Thursday, August 26, 2010

BSNYC Product Review: Electra Ticino 8D

As many of you are probably aware by now, former President of the United States and avid mountain bike enthusiast George W. Bush has recently gone "29er:"

If only Bush had adopted larger wheels back when he was in office, he totally would have cleared that gnarly second term, and he might even have successfully made it through that highly technical "Iraq" section. (As Gary Fisher will tell you, it's all about the "angle of attack.") Incidentally, the bicycle Bush is about to drape those baggy shorts over is a Niner, and you may remember Chris Sugai of Niner (the guy who isn't George Bush or the other guy in the helmet) as the star of my favorite product-testing video of all time:



Few people know that Sugai was actually a member of Bush's cabinet, and in that capacity was responsible for much of our government's policy during his tenure. Trouble with other countries? Hit them with a hammer! Economy is sluggish? Hit it with a hammer! Hammer-wielding maniac on the loose? Hit him with a hammer! He also engaged Dick Cheney to help test some of those early Niner crabon fork prototypes, though the infamous "shotgun test" was not only unsuccessful but also fatal and Niner quickly removed it from YouTube. (A bit of advice: when Cheney asks, "Hey, can you hold this fork for a second?," don't agree.)

Still, you've got to admire a company willing to literally pound the crap out of its products, and I only wish Gerard Vroomen of Cervelo would do the same instead of producing fashion shows:



Amazingly, despite this display, the full pro team kit has yet to take off as casual wear.

Speaking of getting new bikes and testing things, I recently received a new "test-cycle" in the form of an Electra Ticino 8D:

Since it comes from a "collection" and is represented by a picture of a guy wearing a wool jersey and the sort of hat worn by people who are way too into "craft ales," I knew the Ticino was going to be something special (and by "special" I mean "pretentious"). Incidentally, Electra are well-known for their "Townie" bicycles, which feature that insanely relaxed "flat foot technology" geometry and are ideal for canine "portaging" (or, if you're not from Portland, "schlepping"):

(Woman on Townie schleps dog in Prospect Park, Brooklyn)

Electra also sells those Amsterdam quasi-Dutch bikes, one of which I actually reviewed last year:

(Wasn't I pretty back then?)

The Ticino, however, is something different. Here's how Electra's copy explains it:

Whether you ride every day or go for long journeys on the weekend, the Ticino will handle it in comfort and style. Named for an Italian-influenced area of Switzerland, Ticino's design aesthetic, craftsmanship and frame integrity are inspired by the vintage Randonneur-type bikes once ridden throughout the region. Stylistically, Ticino picks up where bike builders of the '40s and '50s left off with its retro-inspired hubs*, cranksets, chainrings, tourist handlebars, forks, pedals and rims. But this thing is far from a relic. When it coms to performance, the Ticino is decked out with the latest custom Electra components and will hold its own against other sporty rides with fast-rolling 700c wheels, a lightweight frame and a host of drivetrains from single-to 20-speed. All in all, the Ticino is a fine-tuned, smooth-gliding machine that offers a comfort level no longer found in today's twitchy frames. Take your time to study the unique details of each model.

*on Ticino 18D, 20D and LUX models

In other words, it's a mass market version of all those North American Handmade Bicycle Show "Artisan Porteurs" that people who wear wool cycling caps love to ogle, but for people who think "lug" is a synonym for "schlep," Rivendell is where Archie and the gang lived, and who don't know Velo Orange from a Jaffa orange.

Anyway, I got the 8D, which doesn't have the "retro-inspired hubs" and which was fine with me because I couldn't care less what my hubs look like. Here's the way the bike looked when I pulled it out of the box:

And here's how it looked after I assembled it, removed the reflectors, and performed my customary and elaborate pie plate-burning ceremony:


Here's the view other cyclists will have when you're "salmoning" towards them. ("Salmon" love Electras like "Freds" love Treks):

Here's the view other riders will have when you're dropping them--which, let's be honest, isn't going to happen:

And here's the way the Electra Ticino looks when it's waiting to go to the bathroom:

It needs to go so bad its spokes went from 3-cross to 4-cross.

