Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Bike Weekend!

Sometimes Minh gets an idea stuck in his craw and it won't let up. Something will strike his fancy and then he'll be on Craigslist obsessively until said object is found and acquired.I have often been the grateful beneficiary of this habit and this week was no exception!

Minh had the great idea to take a train trip up to Santa Barbara and get around town on bikes. We've got bikesa single speed and a mountain bike each, but how about new bikes! Ten speeds! This all made complete sense to him so I trusted his inkings and went along with it. Until we checked prices. Santa Barbara in the summertime? Yikes! So we decided to postpone the trip until Autumn but why, why not get the bikes now?

It wasn't my idea so I wasn't sure to begin. I stopped noticing bikes ever since the dirty hipsters started dominating the scene a few years back. Minh gave me a few bikes to look at but nothing struck my facncy as being better than the single-speed I've already got or my Cannondale that can ride over anything. And then a few pages in I saw The Pelican.

I'm calling it The Pelican because I saw a flock of 'em cruising at low altitude on our most recent jaunt down to the dog beach and I never realized how cool they were. They glide around like they own the joint and you're just lucky enough to be in their shadow for a second or two. I respect them and this bike gave me the same feeling. They're kinda similar: they;re not flashy creatures but the'ye cool just the same.

The Pelican is really a Canadian-made 1968 CCM Grand Prix. It's called a Mixte because it's a neato compromise between the durability of a traditional diamond frame and a skirt-friendly low slung lady frame. I'd seen a few examples but the geometry of this one knocked my socks off. It's got a sort of low-rider attitude and one test drive was all it took. Sold.

But this bike is no spring chicken. It's got a fair amount of rust on the chrome but nothing some steel wool and Brasso can't fix easily enough.  There aren't any fancy lugs but the styling is cool enough for me and I like the little ripples in the front fairing. Some new grips, new tires, new pedals, maybe a pannier and a saddle to boot, and it'll be better than new :)

Minh's got a 3-tiered scale when it comes to most things in life: either it's bad, pretty good, or good. Except when it comes to bikes. He's a cycle sommlier, noticing fine lines, geometry, lug shapes, everything I don't. So my bike had been successfully acquired but that isn't enough to keep Minh from giving Craigslist a few more once-overs before moving on to other things. He establishes habits quickly I guess :) So he comes across an understated ad that basically reads: "old Raleigh, hes been sitting in the garage for years, no rust, locking front fork with key, made in England"  The single picture shows a blue and gold trimmed bike and the seller is asking $125. Minh's got a feeling it's a late 80's model, but the locking front fork and "made in England" remark make him think it's worth investigating.

Oh boy.

He was right.

This bike is sweet. SWEEEET!

Turns out what Minh got was a 1958 Raleigh 3-Speed Superbe. This is the equivalent of getting a Pollock painting at a garage sale. Ok well not that crazy but close. He's been on Cloud 9 and I can't wait to cruise around on some sweet early evening rides.

Once I learn how to take a picture properly, I'm sure you'll agree :)

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