Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An American Bicycle

 A man brought in this 1950s Columbia for us to pack so he can ship it to someone who bought it from him on eBay. He has brought in reproductions before, but never the real item.
 This type of bike has never interested me except as a historical curiosity.
 I love the suspension fork.
Then there's the headlight

The Delta Super Rocket Ray: guaranteed to make the owner of this bike the second largest purchaser of D-size batteries in the country. I'm not sure who would be the largest purchaser of D batteries, but I tend to reserve the top spot because there's always something greater.

 FIVE Star Superb.

 Place tushie here
Place friend here.
 Adios! Admire my mud flap.

This bike sums up the American attitude toward pedal powered transportation pretty well: it's gaudy, impractical, and you'll only want to ride it a short distance. It's built like a 1950s car. The sheet metal is a gauge never seen on later Muffies. Mufolumbias, actually. The paint, the chrome and the machining show care and investment that also had diminished by the next decade and disappeared in the decade after that. When better bikes were built in this country they borrowed from European designs. Meanwhile the old-school American method rolled on with Huffy, Columbia and Murray. Schwinn had their own twist on it.

While I was down in the back parking lot doing this photo shoot, two brothers on Surly Long Haul Truckers came in the other door to see if we could take care of a minor shifting issue on one of the bikes. The older brother, Scott, couldn't get the indexing to work even though the barcon shifter still clicked. The shifter can be switched to friction. Sometimes the switch gets bumped just enough to move it from the index position. It still clicks but the clicks don't line up with the gears.

Younger brother Jim keeps his shifters in friction. Scott said he would practice that. Meanwhile, we got the shifter working so they could continue their tour. I may see them on my commute this morning. Their route comes up this way.


Steve A said...

While I wouldn't want to ride it, I can still appreciate it just as I can appreciate big tailfins on a car.

RANTWICK said...

I like it very much, but like Steve does... nice to look at.

kfg said...

I'm not much into the fake motorcycle full dress tankers, but in their stripped down middleweight form I've actually rather taken to these American bikes.

I don't find that they give up much of anything on their equivalent euro bikes, they're easier to maintain and around town or out on the MUP I'm still one of the fastest things out there.

When I'm in a sportier mood and convert to a "28er" (700x35 fixed) I've surprised more than one roadie by cruising up on them and then proving the things can climb.

Now I ain't sayin' that I'm ready to entertain offers on the Quickbeam or anything, just that under all the dress up dreck there might be more bike there than you suspect.

cafiend said...

I would have liked to take a spin on it but the tires (original) were very rotted and bulging off the rims. It was going to a collector, so I did not want to risk damaging a piece of history. Incidentally, I received relayed compliments on my packing job. The collector said the bike was packed better than any he had ever received. Apparently he has 1951 through '57 versions of this bike and lacked only this 1950.