Bicycles across the way. Part three

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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On the right, the first Di Blasi folding bike I’ve spotted in the wild. Note the injected nylon wheels.

More bicycles to come…

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About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Other bicycles, Report from the road and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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