As I mentioned, my Ticino didn't come with the "retro-inspired hubs," but it did come with other "custom Electra components," such as the TA-like (or T-Ain't) cranks:

Rims with a vintage-like Mavic-esque pre-exploding wheel era-inspired sticker:


A quill stem with a little threaded cap to cover the stem bolt:


And faux-leather grips with bar-end brake levers:

Together with the vaguely Brooks-like saddle, skinwall tires, and "hammered" (or hammered look) fenders, the bike will do doubt infuriate Randonnerds, retrogrouches, and the sorts of people who bedeck their bicycles with an airport carousel's worth of canvas luggage, but will simply look really nice to people who don't know what any of that means or who don't really care. By the way, here's the OBBS (or Obligatory Bottom Bracket Shot):

While not "beefy" by James Huangian standards, you may note that the bike uses a single chainring sandwiched by a couple of chainring guards, and that it also includes vibration dampeners on the fenders. Also, the frame is aluminum, which will doubtless have rendered any remaining retrogrouches who have not long since defected to Classic Rendezvous apoplectic.

I, however, am not troubled by the facsimile aspect of the bicycle, and while the aesthetic is a little "precious" for me my first impression was that it's a very nice-looking bike. I also found it very comfortable, thought it handled well, was sensibly geared, and was even light enough for the average "wuss" to carry up and down a few flights of stairs.

But to really test it properly I had to take it "out on the town" in the manner of a typical non-bike dork simply looking to ride a comfortable bicycle from one place to another. Fortunately, fatherhood has already rid me of the extraneous portions of my dignity, and I no longer give much thought to my attire or equipment when mounting a bicycle. So, clad in a pair of homemade "shants," flip-flops, and (my only concession to foppery) a canvas bag from Rivendell, I grabbed the Ticino and set out looking like the miserable aftermath of a collision between "cycle chic" and Mugatu's "Derelicte."

My first thought was that this was a kinder and gentler sort of bicycle than I typically ride, and that it was well-suited for the kinder and gentler urban cycling offered by New York City's new lime green protected bike lanes, onto which I soon steered the Ticino:

Incidentally, you may notice that, way in the distance, there is a woman riding a mountain bike on the sidewalk. Apparently, she was too afraid to ride in the street, yet moments before I took this picture she had ridden right through that intersection against the light and was nearly hit by a car. She had a look of terror on her face the entire time, and it was as if some otherwordly force was compelling her towards death and she was powerless to resist. "Must stop at light...can't stop at light." Here she is about to do it again:

This time she actually manages to cross the intersection diagonally, maximizing her exposure time to oncoming traffic:

Anyway, soon I was in Prospect Park, where I joined my upright-riding brethren:

Note the "epic" quill stem on this Klein:

He has more headset spacers than most people have steer tube.

Shortly afterwards, I passed an excited gentleman who regarded me wide-eyed and shouted, "Is that a Schwinn?" At first I was frightened, thinking it was an enraged Grant Petersen come to tackle me from the Ticino and give it the "hammer test." I soon realized it wasn't, though, and as I passed I answered "No." Crestfallen, he reacted as though I had just called his mother a Schwinn. "Not a Schwinn!?!," he exclaimed. However, I did not have time to explain to him that it was not a Schwinn and was in fact a mass-produced facsimile of the "artisanal" retro-inspired bicycles so popular with the "bike culture" right now, and continued on.

Of course, navigating Prospect Park is one thing; hanging with the "hipsters" of Williamsburg on its eponymous bridge is quite another, and it was with trepidation that I approached its purple girders:


Desperately, I clawed my way up to the trio of "hipsters" ahead of me:


Amazingly, I caught them without breaking my flip-flops:


Arriving in Manhattan, I decided I liked the bike. It was as comfortable as a bike needs to be, but it was in no way sluggish. I did, however, ride cautiously, and when I encountered a Mercedes with a vanity plate reading "Cupper" I kept a safe distance:

I did not relish a run-in with the "cupper," having no idea what it was intended to cup.

