special because I was playing Ricky Road Racer around a blind corner and bounced of the hindquarters off a VW Bug and folded the fork, shortening the wheelbase by about 12″. I’ve actually hit or been hit by automobiles three times in my life and all three times it was a VW Bug but I’ll save those stories for another entry.
The funny thing is that I ended up getting a job at the same bike shop a few years later and after I learned about “cycling”, Campagnolo, Columbus tubing, etc. I would just shake my head at myself and chuckle. Those guys that sold me the 600 must have had a good laugh as soon as I was out the door.