Category Archives: Bike Spotting

Bike Spotting: Madeleine’s Raleigh Twenty Folder

Before there were Brompton or Dahon or Bike Friday folding bikes, there was the Raleigh Twenty, manufactured from the late 1960s to the early 1980s in the UK. Like its modern counterparts, the Twenty was a hit with bike tourists and commuters combining a bike trip with a train, bus or airplane ride. Like vintage cars, there are active fan sites for the Raleigh Twenty. Sheldon Brown even owned one. That’s how bike geek cool they are.

But that’s not why Madeleine bought her Raleigh Twenty. It was simply a good deal on a basic bike to ride around San Francisco, and it came with the luxury of traveling under the radar of bike thieves. When her other bike was snatched cruelly from a bike rack, the thief left her Raleigh Twenty beside it resting in peace.


Heavier than its modern counterparts with larger 20″ wheels, and sporting just three gears in its Sturmey Archer hub, you’d think it wouldn’t be the best choice for hilly San Francisco. But Madeleine loves climbing and her little coffee-brown Raleigh Twenty powers her up the steep grades just fine.

Location: Ferry Building Plaza, San Francisco, California, USA.

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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Bike Spotting, Cycle Fashions


Bike Spotting: Real Men Ride Pink Road Bikes

I spotted the ice pink vintage road bike on Caltrain, obviously too large and too old to be designed for women. “Who owns the pink bike?” I asked the group behind me. “It’s mine,” said Dean.

Dean’s no girly man, nor is his 1987 Schwinn Prelude a girly bike, as you can see in his feat of strength outside the station. Dean’s lovely pink bike was built lightweight for racing speed, and with a 25″ frame, built for a rider well over six feet tall. That’s 63.5 cm for you folks too young to remember when road bikes were measured in inches. In 1987, Schwinn still made their bikes at their headquarters in Chicago, you see.

Real Men Ride Pink Bikes

Dean isn’t the only manly guy I know who rides a pink road bike. There’s Ron who has a 1991 Diamond Back Master TG bike in a far less demure shade of pink. I found many others, like this 1972 Sekine, this La France, this Miami Vice inspired Centurion and these two by Francesco Moser. Lovely, lovely, manly pink bikes.

1987 Schwinn Prelude 25"

Location: Caltrain Diridon Station, San Jose, California, USA.


Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Bike Spotting: The Intuit-ive Way to Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share may be gearing up for its launch next month, but I’m seeing little reminders that bike sharing isn’t exactly new here in Silicon Valley. Like this lovely blue Dutch-style bike that’s been parked at the Mountain View Caltrain station for the past few days. A quick glance at the chain guard gives away as a campus bike for Intuit, the software company that brought you Quicken and TurboTax.

Campus bikes are perfect for company sites that grow so big that walking between buildings is tedious but driving is silly. With 1800 employees at their bayside campus, Intuit is much smaller than its neighbor Google who has higher-profile bike sharing program. Like the Google bikes, Intuit bikes are built tough and practical for short trips by Republic Bikes. And like the Google bikes, they sometimes show up far from campus. I guess what’s good for getting across campus is good for getting across town. Good thing there aren’t any late fees.

Intuit Bike

Republic Bikes specializes in sturdy fleet bikes that can be easily and colorfully customized for your business.

Location: Downtown Mountain View Caltrain Station, Evelyn Avenue near Castro Street.

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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Bike Spotting: Handmade in Bamboo—by You?

The beauty and creative spirit of handmade bicycles draw thousands of bike geeks like me to the shows like the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in cities like Austin and Sacramento. But for some bike geeks, admiring the handcrafted work of others isn’t enough. They need to make one for themselves.

If you are one of these Makers, you should know that in one weekend you can build your own bicycle frame–out of bamboo. Like Brad did at the Bamboo Bike Studio in San Francisco last year. I met Brad on my evening commute on Caltrain where he gave me the quick run-down. In two days he built his single speed for about $800, which included everything: bamboo and resin for the frame plus a fork, drivetrain, handlebars and wheels.

I was impressed by Brad’s work. Being built in two days work by a novice, it’s not the finely-crafted precision machine of a Calfee or Boo Bicycles bike, but it looks sharp and feels solid. And most importantly, Brad’s handmade bamboo bike has served him well for over a year as a daily commuter to his job at the Tech Shop in San Jose, a place where Makers like him can build almost anything their minds can imagine.

Have you ever dreamed of making, or actually built, a bicycle? If not a bicycle, what would you make?

Location: Bicycle car on the Caltrain commuter railway, San Jose-Sunnyvale, California, USA


Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Bike Spotting: ElliptiGO Everywhere

A couple of hot Saturdays ago as I struggled to turn the pedals on the climb up Old La Honda Road, I heard a strange whirring sound behind me. I looked back and saw two men in matching t-shirts pumping away on matching machines. As they passed I thought: “What are those things?” and “Man, I’m really dragging today.”

Fortunately, they were still at the top when I arrived so I got a closer look. The ElliptiGO is what happens when exercise equipment escapes the gym and hits the open road. The riders said it gives then the intense workout of running without the impact on the knees. Given my struggle on the hill that day, I’m sticking with my bike.

If you want to try an ElliptiGO for yourself, Sports Basement in the Presidio in San Francisco rents them for $25 for three hours. And there are plenty of hills and a famous bridge nearby to challenge yourself.

Location: Top of Old La Honda Road, Woodside, California, USA


Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Bike Spotting: Whizzer Motorbike

It’s a bike! It’s a motorcycle! No, it’s a motorbike! This Whizzer motorbike caught my eye outside Walt’s Cycle in Sunnyvale. I was perplexed: the pedals and chain are clearly driving the rear wheel, as are the gas motor and belt. Is a motorbike pedal-assisted like a moped? Or are the pedals just used to start the motor?

An internet search revealed that Whizzer got its start in the late 1930s and had to petition Congress to continue production through World War II. Sales took off after the war, selling hundreds of thousands of motorbikes until they shut down operations in 1965. In 1998, the Whizzer brand was revived with reproductions like this one.

But I’m still perplexed about how they work. If you know, please enlighten me…

This Whizzer may be a reproduction less than 10 years old, but it could have fooled me.

Location: Walt’s Cycles, Sunnyvale, California, USA

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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting

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