By the way, so bike friendly has New York City become that in addition to bike lanes we now have designated folding bike unfurling areas:


However, stoplight match sprints continue unabated:

As does shoaling, and on my way back to Brooklyn I was shoaled repeatedly and violently by a "Beautiful Godzilla" in the 2nd Avenue bike lane:

In any case, as everyday transportation the Ticino performs very well, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't thoroughly enjoyed my time on it--though I'd also be lying if I said I didn't find it a little "precious." (Then again, I am a considerable and dedicated schlub.) It's very comfortable, it has fenders, it's stable yet reasonably quick, and you can carry it up steps. It is not exactly cheap, however, and it retails for about $800--though some dupes actually pay close to that for Flying Pigeons, so I suppose price is relative. Plus, it comes with most of what you'd need apart from a rack. To some extent I suppose it is an affront to the more rarefied corners of cycling, but at the same time it's also a coup for accessibility, and it's nothing if not enticing. And it makes way more sense than a Klein with a flagpole for a quill stem.

100 comments:

Fingerbang Assistant said...

Mashing 53x11!!!!

Anonymous said...

1st?

Fingerbang Assistant said...

1358W!!!!

David Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fingerbang Assistant said...

Off to the doping control tent...

stovtop said...

Yahoooweee 2nd

o'bama said...

last

stovtop said...

okay then.. top ten

I am the cheap engine said...

I dont know why, but I actually like the bike, not so fond of the silly expensive price.

stovtop said...

comment deleted already.. how does that work anyway?

Perry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I am the pissed of about the 8 years of bush engine said...

Oh yea,

Women in spandex, good.

Reminding us about Bush Junior and his bikes, bad.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

No Comment.

hillbilly said...

Good stuff, thanks. Are the bridge girders purple? God, I really do suck at colors.

Jefe said...

I'm not always so free with compliments, but your cycling/foreign policy analysis of the Shrub/43 Presidency is the funniest and most insightful item since Stephen Colbert's White House Correpondents' Dinner speech.

Rantwick said...

Nice review... I like that you don't forget that normal people don't give a damn about retrogrouches and vinatge bikes and all that.

I kind of miss the days when I didn't care about that kind of thing.

Oh, yeah, fatherhood does strip away any prideful or vain ways alright... I wish I could've seen you flip-flopping precious around town.

Gollum said...

Give me back my preciosssss!!!

ervgopwr said...

FUCK BUSH

FLAG STEM

NOTA SHWN

Another solid post. Nice Job FBA.

Rantwick said...

Oh, for those who read my previous post "vinatge bikes" are bikes built specifically to transport wine.

g said...

BUSH BIKE
PRES HUSH
PRPL GRDR


All You Haters Can "Derelict" My Balls.

Nogocyclist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That's funny stuff(and I like W).

TOMMY GUN said...

a "beatiful Godzilla?" What is that, Allen Ginsberg's niece?

Nogocyclist said...

Good review, but there seems to be an obvious question left unanswered. The backward facing brake levers look like a accident waiting to happen.

Using this bike as a daily commuter, how could one avoid eventually hooking something with them?

g said...

Nogo, I fear if you are close enough to hook someone with the brake lever, you've about to run them over and hooking them might be the only thing that keeps them upright.
At least that's how it looks from here.

William H Gass said...

Hmmm

OBA said...

RE: "...it's a mass market version of all those North American Handmade Bicycle Show "Artisan Porteurs" that people who wear wool cycling caps love to ogle, but for people who think "lug" is a synonym for "schlep,"..."

That's some real laser-guided sarcasm.

57 Turds said...

Meh

xyxax said...

No chain rub with the double guard?

ant1 said...

as w, la, and mm would say, hook 'em horns

Octavio Decatur Gass said...

Who the hell is William H. Gass?

Anonymous said...

$800????????????

BikeSnobNYC said...

xyxax,

Nope.

--BSNYC

The Dead Acorn said...

Are you making the spelling switch from "woos" (singular of "woosies") to "wuss?" Lexical shifts such as this should probably be explicitly announced so that we can adjust accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of retro, When are they gonna start reissuing mixte frames with ad layouts showing women riding w a jeans skirt and long flowing Nicolette Larsonesque hair and Dr Scholls shoes w recessed spd cleats?

