I recently spent a week and a half in the Tuscany region of central Italy. My visit began with a stay in the oldest part of Florence, the section of town most amenable to tourists on foot and residents on bicycles.
I bought a new hat, ate plenty of pizza and marveled at the built-to-last nature of the city’s buildings and streets. Florence has its points of interest, like many cities, but it also has a great deal of visual and historical continuity. Moving through the streets is just as rewarding as arriving at one’s destination.
Plus, there’s plenty for the avid bicycle watcher to see.
Here’s the classic U-shaped folding bicycle. A few things I notice: the rear tire is newer than the all-white, and possibly original, front tire, and the handlebars and seat are raised significantly.
Take a look at the roadsters I photographed. I saw many people in Florence riding with a saddle significantly lower than fitting experts would recommend, probably to make it easier to put a foot down at a stop. After seeing that strategy used within dense crowds of people on foot, I find it difficult to disagree with the low-seat position on shorter, in-town rides.
This bicycle has an older rear-mounted baby seat offering minimal leg protection from the rear wheel’s spokes. Other bicycles sported the same sort of injected-nylon, leg-wrapping design we have in the States, though I did notice a few bikes with a baby seat bolted to the top tube, ahead of the driver of the bicycle.
Cruiser-style bicycle. The filled-in portion of the front frame would make a dandy platform for signage. The wider tires should improve the ride over the rougher streets of town–and require less “topping off” with a floor pump.
The first few bikes I saw in Florence made me think that all the roadsters I’d see would be older, out-of-production bicycles. In the United States, for instance, you’d be unlikely to see a steel fork bent backwards like this without accompanying frame damage. Our regulations ensure that the frame–the expensive part–will usually buckle before the forks.
On the right, the first Di Blasi folding bike I’ve spotted in the wild. Note the injected nylon wheels.
More bicycles to come…