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My ride: 1999 Magna HiJinx


Yes, I ride a bicycle. A rusty-but-trusty, 20-year-old pink Magna Hijinx that I like to refer to (and shall refer to for the sake of brevity) as Helen.

From a distance, Helen doesn’t look all that bad. Being a completely-solid-frame bicycle (not even the fork has any cushioning), she’s an excellent sidewalk cruiser, but not that great on rough roads. For a bit of reference, imagine her to be something like a somewhat-more-sporty Accord of the same era - a somewhat-dated mid-size (Helen’s got 24" wheels) coupe or sedan of the era with more performance than usual and a bit less comfort, as well.

Helen’s been in my family for a few years, and for most of that time, she’s been our “junk” bicycle - the last thing any of us would want to ride. Before my mom fixed her up (with a “creative” solution), she was so agonizingly slow and awful that if I had had to choose between her and a unicycle, I would’ve taken the one-wheeler any day of the week. Now that she’s been repaired, Helen is honestly one of the greatest bicycles I’ve ever ridden - even with the subpar ride and all the other details.

Her side stickers proudly displaying her name in all their late-'90s glory.

The front fork, scratches, rust spots, and all. Here’s an interesting thing about Helen. Although her stickers might scream at passersby that she’s got a 21 Speed Shimano Shifting System like EFI and twin-cam labels on a mid-'80s compact, she’s actually not a 21-speed.

She still has her three gear chainrings (basically like ranges on a semi truck)…

…but Mom (like an absolute madwoman) replaced Helen’s rear wheel with a spare one that has five cogs (the bicycle equivant to gears). That means that she’s now a 15-speed - but she’s not that much worse off for it. Why, I’d argue that she’s improved with six fewer gears to sift through. Especially when 12th gear (3rd ring - 2nd cog) makes Helen behave so much like a single-speed that it’s uncanny.

Speaking of uncanny, this is the true position for 1st cog on Helen, as we haven’t adjusted anything on her to account for her missing speeds…

…and this is what happens when you try to throw her into “1st”.

Thankfully, for the rest of the cogs, there’s none of that “halfway between” stuff - just add one to whatever gear you want (in this case, I want 4th)…

…and she’ll give you that gear with no nonsense.

Unless you try to go to 7th. Then, she’ll give you NOTHING, because you’re already pelting down the road in 15th speed and she knows that if you need to stop, 15th speed’s a long boi already.

I have no idea what this once was, or what function it had, but whatever it was supposed to be, I stripped this big metal flappy thing off about a week ago.

This is what Helen’s right handlebar extension thing that could probably kill someone if you threw it at them looks like. A lot of scratches and rust spots in between the remaining pink and purple.

That’s a big theme with her paintwork. Here’s quite possibly the finest picture I’ve ever taken of a scratched-up handlebar side, with the cap pushed deep into the bar itself.

20-year-old bicycle, good condition, one “careful” owner, $15 or best offer (not for real, though; I’d probably never sell Helen, she’s that good).

More artsy shots.

Helen the Magna HiJinx: Proudly showing her heritage since 1999.

Oddly enough, she has some American in her; she was designed in California, so…that’s a plus.

The warning label, more proof of Chinese-Californian collaboration, and part of the date of manufacture.


That seems in good condition for a bike that old. In my holiday house, I have an old bike too, I’m not sure what it is but it’s a mid 80’s Reynolds. I would like to restore it like that one day