Robin Mather

Steel is Cool though many will not understand this obsession with bicycles

Sat in my hallway is a nice (old) Gazelle Reynolds framed road-bike. Elsewhere there is an even older Dawes Super-Galaxy, again Renyolds framed, this one with a Brooks saddle. There is also an old-school Diamondback BMX.

I like bikes, I like them a lot, preferably steel, or titanium, and they don’t need to be too new either. For me a simple bike is a thing of beauty that combines engineering, design and minimalism.

Cinelli Track Bike

Cinelli Track Bike

As a teacher I used to do a design lesson where I showed pupils pictures of things I liked the design of; Guzzis, Porsches, Minis, Trangia cookers… The common link was design. I knew I was getting through when a Year 9 girl saw the Cinelli track bike (shown) and said “that’s dead sexy that is”. She meant it, she was correct too.

I love going to London in part because of the cycling scene there. Twenty (plus) years ago, as a student, I was a cycle courier, I guess it was a relatively new thing then. At the time I rode a mix of bikes: Rory O’Brien, Holdsworth, Ellis-Briggs and latterly an early Ridgeback. Sadly in the first week I crashed the Ellis Briggs, I rode into the back of a Ford Granada stopped outside Kings Cross station. I ended up lying on the guy’s boot and can still remember the look of surprise as he looked in his rear view mirror, fortunately he had checked before diving away with me there. The frame needed re-building and I had the pleasure of using Tom Board who was at the time making Paris cycles, this honour made the accident almost worthwhile.

classic-fixed-gear-road-bike-blue-boy-by-forty-one-thirty

The London scene is vibrant and organic. Recently we have sat outside pubs in Islington and watched as cycle polo teams have returned en-masse riding a selection of unique machines. On one occasion I was almost tempted to pull the classic Bob Jackson from the pile to protect it from damage. There is a range of styles and approaches but, once again, steel is king, whether it is an original or a fixie, and, if it is adorned by leather and a bit of canvas then so much the better.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the recreations from the re-builds not that this is an issue. There are a number of boutique dealers such as Tokyo Fixed in Soho where you are likely to find all manner of classic machinery.
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