On a (from what I remember) sunny late August afternoon, after having had lunch, I bought a new bike for 3195 SEK at Sportex on Sveavägen 77.
I had first thought about buying one with front and rear suspension, but based on my intended use, willingness to pay, and the quality of rear suspension in 2004, I settled for a hardtail with a rigid fork: a Peak Cycle Port Douglas 2004.
The first "modification" happened courtesy of a ditch near Eggeby Gård. The front fork was bent backwards enough that it had to be scrapped and replaced with a new one. (I went flying over the bars, but luckily no part of me needed replacement.)
Of course the bike joined me in Vienna.
A bit later I realized that I took better photos the more I moved around and I started optimizing the bike for photography. Since I was living in the center of Stockholm I no longer took the bike for rides around Järvafältet for exercise, and using it as a way to carry my camera and the lenses seemed like a better idea than keeping the bike stripped down to a minimum.
I added a kickstand and rear rack to the bike, and found a cheap quick-release bag to go with it.
By 2019 the bike was showing its age. The gear shifters didn't work well - the front gear could not go above the middle chainring and the rear not below the fifth. Expecting that the whole groupset[b] (gear shifters, sprockets, the whole lot) would have to be replaced, I decided to turn the bike in for maintenance. If I could get it fixed for less than 3000 SEK, that'd be worth it. I found a nearby bike repair shop - Cykloteket Service Store[c] - booked a time for maintenance online, and when the day came I rode the bike over there and turned it in.
One day and 1200 SEK later, I had what was basically a new bike. That's less than $10 / year in maintenance!
I was very impressed by the service. For example, I expected the gear shifters to need a complete replacement. In reality, they just needed a bit of cleaning and some oil. Cykloteket could have replaced them, charged me for it, and I would have been none the wiser. But they did right by me.
When covid-19 hit in 2020 public transport went from routine to something to avoid, and the bike stepped up. It was now that I really started using it regularly, and to go longer distances. As a result, I did some comfort upgrades. First I replaced the seat post with a dampened one[d], and added a padded seat[e]. Together these made the biking shorts I had previously worn unnecessary.
Then I did the most complex operation so far: I replaced the front fork with one with shock absorbers. This took a lot of measuring and guessing, as mountainbikes had gone from the threaded forks and quill stems of '04 to the threadless forks and Ahead/threadless-stems of today[f]. Unlike the first fork replacement, I had to replace part of the top headset bearing and the steering stem. The measuring and guessing worked out in the end, though, and after a couple of failed attempts I was the proud owner of a hardtail bike with front shock absorbers[g].
This change really made a difference to the ride comfort. Biking over roots, rocks, and bike path curbs suddenly felt very smooth where before I'd feel the bump in my hands.
I also bought a new chain lock that I could easily transport (unlike my old u-lock that I had to carry in a backpack), so I could lock the bike while out and about.
These past few months of regular biking have both re-ignited my joy of biking and taught me a lot about how customizable a bike is.
Looking forward to another sixteen years!