The Return of Sonnie, the GT Arette Bicycle

Before this blog began on January 1, 2016, before Sophie the Fairdale, before Sookie the Fuji, there was Sonnie the GT Arette. She’s come back into the stable because Sookie is retired due to her fatal frame crack. Today I rode her to a meeting, barbecue joint, bike shop, shoe store and then home for a total of just 12 miles. Here’s what I noticed about my new/old bike.

Hello, Old Friend

Sonnie poses in front of a red heart painted on a tree.

Riding Sonnie was familiar and strange at the same time. She came to me as a gift from Richard the reflexologist (think of an acupunturist for the feet but with fingers not needles). Richard got a different bike and took pity on me since the first bike I ever bought for myself was stolen on Christmas Eve.

A Dude doesn’t like to talk about that. But I do like to mention that my bicycling journey kind of began with this bike. I rode my first charity ride in April of 2015. That was a very memorable day because I I went for 50 miles, which happened to be my age at the time. It was over twice as far as I’d ever been on a bike in my whole life, and it was pretty hard and hilly. So we have history, Sonnie and I. And like human friends, that’s important.

GT Arette means “summit” in French. The company that made her began in Southern California got its start by creating BMX and mountain bikes. Made probably sometime in the 1990’s, her exact provenance is unknown, but she has a distinctive “triple triangle” under the seat. There wasn’t alot of hill-climbing (or jumping) on today’s rides, but maybe as we become reaquainted I’ll feel more comfortable tackling some of Austin’s famous asinine ass-numbing ascents.

Like Buttah

This tree has a heart where a branch must have broken off.

The first thing one notices about Sonnie is she’s a big-boned lass, even a little heavier than Sophie. (As Jerry Seinfeld taught us, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”) But with some good old-fashioned steel, as I recall, she’s about 32 pounds butt nekkid. By that I mean no added water bottles, tool bags, lights, etc. Since I’m not a racer, I don’t mind, but I do miss the weight of the aluminum Sookie. However, steel reduces the bumpiness of the ride and is super sturdy. I’m not planning on taking Sonnie off of any sweet jumps, Napoleon Dynamite style, but if I have to go off a curb or hit a pothole, I’m not as worried about damaging the frame.

With three chain rings in the front and seven gears on the cassette, she’s got 21 total, which is 12 more than the Fairdale. So going up hills will be easier, although the extra four pounds is significant. But she rides similarly on flats, that is, like buttah, once up to speed. The shifters are I think what are called barrel, not triggers, so they’re actually easier to use; one doesn’t need to move their thumb off the grip. She is lacking clip-in pedals, a seat with comfort cut-out (if you know what I mean), or wrist rests on the grips. At some point I may switch those over from Sookie.

It’s Not About the Bike

Some bike art nearby.

Overall, she’s just a darn good solid hybrid bike. Today’s riding wasn’t very fast or furious, just running errands. It was more to test that Sonnie’s still rideable and I’m happy to report she is. I’ll be taking her to South by Southwest over the next two weeks. First I’ll volunteer again and then I’ll attend the festival to try to stoke the creative juices. The hidden agenda is that I don’t want Sophie to get stolen. I don’t want that to happen to Sonnie either, but it would be less of a loss because Sophie is newer. (No hard feelings, Sonnie!)

Time will tell how often I ride her, because in many ways she’s quite similar to Sophie. At some point I do want a lighter bike again. Until then, I’m happy to have my old friend back.

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