Chopping and Folding
The CTC has a handy guide to help me distinguish between trekkers, tourers, audaxes and other marketing terms. Roadsters are now called "city bikes" and racers are now called "road bikes", in much the same confusing way that crossbars are now called "top tubes". I need to learn this new language so my LBS can understand me. LBS? I learnt that one only this year: Local Bike Shop.
When I was a lad we didn't have such a variety of bikes. We could have small wheels or big wheels, with straight or bent or drop bars, and that was about it. My successive bikes were both red with big wheels and Sturmey Archer three-speed. The first had bent bars and rod brakes; the second had straight bars and caliper brakes. We all knew that proper bikes existed, and some were designed for speed and others for endurance, but we never saw them.
Then I became a teenager and Raleigh came up with the Chopper. My friend Ian was an aspiring biker who looked as though he would grow up to be an weekday accountant and weekend Hell's Angel. Somehow his parents got him one of these wonder machines, an imitation motorbike with easy-rider handlebars and a central gear-shift. Wow. And it was shiny orange-red, putting my dull red bike to shame. True, we did race a couple of times and I beat him hollow, but that wasn't the point. The Chopper had style by the bucket-load. That was my first case of bike-envy, which I still suffer from.
I later learnt that the Chopper saved Raleigh from extinction, and a pimped-up Chopper can be ridden E2E (by Mick F, a fellow blogger), so it can't be all bad. But I envied Ian and his Chopper and the casual way he rode it, mostly with both feet on the ground.
My mother disapproved of drop bars on the grounds that they made you go too fast, so when I moved out of home to a job for the railways in York, I bought my first drop-bar bike. I painted it badly in blue and yellow stripes to discourage thieves, but that didn't stop them nicking my lights or filling my lock with chewing gum.
I've already mentioned Brown Bike and Ruby Bike.
My broken hip has kept me off either one so I've been reduced to drooling over internet bike porn. It's no substitute, but it feeds the imagination. My current dream bike is a folding recumbent tadpole with electric assist, weighing less than 10kg and costing under a grand. Oh, and the battery would last forever.
Back in the real world, I needed a folder I could take on buses. I splashed out on a lumpy Chinese object; I know it's Chinese because it has a Chinese label where a head badge might be. If anyone can translate, I'd love to know what it says. Folder is white so I can paint it, more artistically this time. It has small wheels and rear suspension in the form of a bright red spring. And the bars are somewhat easy-rider. It will be a slow machine. I could remove the saddle and seatpost, sit on the rack, lean forward and almost pretend it was a Chopper. The gear shift isn't central, but it twists on the bars, almost like a motor bike throttle.
I believe it will be better than Ian's Chopper. At long last, I will resolve that particular envy.