My first bike was a Christmas gift when I was 5. It was a red Schwinn (US brand) and I know it came with stabilisers, but I don't remember riding it with them. It came to an early death when it was run over because I had left it out on the drive and one of my parents backed the car over it. I went through numerous bicycles after that. My mother kept buying cheap bikes and I was rather rough on them. After I broke the fourth frame (split at a weld seam trying to do tricks on a home-made jump) in a couple of years, she refused to buy me another. The next bike was born of a frame claimed from a skip, and parts scavenged from the four deceased bicycles. And it lasted until I outgrew it.
When I was 16, I saved up my money and bought a Raleigh Super Grand Prix from a friend's older brother. Mine looked like the one in this blog, only gold & brown http://triplebranch.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... -prix.html and didn't have the 'made in Japan' sticker. I understood that mine was built the last year they built them in England, but I never verified that.
I loved that bike and rode it for many many miles over a number of years. I was heartbroken when it was stolen from me at university. My heartache was compounded by getting a raw deal from the insurance company.
I bought a bike from one of my professors for $20 and that got me around until after I graduated and got a job (and could afford a better bike, again).
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