In 2011, I purchased a Schwinn Network 7 Men's Hybrid Bike on Amazon. This was the bike that would be a bit of a stepping stone towards becoming a dedicated cyclist.
At the time, I was coming off another Crohn’s disease flare-up and felt like I needed to get out and do some exercise. I thought about all the ways I could get some exercise in that would be low impact and something that was relatively easy to do. Thinking back to my childhood, the idea of riding a bike felt like a very natural thing to do.
The Schwinn Network 7 is a simple 7-speed bike with standard rim brakes, steel fenders, a heavily padded saddle, and a rack on the back. It’s also equipped with a suspension fork to help mild out the bumps and smooth out the ride.
I choose the Network 7 primarily because I wanted a bike that I knew would be easy to ride, which it definitely was. For someone who hadn’t been on a bike for a while, riding the Network 7 was surprising easy. I guess the old adage about never forgetting how to ride a bike is true.
However, one thing was for sure: this bike was heavy! A good 50 pounds for sure. Going up hills, even in the lowest gear, was quite a challenge. Granted, I was greatly out of shape at the time but lugging 50 pounds of bike up a hill didn’t make it any easier. The thing was built like a brick shit house for sure.
So, I bought the thing and put it together myself. It worked quite well even with one of the wheels being a little untrue. Brakes were pretty easy to adjust and always provided decent stopping power. Shifting remained smooth. It’s a 7-speed so it’s about as simple as it gets.
I rode it for a few months and then into the garage it went. I got sick again and didn’t feel comfortable riding a bike too far away from the house so I pretty much just stopped riding for a while. It was a good two years later when I got it back out again to ride. Once I did, I started riding and worked my way up to where I could ride a solid 30 minutes, around 5 miles on average.
At that point, I knew I was getting more serious about cycling. While the Network 7 is a good bike for your average rides, it’s not so great for getting seriously fit. So I went and got a more fitness oriented hybrid bike (more on that in a future post) and sold the Network 7 to an older gentleman who wanted a decent bike to ride around the city on.
Funny thing was when I delivered it to the guy who bought it, I did it using a new bike rack, a Saris Bones 2-Bike rack. Putting that 50 pound bike on it was quite humorous. The whole way down to deliver the bike, I noticed that the bike was bobbing up and down on that rack. I swear it was gonna snap at any minute...but it didn’t. It held up the whole way.
I still think about that bike now and then. Especially when going down the same trails I rode when riding the Network 7. I remember how hard it felt just going up some of the hills on those trails. Nowadays, those same hills are super easy. The Network 7 was very much a transitional bike for me but it represented the start of something new.