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.

Left part of label on Folder

Right part of label on Folder

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.

4 comments on “Chopping and Folding”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    I had a shiny orange Chopper for Xmas when I was 10. It arrived a long time before Xmas for some reason and sat in the hall wrapped up in cardboard. I was under strict instructions not to touch it until Xmas but whenever my parents were out I would remove most of the cardboard and ride it up and down the hall, wrapping it all up again before they got back. It never really lived up to its shiny promise under the cardboard. I was undoubtedly the coolest kid on the street that Xmas but it didn't ride any better than the Triang Folderbike that it replaced. Worse actually! As soon as the shops reopened I bought it special lights- the rear light had a seperate battery unit connected to the light by a cable. 'Chapeau' to Mick for his E2E, I never got beyond about 10 miles on mine. They didn't stay cool for long somehow. By the time I was 14 I was begging my parents for something more ordinary looking that would actually go places. I got a yellow Puch Touring 3 speed ladies roadster and caught the cycling bug. It was soon fitted with dropped handle bars, narrow saddle and rat trap pedals and I rode my first Century on it. As a student I bought my first 'proper' 10 speed and sold the Puch to a friend of my mum's who promptly refitted flat bars, wide saddle and rubber pedals. Happy days! :)

  2. Garry wrote:

    The label reads...

    Guided by the thought of Chairman Mao this bicycle was produced in the Chuntang People's Bicycle Factory for the imperialist running dog Uk market, or something like that!

  3. Alan wrote:

    The pedals have the following embossed, in English, sort of:

    Atten tioh!
    When folding.fingers to
    Which two sides of peda!

  4. Sarah wrote:

    Very late, but if you still want it, the rough translation is as follows:

    The yellow part of the label reads "Share sunshine peace happiness"
    The black part of the label reads "Safety reminder:
    before riding, please lock tightly individual components' quick release
    Strictly prohibited from exceeding safety line"

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