Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Attraction

For a number of years I've admired a handful of bike models. And like a true aficionado, of course, they are not bicycles I currently own. Nor are the picks exactly similar either, so it's really confounding what I find especially alluring about these four styles.

1. Raleigh One-Way
2. Breezer Uptown LS series (upper right)
3. Jamis Commuter
4. Betty Foy (lower right)

I used to think that all were bikes with great utility, resembling a mountain bike in some form. In other words, they'd make great commuters, which after looking at the grid above you easily could see that's true. Each example could be outfitted to ride to work or haul groceries. In fact, there are endless bikes that would fit the mold. So it must be more than that, I think.

Raleigh One Way, Photo credit: Raleigh Bicycles
The above iteration of the Raleigh One Way certainly doesn't fit my idea of a practical commuter. One speed bikes are not ideal for hilly Burlington, yet I'm repeatedly drawn to this machine. And, to be fair, I've seen this bike with a front rack and upright handlebars, which adds more functionality. After checking out the Raleigh website, and admiring a few more models, I believe it's the simple, and beautifully retro paint scheme that does it for me.

Case in point:
Raleigh Port Townsend, Photo credit: Raleigh Bicycles
Like the One-Way, the Port Townsend is black—my least favorite color—yet I still find it irresistible. Sweet front rack, too. Single gear or multi-gear, I'm in love.

Raleigh Clubman Mixte, Photo credit: Raleigh Bicycles
Even the Clubman Mixte is appealing in boring white. I'm definitely smitten with Raleigh's paint job, plus fenders, and leather toe straps with clips that round out the overall retro look.

Uptown 8 LS in Gloss Port Wine, Photo credit: Breezer Bikes
Uptown Fleet LS in Gloss Silver Slate, Photo credit: Breezer Bikes
And it's not only the thin steel-tubing frame that has its appeal. The Breezer line is based on fatter aluminum frames with chromoly fork. I'm attracted to their Uptown step-through models. I like the upright style, the complimentary fenders, the nice-looking chain guard. And, you can get internally geared options and lighting. All models come with a rack. There's something about the short bracing above the crank that not only, I presume, provides frame strength, but visually enhances the stylish curve, similar to a loop frame bike. I also like the 26" wide wheels, testament to Joe Breezer's roots in mountain bikes. I'm pleased they are once again offering sporty colors, though I'd like to see kelly green and orange added for more variety.

Jamis Commuter 1, Photo credit: Jamis Bikes
Jamis Commuter 1 step-over, Photo credit: Jamis Bikes
I normally shy away from sloping top tube models. It's more difficult to fit fenders, racks, and have ample space for large water bottles—not to mention two containers. But that's because I usually compare these models to my Trek or my husband's Bridgestones—older mountain bikes that we've adapted for touring. When I throw out that line of thinking and study the Jamis Commuter bicycles with an eye towards style and function, I now understand why I admire this bike. It comes equipped with rack, fenders, easy grip shifting, a simple front crank shield, and larger wheels for zippy commutes. With it's seemingly longer wheel base, it looks like a comfortable ride. The sloping frames are common around Burlington, sold at nearby shops. I definitely prefer this to the step-over model, for style. Jamis offers 4 models in their commuter line, a testament to the growing popularity of bikes for the commuting masses.

LGRAB's Betty Foy. Photo credit: Let's Go Ride a Bike
I like that the Betty Foy fits taller women. With my 5'8" leggy height, it's the one caveat with my current step through bike—the Ross's 19" frame is a tad small. I'm not especially tall compared with many women, but older step-over mountain bikes were not made to fit comfortably for longer rides. The Betty Foy is designed for a broad spectrum, and because it's made in the U.S. you can build it with components of your choosing for a proper fit. I love the color. Much like the Bianchi mint green that is a recognizable brand, aqua defines the Betty Foy. But make no mistake, this is a well-built bike too, one of many Rivendell signature styles. I especially like its Mixte style, swept back bars, ability to handle beefy tires. Racks and mustache bars are a must on a Betty Foy of my choosing, plus cream Schwalbe tires.

What do all these have in common?
In retrospect, all these bikes are equipped with racks, fenders, wider tires—my preference for sure. It's not a major revelation, but it's the style of each that time and time again I come back to. Each of these models—and in many cases more than one from the same brand—has panache that speaks to me. I presume my impressions would change, if I ever jump on for a ride, but it's an interesting concept to ponder. With so many designs to choose from, initial responses are very important and hold the power to sway multitudes.

Are there certain bicycles that captivate your psyche?

2 comments:

  1. I have to admit, you're spot-on with the Raleigh paint jobs. I also find them very attractive. I haven't figured out what it is about them . . . perhaps the colors themselves or how they are contrasted with the bands around the tubes.

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  2. Oh my yes. Even though I don't really "need" any more bikes, there's a list in my head of certain models that if they came up on Craigslist and they were reasonably priced (and they fit me), I'd get them. I'm thinking Raleigh Portage and any Bridgestone XO series (well, maybe not the bottom of the series) as two examples off the top o' my head.

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