Sunday, 9 October 2011
I See Dead People...
1964 Triumph from beyond the grave
I like roadsters. Not exclusively. But I like 'em.
I can't help liking them.
I like them old. I like them new.
Well, new-ish; 1986 is probably my cut-off point.
We could go into a discourse into why - maybe chewing over the mountain bike's excorable influence on marketing departments, or maybe spinning off tangentially about Neo-Liberalism, Acid House, The Smiths, or the managed decline of British manufacturing. But we won't... Because, I'm pacing myself.
I like Roadsters because they're honest.
An old roadster doesn't try to sell you something that it can't fulfill. Not like some shitty modern budget bike that mugs punters with front and back suspension for under £150.
The upshot being a sloppy cake-walk that takes more effort to get to the shops for a loaf of bread than it does walking. Which is roughly the antithesis of a bicycle's raison d'etre.
But this isn't about money, it's about value.
I've bought roadsters for £3.50 from charity shops - cheaper than a return ticket on the bus into town. I've run them for months - sometimes years without changing the tyres they came with, and never doing repairs. Because - for the large part - I couldn't do repairs. Or didn't need to, I can't really remember which.
A few years back, I had some work in London. Shit work - long hours, but laughingly well paid. I was travelling down on the train, but I was broke thus didn't want to be pissing cash away on public transport - so I took the algae-green, step-though, Ladies' Hercules commuter that I'd got for the afforementioned £3.50.
And that was me; from late Sunday night to Friday 6pm when I was on the train back to the family in Morecambe, zipping about at all hours on my £3.50 three-speed.
It was the ultimate urban tool; expendable and dependable. I'd leave it anywhere chained up with my cheap lock - safe in the knowledge that I didn't actually give a fuck if it wasn't there when I returned. (Being essentially un-nickable, it always was).
Near the end of my third week, I was riding back to the council estate in Stockwell where I was staying, when a car broadsided me. I went over the bonnet and through the windscreen, before being dumped off the other side and onto the curb.
The car had jumped a queue to turn right - an insane move that cut right across my path. The tool driving tried to drive off - shattered windscreen and all - but I chased them down on foot, opened the door, and pulled the keys out of the ignition. It quickly developed into a very shitty scene.
The Old Bill showed up and the situation eventually got tidied up, but my bike was a write-off. The front forks were like knotweed - but rather them than my legs. I made it into work next day, Friday - but that was definitely me and my London venture for a while.
Back at home, the word quickly got round about my spill. A great lady from the charity shop came round to say a bike had just been donated - a Triumph Traffic Master, step-through again, but bigger frame and mint in Champagne and bronze. Perfect. Except they charged me a tenner.
Bleedin' ambulance Chasers...