Neil said...

"They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

mikeweb said...

So 'Cupper' drives a Mercedes? Maybe he/she cleaned up in the athletic 'pants yabbies' protective device racket.

CUPB ALLS

Anonymous said...

It's got Tektro 720 cantis; I like those, they're cheap, light and strong, defying the old adage.

Chris said...

Isn't basing your company name on a wheel size a bit risky? Who knows if 29ers will still be ridden in 5 years. I've nothing against 29ers by the way.

Anonymous said...

Oh, snob-
Did you know Rivendell has your book for sale on their website? He sort of apologies for selling it, and offers some awkward back-handed compliments. Poor Mr. Peterson, he used to be kind of funny, and now he just sounds bitter.

Anonymous said...

"At first I was frightened, thinking it was an enraged Grant Petersen come to tackle me from the Ticino and give it the "hammer test."

I thought he could only be found within a days ride of walnut creek?

Meatball Brown said...

My wife found me a Ticino 8d on craigslist for $300. It was used in a pbotoshoot, then as an office decoration, so it had never been ridden. I love it. I'm on the purple (really? It's purple?), hipster bridge all the time, and I have no problem with my pace or the gearing. It's a solid ride. I'm going to see if we can get the Bobike Maxi over the rear fender ASAP.

But I only wear flip-flops around the house.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 3:05pm,

Yes, I forgot to mention that--very nice brakes.

Chris,

At least they're covered if wheels increase by increments of 10: 39er; 49er; 59er; and so on...

--BSNYC

ringcycles said...

nogocyclist: I had the same question about the brake levers. Why not just spec bar end shifters and regular brake levers like the retro-grouches do with moustache bars. Then again, I've been known to sport a wool jersey and I do like craft ales, so I likely have a unconscious revulsion to the Tacino.

The real wooly Rivendale guys would be naseous at the sight of those bottom bracket shell welds. I can hear them screaming "For the love of lugs!"

ant1 said...

snobby - what's the standard pfar wheel size?

r said...

$700 for a Flying Pigeon?

That's almost 5,000 Yuan which is 5 times the normal monthly salary in Beijing!

I bought a used Flying Pigeon in Beijing just to cruise around for 400 Yuan - $60.

Instead of leaving it there with my cousins, I should have shipped it home and sold it to some dumbass foreign devils in Manhattan.

Chris said...

BSNYC,

I think Niner make great bikes and 29" wheels definitely make sense in races like Leadville 100 or any other non-technical terrain. The only problem is spares. Especially in Europe (where I am from).

I also feel sorry for Niner in a way because other companies like Trek, Specialized and Cannondale will beat them at their own game, even though their bikes are rather bland in comparison.

duxus aurilious said...

The right bike for the job can change with the rider.
Years ago, around 1973. A young kid about 15 came to the start of the Coconut grove Crit to race on a Schwinn 10 speed. Old style with the flat bladed fork and iron cranks. Black rubber pedals. Doug the club president put some air in his tires and had a talk about being careful and the kid rode the race. He finished third out of about 25 riders. Mostly good club racers.
The 30 pound bike without toe straps was good enough for the kid. I'm fairly sure he was Chris Carmichael the training guru.
Horses for courses.

ringcycles said...

oops, its Ticino. My subliminal revulsion has come through. I was thinking it was close to "tacchino", italian for turkey. Which BSNYC assures us this bike is not.

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

I rather like the pigeon but I cannot believe anyone would buy one when you can get a 30-40 year old Raleigh for $75-100 on C-list.

g-roc said...

Spacers on a quill stem? How does that work?

Salty and Sore said...

loving it...

both the write-up and the bike...

Cash your PayPal, lovingly, Snob. You are still my liege.

(I'm discovering my inner dork is finding entirely new regions in which to explore the glory of my dorkitude.)

hillbilly said...

Cupper seems to refer to something having to do with yachts.

PawnShop said...

Those spacers worry me just a little. I think it's an indication that the stem might not insert beyond the fork threads - or even as far as the head tube. That clinking sound is the spacers bouncing off the pavement two seconds before the rider's head does, after the steerer tube breaks.

