Take-five bicycles. The wish list

Cruisers are great near Mission Beach, but it was a lot easier climbing the hill behind Metro Cyclery on a six-speed Brompton. This is Bill Tracy's personal commuter, complete with front generator hub and lights.

Quick. Imagine a bicycle.

Is your bicycle the same as the one I dreamed up?

Maybe. Maybe not.

If your idea of a bicycle includes a carbon-fiber frame, electronic derailleurs and the latest in ridiculous bottom-bracket standards, rest assured that wasn’t the one I had in mind. Neither was I thinking about this upright, back-to-back tandem.

Nonetheless, it’s your imaginary bike. Enjoy.

But why stop at just one? Liberally applied, the term bicycle covers a number of human-propelled ideas, and all of your favorites will fit on a piece of paper. It’s not like you’re spending money.

So, what’s on your wish list? Here’s my take-five memo in no particular order:

Brompton. Made in London for around 30 years, this folding bicycle with 16-inch wheels offers one of the best combinations of rideability and compact storage. The interesting thing about the company isn’t that it continues to grow from its high-labor, high-rent base; it’s that its competitors never really intruded on its design brief. I’ll take the original M-style handlebar for an upright riding position, but I’d be happy with a 2-speed, 3-speed or 6-speed drivetrain. (Something a bit larger and less expensive? Okay. How about a Tern with 20-inch wheels?)

Volae Expedition recumbent. Comfortable, reduced wind resistance and an elegantly simple frame that accommodates a variety of tire widths. Good visibility in town. Brand originated by the Hostel Shoppe folks in Wisconsin. Steel backbone frame by Waterford.

Wide, 650B wheels fitted to an older Motobecane. Flotation is so very French.

Wide, 650B wheels fitted to an older Motobecane. Flotation is so very French.

650B-wheeled bicycle. The beauty of a high-end wish list is that the sky’s the limit. You don’t spend money to create it. It’s just a list. However, the more reasonable the price of the bicycle I’m not buying (yet), the more attainable it seems to be. That’s why I’m not specifying a chrome finish. The only problem with this bike–featuring generator lights, fenders, rack and less all-up weight than my Fisher–is that I’m particular about the seat-tube angle. I know I’m 5-foot-7, but something in 72, 73 degrees, somebody. Otherwise, I’ll have to think custom. And that’s even more money I’m not spending any time soon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreenspeed GT-3 recumbent tricycle. Comfort, stability, conservative steel frame, and I don’t currently own anything from an Australian company (frame built in Taiwan). There’s nothing like coming up to a stop sign without putting a foot down. This is civilization for those in a reclining frame of mind. It’s not the fastest recumbent in the world, but I’m not the fastest rider, either. (I would also consider a Florida-made Catrike or UK-based ICE. Talk me into it.)

Victory ordinary. I used to own an 1880s-style bicycle. It was made for me by a gentleman in Indiana named Kennedy, who also sold tiring based on the original formula. (During one visit, he showed me you really can balance a quarter on the antique hood of an idling  Rolls-Royce. Good times.)

10003898_864648686892836_5871425484533033503_nI love the simplicity of this design. No chains, no freewheel, no chainring, no air-filled tires. The front brake is a curved piece of metal that slaps down on the smooth red tread. It’s the right brake for the job. A more powerful one would cause you to pivot around the front hub and land on your face.

You don’t know riding a bicycle in the rain until you pedal a 50-inch front wheel across Peoria’s Franklin Street Bridge. However, since that bridge is no more, I suppose you could recreate the feel by pedaling across a stretch of mirror-smooth ice on a breezy day. Just be sure to take your lane and prepare for a left-hand turn before you return to dry pavement.

I sold the Kennedy years ago to buy a tandem. The Florida-built Victory looks to be of high quality, true to both 19th-century design and 21st-century metallurgy. (Alternative in a pinch: a homemade tall bike.)

Final note: I didn’t get carried away here. No mention of an electric bike, a fat bike, a cargo bike, an electric fat cargo bike or a unicycle. Those are entries for the Next Five list (though the unicycle is seductively affordable).

Hey, you have to draw the line somewhere.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Brompton, Other bicycles, Tern Bicycles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Take-five bicycles. The wish list

  1. Pingback: Goodbye, N + 1 | 16incheswestofpeoria

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