It’s such a traditional Christmas gift that it’s almost a cliche: the new bike. I don’t remember ever waking up to find a bike under the Christmas tree, but I do remember that one year my father repainted my older sister’s outgrown bike and updated it just for me. Off came the 1960′s style handlebars and saddle and on went Stingray handlebars and a banana seat with bold flowers and a sissy bar. I was very excited to have a girly bike with the latest style.
As an adult, I appreciate even more that my father took the time to not only paint the frame and upgrade the worn parts, but to choose fashionable accessories for me. My dad is more of a “function over style” kind of guy. There were many crudely but effectively repaired items around our house to attest for his skill. I don’t have a photo of the bike, but it resembled this one I found on Craigslist, except that mine was hand painted blue and had long handlebar tassels. But the saddle is identical to mine. Isn’t it groovy?
This year I didn’t get a bike for Christmas, but I was lucky enough to have one of my bikes become someone else’s Christmas bike. A friend-of-a-friend was looking for a good used mountain bike for his girlfriend, so I sold him my carbon-framed full-suspension 2007 Trek Fuel 9.8 race bike. After I bought Scarlet, my Ibis Mojo, in 2009, the Trek was pushed into a corner of my garage and ignored. She never even got a name or a bike portrait, even though she got me on the podium at Sea Otter in 2008.
With the extra cash from selling the Trek and the extra garage space now available, I was hoping to buy Dick a new bike for Christmas. Ever since we got back from London, he had been eyeing the Pashley Roadster Sovereign, a classic English city bike with a relaxed, upright geometry in a lugged steel frame, a leather sprung Brooks saddle, a full chain guard, hub-generated lights and a sturdy rack. On Christmas Eve, we went down to A Street Bike Named Desire and took a test ride.
For all its good looks and great details, something about the Pashley’s geometry/sizing didn’t work for him. It seemed like a combination of its high bottom bracket and his preference for full leg extension made the seat feel awkwardly high, especially when stopping and starting. Disappointing.
Both Dan and Joe, the dad-and-son shop owners, recommended the Pilen, a bike made by a small manufacturer in Sweden. From the big smile spread across his face during the test ride, I could tell that Dick liked the feel of the Pilen much better.
Dick also liked the the Pilen’s components, accessories and the color choices, but he wasn’t ready to commit. He wants to test ride more city bikes, like Gazelles and WorkCycles from the Netherlands. But I have a feeling we’ll be back for the Pilen.
If you were to add another bike to your stable what would it be? Would it replace an existing bike or would it be yet another bike to ride?