It happens all the time: boy meets girl, boy decides to get her a bicycle. This is especially true for hardcore bike geeks. These relationships don’t always work out. Scan eBay listings for road bikes smaller than 52cm and you’ll find a dozens of stories about bikes for girlfriends that just ended up collecting dust. Oh, and the girlfriends don’t always stick around either. Then that bike definitely is an eyesore.
So getting your girlfriend a bike is always a risky move. But it can be fun.
My girlfriend has declared that she isn’t into athletics, but she picked up my Redline BMX and decided that she would ride more if her bike weighed a lot less. So I pulled a spare BMX frame out of the back of the shop and started a project.
The modern BMX bike is a direct descendent of the Schwinn Stingray, a 20”-wheeled, banana seat classic. I hatched this idea to take a racing BMX frame and returning it to its roots. I’ve got a Kappa cromoly frame with 1-1/8” headset and a Euro BB, and I’m gonna put high-rise “ape-hanger” handlebars and a banana seat on it. I’ve got the project halfway done now. The bike has a early 90’s Campagnolo Chorus crankset and Redline fork. It’s gonna be AWESOME. If she ends up really liking it, I’ll have it repainted this spring.
So who else has gotten a cool bike for a significant other? And I mean a really cool bike, not some token hybrid. Did the girl keep riding, or did it end up on eBay?
The USA Cycling 2007 Cyclocross Nationals are well underway in Kansas City this week, with results from the first day already starting to roll in. Races continue today through Sunday, and over 2000 will be racing. Several of the Elite champions will be attending to defend titles. However the most interesting development will be something we all love to talk about: the weather – 2 to 4 inches of snow are expected on the course by Saturday morning. This will definitely make the later races more… exciting. Best of luck racers!
“High-performance folding” isn’t a combination of words that most cyclists would use; unless, they’ve ridden a Brompton. I was surprised by the positive feel, speed, and climbing ability of a bike that fits in an airplane overhead comparment. To see how Brompton builds their bikes, I toured the factory outside of London and learned much about a bike that’s in a constant state of engineering — for over 20 years.
Brompton is probably the most purpose-built bike I’ve ridden, with every component focused on being a folder. Brompton goes as far as having the hubs and derailleurs and tensioners built for them. A gear-head will probably pause at the fact that the bikes aren’t spec’d with a high-end group, but the ride reveals why. I didn’t expect a 2-speed drivetrain to handle climbing and the flats, but it did with a very solid and crisp feel. The shifter isn’t pretty, but perfect for urban assaults, and the commute. While other folding bikes are built to cruise around town, the Brompton expects you’re going to accelerate past a double-decker bus, up a riser, and blast down a bike path.
Riding with Brompton’s tech specialist, Rory Ferguson, I hopped curbs, pounded over speed bumps, and wasn’t afraid to stand up and go. The 16-inch wheels contibute to the positive feel and are very agile.
At the high-end of the folding bike price range, Bromptons are totally bespoke. Each one is built to your spec, hand brazed, and assembled. I brought the S2L-Xback from London and testing it now. It’s an iron-hinged (white heart cast iron), steel frame with a titanium fork, rear-triangle, and seat post. I’ve ridden full-sized bikes that weren’t 1/2 as stiff. For longer rides, a tourist would want to look at the different models. The S2L-X is a more aggressive position.
I certainly appreciate Brompton’s approach to industrial design. I’d also like to see more refinenement in the aesthetic of the bike — like knocking another 1/2 pound or so with a nicer crank and the one folding pedal is thick and a bit awkward (you only need one pedal to fold). The next engineering phase may fast-forward the Brompton to a sleeker, more rounded, less chunky design (probably not, because it works so damn well!).
I’ll spend more time with the Brompton and report, as well as podcast from the factory tour. The bike has already earned a place in the garage next to the Dahon and Modal.
Bromptons cost about $1200.00, are available worldwide, and from your local Independent Bike Dealer. They’ve got a loyal and passionate following that gathers once a year to race!
As you know, we followed the Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge on its maiden voyage. We liked their message, more bikes, less cars and increasing knowledge as to what is our personal œrideable universe. They almost got run over by Bill Clinton’s security detail, met some zany bike characters (which is part of the reason we do what we do right?) and spread the word that riding, riding and more riding is the way to go. In Huggacast Episode Nineteen, we recap, you listen.
Rode with the commuters and messengers this morning. Talked with several commuters about their ride and all of them were quite proud of the London Cycling Campaign and noted how much it had changed in the past 3 years.
I don’t doubt there’s still much work to do … other cyclists offered help. With the roundabouts, one-way streets, and traffic, I was lost and that was obvious. I rode along the Mall, Hyde Park, and more.