OHS HIT

Steven Vance said...

Can I borrow one of your bikes this weekend? I'm visiting NYC for the first time and staying near Prospect Park (I really have no idea where that is, but based on the address, that's what people told me).

K thx, just email my gmail.

PawnShop said...

I rather like the Ticino, but it appears that the precioussss never ends. Pseudo-Reynolds fork decals mixed with a pseudo-Columbus frame tube decal?

ANCH RNSM

Papa44 said...

I had to "stop reading" due to the amount of "superfluous" quotation "marks". sorry"."

BikeSnobNYC said...

Pappa44,

No "problem."

--BSNYC

SanFranNan said...

It's all the fault of that stupid fucker Bush.

randalputnam said...

Looks like President Bush might be riding a recalled model from Niner! Check out my post from May! http://wp.me/pyHDJ-ed

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

bikesgonewild said...

...i get so confused w/ all these pictures...

...which is strange in a way 'cuz most of my 'books' have plenty a' pictures...

...just sayin'...

William H Gass said...

BSNYC
Since you are feeling generous today, can you spot me a fiver till Monday?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of hammering things...

If I were doing some product development, I would also pound those blonde models a bit. You know, just to "test" them.

Anonymous said...

Geo Bush is a pie plate.

"Guppy" Honaker said...

I LOVE this blog! Decades ago I rode around on a bike as a "Mormon" missionary in Northern Florida. No better exercise in the world, and one can so enjoy surroundings as one goes. Well, those days are long behind me, so I am no enjoying rides (such as this posting in the park and going to Manhattan) through your eyes. Thanks!

- David

Aloe Vera 101
Holistic Health Info.

leroy said...

I like big bikes and I cannot lie

You other brothers can't deny

That when a girl walks in with a vintage Schwinn

Or a Ticino instead

You get sprung, if the Brooks is broken in

No need for em-bro-kay-shin

Faux leather? I'm not caring

Cause I'm hooked and I can't stop staring.

erik k said...

Nice review snob, I have to say I do think the Ticino is a nice ride

love balls said...

That Mercedes is obviously being driven by a Shimano XT hub. If it were an XTR, the plate would have said 'CRADLER'.

I think we call also assume that because BSNYC isn't a retard , he'll once again be able to keep the bicycle in his possession long enough to return it to Electra.

CUPS BALL

Sarah P. said...

Leroy- terrific!

Anonymous said...

double chainring guards?!
aren't chainring guards just glorified pieplates?

cyclotourist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cyclotourist said...

If only someone introduced Jr. to bicycles sooner, maybe he could have gone on to be a Mid-Western bike race promoter. 4,400 soldiers & Marines would be alive and a million or so Iraqis.

But yeah, I still want a Niner MCR real bad. For freedom.

Nick Cecchi said...

Derelict my Balls.

Anonymous said...

You know life is sad when a "former mormon bike missionary" is selling aloe and hollistic health.

And the big Bush JR seems to be selling big bikes.

ant1 said...

anon 8:32 - 90% of health and holistic products sold by internet/mail/phone...are sold from utah. don't check my numbers, but you get the gist.

Anonymous said...

Farmville Cheats

g said...

You know life is sad when someone spams this blog with "cheats" for a fake farming game. How hard is it to fake plant and fake water plants that you need to have cheats?

Somewhere, we all have lost our collective way.

graciela. said...

That "f the world" message just seems like something a teenager would put on his wheel. Kids are always getting angsty on their backpacks and binders. Guess their rims are an extension of that.

If that's an adult's bike. Then hmmmm...

Anonymous said...

姊夫在內地包二奶,我們建議大姊趕緊大陸抓姦
但是大姊一直顧慮而遲遲不願意大陸抓姦...
原本姊夫一個月都會回台灣一次,現在卻已經好幾個月沒有回家了;
面對這情形,大姊終於下定決心委託徵信社大陸抓姦
半個月後徵信社成功的大陸抓姦,姊夫也因為心虛理虧而與二奶分手了;
經過大陸抓姦的事件之後,大姊夫妻的關係總算是穩定下來了!

Anonymous said...

