It all started many years ago, back in the 1980′s. My father thought it was about time to buy me my first real bicycle.
Before that I had all sorts of old and used ones. My brother’s orange Crescent kid bicycle, a co-worker to my mother, her old DBS with the special 2 gear “pedal backwards to shift gear” system. My grandfathers old Monark from the 40′s that he was not using any more. The neighbours old mini folding bicycle that was going to be thrown away. Always old ones that where used, abused and worn.
But now the time was to get a new one. A racer, with a low handlebars and 10 gears! Then the day came when I got it. It was a silver racing bicycle, looking so great, a real beauty!
I used it a lot, really, every day. On that one I started to ride a bicycle in a way that the pros did. For example standing up in the hills and leaning the bicycle from side to side when having a good tempo up. Sadly this racer was not of a known or well made brand, more of a product of a mass production in a far away place where the quality was not a top issue among the inspectors. The problems started to pop up, as when the break wire snapped in a ride in great speed downhill once. That was a fun experience! After that I had only one hand break left for a long while. Didn’t find a replacement wire. So along I went with one break. Great fun in rain!….
Another interesting thing was when I used the hill climb style I mentioned before. When the chain skipped some cogs and slipped between the cogs and spokes. Making the pedals spin. That is not a good thing while standing up using all your power in the cranks and having a men’s frame. Oh, the pain.
One day while going down a hill, I was turning into a side street as I had done many times on my way to work. But this day the front wheel decided not to be a part of it any more. In the middle of the turn it simply went soft and folded it self. As result I went along in a straight line with a silly look on my face, doing my best impression of a torpedo launch. The bicycle went to the left and crashed in a pile of twisted parts. After I recoverd from the crash a few minutes later. The bicycle was put behind a trash bin close by. Later that evening, my father, a man of action, said it could be fixed. But I told him the wheel had folded and it was no use to try to fix it. “No no, we can straight it out”.
He changed his mind after seeing the wheel. “That bicycle belongs on a scrap yard”, was his only words.
After that I had a old Swedish army bicycle, bought from the army surplus. It was green and was complete with hay stuck in the wheels. That one broke one of it’s pedal cranks in a up hill (real pain again) as mentioned above. My mothers old bicycle wreck that I got from her, got stolen. I still cant understand how the person who stole it did manage to get it away! It was a complete wreck It didn’t work at all.
After that, I bought a old Panther from the 1940′s. Best bicycle I ever had. I fixed it up with parts from that era, lights, bell, dynamo. I mounted my grandfathers old Double spring saddle from 1930′s, real comfort. It was a good one, only fault was that it was a 26″ wheel size. A tad to small for me so I hurt my knees riding it. I sold it to a co-worker, she is very happy with it (I kept the saddle).
Now what to get for me? I am into this old look style, “reto”. So I started to search the internet and found a bike that is just like the old English roadsters from the 1930′s. That is just the one for me! A Flying Pigeon. Made in China! I bought it from an ad on the internet.
Ok, first of all. I am not against things made in China. But this bicycle is one of the worst I have ever used. The list of things that is no good is to long to mention. So I will only take a few small things. The break pads where lost the first ride, the flimsy breaking rods where, way to flimsy when breaking firmly they bended. The chain guard fall to pieces, the saddle mount was not made properly so it couldn’t be mounted in a good way. The material (iron) in bolts and other details where to soft. I broke the saddle bolt the first thing (and I am very careful tightening nuts and bolts). It just sapped right off!
The worst parts where the wheels, really poorly made. Wobbly, no clearance when rolling. Something somewhere is breaking, feels like a bearing or two is not in place. When tilting the bicycle and putting the foot on the pedal, the back wheel is bending!! The front fork, well there is an adventure. I have never been afraid of riding a bicycle until this one. The front fork is made in a really odd design, with really minimal welding joints. Really scary!
No, that one is going to the dust bin soon. In parts! I may keep the mudguards, at least they are nice.
So what to get? There is lots and lots of bicycles today, we have Swedish made “retro” ones, we have the English Pashely, one of the original roadsters. After all, riding a bicycle in the summer evening. Feeling the wind in the face, smell the air. Hearing the sounds of nature and the gentle sound of the tires against the road.
That is a great feeling and I miss it…