5 irregular bikes

I have had the pleasure of test riding a few different bikes over the past week or two. Before memories dim, let me share my impressions:

The Vanmoof is a clever idea for a top tube, attached to gear you would otherwise have to walk down K-Mart’s bike aisle to see. Don’t be fooled by the Brooks saddle. In any case, this will become your pub bike when the lights break, whereupon you’ll loose that saddle to thieves. Very disappointing.

Far more behooving is Electra’s Ticino 20D. This flagship type model boasts a smooth welded aluminium frame, parading as fillet brazed cro-mo, that would cost more to produce, and provide a more comfortable ride. But Aluminium is light! For a full claptrap package—front and rear racks and full mudguards—this bike is as light as they come. It also has bling: leather toe straps, "Electra" embossed everywhere, coiled stainless cable outer, leather washers, and a race worthy 105 drive train. Exquisite stuff, truly. The seat could be a Brooks. The down tube friction shifters are so hard to reach you wont bother. But otherwise, wow! I could clean this bike every weekend for years, and never get bored. This bike has actually raised my expectations of all production bikes in this category. For $2999 though, I would prefer if it had lights.  

From that to the Velorbis Leikier, a bike I have admired in pictures for over a year. The pictures don’t show the very rough welds. Industrial chic? No, just sloppy workmanship actually. It steers a bit like a unicycle, wants to do wheelies, accelerates like a recumbent, but just looks the bomb—from a distance. If you want to be that mysterious man, who mysterious women make notes to talk to sometime, this is your bike. The handlebars are works of art, and for your $2999, you do get lights with this one.

Now on to a box bike, the first one I’ve ever ridden in fact. If like me, you miss feeling misunderstood since you lost your religion, here is your chance to start proselytizing again, for a new maligned cause. Blessed are ye when you are cursed for your faith, as I was by a Falcon driver (wearing a hat!), who blared his horn as he passed me during my test ride. Wear a bright shirt! You will be taking a lane as surely as a team of draft horses while riding this bike, so completely at drivers’ mercy. This first box bike experience of mine was with a Belgian made Achielle brand bike. I’m told this is an old family owned business. They were ghost makers for numerous brands that have since found cheaper frame makers in China. So now Achielle are a brand unto themselves. All those brands who took their business to China did leave something behind though: patterns for every kind of bike known to European mankind, including priest bikes, mixties, omas, and the box bike I’m pictured pretending to ride. Their Australian stockist/importer, Morgans Bicycles in Sydney, occupy an out-of the way showroom in Alexadria, set up more like an Armani factory outlet than a bicycle store. If that pot you tried in Amsterdam is still giving you flashbacks, spin yourself out and call by. You will think you are back there. Every kind of bike you saw chained up at Centraal, is there on display.

Finally, the Hon. Hamish and I had a chance, after many years dreaming of the day, to finally do a few laps on a Strida. The handling really comes into its own below 2 kilometers per hour. Yes, you can ride in circles among pedestrians while waiting for the little green man. Could you be fined? That depends on whether or not such a thing actually classifies as a bicycle. If not, it could accompany you on board trains for no extra fare, and could be ridden on footpaths without a helmet. It would not be worth buying though, without such concessions. Sure, as a talking point maybe, until you get tired of showing people how it clips together with magnets. Yes, very clever.

Thanks to Newfarm Bikes in Brisbane, and Morgans Bicycles and Clarence Street Cyclery in Sydney, for letting me test ride their bikes.

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