I went by a couple thrift stores yesterday and found a vintage Specialized Hardrock with a step-through frame for $37. At the next thrift store I found a Velo seat that is perfect for this one— that fat grandma seat wasn’t original and was in poor shape anyway. The bike was dirty and I spent the evening with a rag and a bottle of 409 to clean it up, put air in the tires and added lights and a rack from my parts stash. It is old, but in good shape– not a bit of rust and judging by the tires, rims and gear teeth it wasn’t used much. It does have some scuffs on the frame– I need some stickers!
Specs: 3×7 drivetrain with twist grip shifters, Shimano Tourney derailleurs, center-pull brakes, 26×1.50 hybrid tires, quill stem.
I added the $7 Velo seat, mirror, rack, head and tail lights– had a red water bottle too.
It’s surprisingly light and the ergonomics suit me. After cleaning it up I went for a warm summer night spin around the neighborhood. Sweet!
My plan is to use a couple bike like this for our gravelly rail-trail trips. With the flat grades I really don’t need a full-out mountain bike and the fat tires will help with the traction and bumps. That will save our townie/commuter bikes from the dust, vibration and the terrors of car rack travel.