|I ordered a Rivendell Clementine! Photo credit: Rivendell Bicycles|
As a couple we are pretty low-key when it comes to bikes. We ride older, functional, and sturdy mountain bikes that pre-date shocks, appreciating that era of bike simplicity - not a conscious choice per se, but it just happens to be the type of bikes my husband and I toured on in the 1980s and 1990s, and we've kept them going ever since. We are comfortable adjusting cantilever brakes, replacing cables, threading through thumbshifters, wiping chains and rims, and pedaling with toe clips. Aluminum Blackburn racks have held up well and are still going strong. We like wider rims that accommodate 1.5-2" tires and value their sturdy stance on bike path, sidewalks, dirt trails, and debris strewn roadsides.
My husband is comfortable with his current stable of bikes: a 1992 Bridgestone MB-3 and a 1986 MB-2, whereas I've thought long and hard about whether my current Trek 830 Antelope will be my go-to choice as I get older. In recent years I've appreciated the upright step-through style of my commuter Ross Mt. Saint Helens which has seriously made me consider this bike style as a primary option for my later years. I've pondered a marriage between the two styles (and best qualities of both) in The Ideal Bicycle a process that further helped me define what I wanted. Always on the lookout for an older bicycle, the awakening came when I realized I couldn't acquire an older step-through frame in a large enough size. It was shortly after this revelation that I began following Rivendell's fleet of Mixtes with more interest; Betty Foy and Cheviot. However, I would not compromise what I really wanted, only to settle for their mixte's high step-over height (not to mention I couldn't swallow spending what I consider an exorbitant amount of money these models fetch).
Over the past year, I've pondered what I love about older bikes vs. newer bikes.
Older bikes advantages:
- sturdy frame
- frame clearance for 26" tires and fenders
- Schraeder rims (in my opinion, a better alternative to finicky Presta valves)
- Often come with thumb shifters
- adjustable stem bolts to easier swap out handle bars to fine tune bike fit
- updated V- or disc brakes for quicker stopping power
- Shiny new paint!
- In most cases, a lighter weight frame
- a frame size that might fit
As an aside, Velouria at Lovely Bicycle! has a Clementine in her possession. I am eagerly awaiting her feedback, which I suspect we'll hear before my bicycle arrives.