Old Smoke: The genus of Yalda’s bike

Last week I had to go to London for a meeting, in the city the air was thick with pollen and dust and the sun was baking. I was carried by foot from Waterloo to St James’ Park caught up in the flow of a mass of humanity from all over the world. The traffic was angry, buzzing, beeping, inching forwards, bullying. But in betwen the trapped motorists there flew other road users. They flitted easily between the stranded vehicles, weaving around bewildered and heat-struck pedestrians and away towards their destinations.

The jacket must come off in this weather, I love the braces

Savoring a moments gap in the traffic. The jacket must come off in this weather, I love the braces

Everywhere, bikes were outside shops, chained to railings. A lot of fixies, they’re still in fashion.

Here’s an interesting bike I saw outside borders (not a fixie):

Bike outside borders, note the loose bartape

Bike outside borders, note the loose bartape

Decal details

Decal details

Finally, here is a picture of Yalda’s bike. Yalda works for The Prince’s Rainforests Project (and I urge you to add your name to the call to end rainforest destruction here) and rides her bike into work. Often she must put up with blinkered mockery of the age of her bicycle, no doubt perpetrated by riders of more modern conveyances. Some of them may even use gears!

Does anyone know which vintage Raleigh bike Yalda rides?

Does anyone know which vintage Raleigh bike Yalda rides?

Yes that’s right, Yalda rides singlespeed (but not fixed) and scorns the use of gears, claiming that they are ‘new-fangled’. Much of the componentry has been replaced, but it still has the classic Raleigh Heron cranks, and ‘Handbuilt in England’ on the tubes. Does anyone have any idea as to the model of Yalda’s bike? I think maybe a contessa, but perhaps that’s because it’s the only one I know. Yalda rides it everywhere, and claims that the only thing that gets stolen from it is the plastic bag (for the saddle) when it rains.

Yalda would love to know how old her bike is, if you think you know the model of her bicycle please leave a comment below, or even if you just like her bike, leave an appreciative comment here and give her some ammunition against her faithful steed’s detractors.

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 11:36 pm  Comments (6)  
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Other People’s Bikes

I had to go to London yesterday to attend a meeting. Walking down Fisherton Street on the way to the station in Salisbury I watched an old gentleman pull up to the kerb slightly ahead of me on a clearly much used Roadster. He had his right trouser leg tucked into his sock and was wearing a battered old fedora rather a helmet. He spun the cranks with his foot and rested the pedal against the kerb in the time honoured fashion, before crossing the street and entering the homebrew shop. I made sure he couldn’t see me then furtively took this shot of his lovely bike on my phone.

Nice Roadster on Fisgertons Street, Salisbury.

Nice Roadster on Fisherton Street, Salisbury.

Later on that day, walking through London I came across a nice fixie with Japanese sweet wrappers in place of spokecards. The bike was chained to some railings on Charing Cross Road, just after the intersection with Shaftesbury Avenue. I slipped off a couple of pictures, but again very furtively (and the focus was appalling).

Sweetie wrappers for spokecards, Charing Cross Road

Sweetie wrappers for spokecards, Charing Cross Road

I don’t know why I feel worried about photographing other people’s bikes. Maybe the bicycle is such a personal thing that in some level it might be conceived as an invasion of privacy. The relationship between cyclist and bicycle is a curious and intimate one, the bike has no power of its own and can only go as fast as its rider can push it. Each bicycle has its own interface with the rider, on my road bike I feel the slightest movement from me, a gentle leaning to the right, and the bike follows. On my Mountain Bike, it’s like steering a shire horse, on the slopes I must lean and pull to point the wheels where I want to go, there is an element of the bike choosing the line for me.

I have many, many of these voyeuristic pics of other people’s bikes, and each bike seems to have its own narrative built into it, whether that is through tyre choice, the saddle, the bags attached, the choice of grips, decals… Perhaps I should post a few, what do you think?

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 5:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Bicycles of London

Tight fit, even for a Brompton

I had a meeting in London today, afterwards I chose to walk to the station. On the way I started snapping bikes and cyclists on my phone, with an idea that I would surreptitiously try to photograph every bike I saw. It didn’t quite work out that way as cyclists were coming left right and center, but I got 114 pictures. Here is the edited down selection.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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