The Martin 107
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 37 of 62 › view all entries
Having new digs, I needed transportation, preferably used - something that would not stand out in a row of other parked bicycles. Ken pointed out the neighborhood where bikes are sold. Browsing a small show-room displaying new bicycles gave an idea of the various models available - and prices. The common, heavy steel designs begin at half a million Ðong (about US$32) and skyrocket from there. Low weight, high tech models price in at over five million (about $315) and go up.
I inquired of used bikes. The middle-aged store owner led me through a shop area where bicycle parts littered the work bench and the floor. Squatting mechanics tinkered at floor-level. They siphoned scattered hardware, parts, and tools to coax a variety of bicycles, at various stages of disassembly, into a longer road-life.
Except for a narrow passageway, a back room was cluttered with used bicycles. They were trade-ins from people who either upgraded to a newer model or left the world of bicycling altogether and advanced to the motorbike. I spotted the one that I wanted; a gray - possibly silver if cleaned up - Martin 107 which was covered in dust, sporting a cargo basket and a padded passenger seat.
One of the mechanics retrieved my selection from the top of a tangled heap reaching close to the ceiling. He rolled it outside and, like an Indy 500 pit stop, serviced the gem roadworthy with lightning speed. He aired the tires hard; oiled the chain; adjusted brake cables, the seat, and handlebar heights; and demonstrated a built-in locking mechanism which interrupted the back wheel between two spokes.
After a couple of test runs which resulted in the repair of a loose pedal arm, some final brake adjustments, and paying the store owner 300,000 Ðong ($19), I merged into the streets of Nha Trang. Despite the initial wobbling by being suddenly tall, narrow, and top-heavy, I found it rather easy to blend with other traffic. It took much longer, however, to figure out where I was going.