網路上徵信社如此之多,又該怎樣知道是否合法?
網頁作的美觀的徵信社並不代表實際規模,
為有實際走一遭,親眼所見才是最真實的!
不要單憑網頁上的資料就輕易委託徵信社
那麼您極有可能落入不肖徵信社的陷阱!
想要選擇徵信社,還是選擇老字號徵信社,最有保障!

Anonymous said...

顫抖著手,我拿不穩那份薄薄的離婚協議書
早知道他的出軌,癡心的守候最後他終究還是想要離婚
朋友勸我抓姦,但是我擔心他一氣之下會決裂的提出離婚要求
我愛他,願意作出一切只為挽回
所以我等、我默不吭聲、我在他面前強顏歡笑
多少夜裡,他用敷衍的藉口不歸
而我假裝相信,卻淚濕了枕頭...
顫抖著手,我拿不穩那份薄薄的離婚協議書
啞著聲音,我告訴他我絕對不會離婚去成全他們
只是,我不知道不離婚,懲罰的是他們,還是我自己...

Anonymous said...

I test rode the step through version of this bike on Saturday myself. It was a nice ride. Astute review.

Anonymous said...

I live in madison WI. Here, when people want to pass something on they leave it on the parking strip for whoever wants it. A while ago I found a trek 800 mountain bike frame from the early 80s. I took it home and fixed it up for my wife. The other day we were riding along and came next to a guy on a Surly cross check. I was looking at the frame and it looked pretty much exactly the same as the trek I found. Same geometry, same braze ons everything. I'm sure they ar both made of the same generic Cromo too. The only differnece was the Surly had a fork with a lugged crown.

So the Surly frame costs $400ish. THe old trek frame cost $0 (you can get whole trek mountain bikes for $100 on CL).

My point is, I guess, there is a huge supply of dirt cheap old bikes out there that are just as good as Surly cross checks and Techinos. I mean, is a techino any better than a schwinn Traveler with upright handlebars? Shouldn't someone be going around the country, buying these bikes ups, fixing them and then rebranding and selling them for half the price of these neo-retros? Wouldn't that be the kind of post-modern industry apporpriate to the current state of our culture?

Anonymous said...

因為她,你變得冷漠不已。曾經我也不想去抓姦
因為我還存有著絲絲希望你回頭,所以一直不願意抓姦
然而兩年過去,你以為我不敢抓姦而誇張甚至與她同居在外。
我真的不敢抓姦嗎?我只是不願意;我想,該是抓姦的時候了,
打開這扇門,是該面對現實的時候了...

Anonymous said...

她知道老公有了外遇,即使內心是想要感情挽回的,
但是擺脫不了受害者的角色,她動輒吵鬧、刻薄的言語...
這些與感情挽回背道而馳的動作讓老公原本愧疚的感覺逐漸消磨!
孩子也想要幫助媽媽感情挽回,但是媽媽總是以受害者自居,
想要感情挽回、但是內心與表現卻總是充滿憤怒!
最後,這段婚姻當然無法感情挽回,終究以離婚收場...

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Anonymous said...

Snobulated snippets for any topic:

"I approached its purple girders..."

I approached its empurpled girders...

I girded its empurpled approach...

I poached and gurgled its purpled ...

I empurpled its approachable grid...

Anonymous said...

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

nice and thanks.

Anonymous said...

this is appreciable.!!!!!!i like it.

Anonymous said...

OH for F-sake! Who gives a rat's ass what kind of bike people ride. So what if someone likes the vintage aesthetic on a bike... as opposed to someone who owns a bike that isn't vintage, and perhaps puts more mileage on it. At least they're out there riding. Be kind... and don't be such pricks about people who aren't exactly...well... you.

Anonymous said...

Here what i found -> vision correction

sangeee said...

who bedeck their bicycles with an airport carousel's worth of canvas luggage, but will simply look really nice to people who don't know what any of that means or who don't really care.Bikes Sale

rachael said...

your reviews of bikes are obnoxious. i hope new york swallows you whole.

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Lindsey said...

I LOVE your review of the Ticino. We live in Zurich and I'm planning on buying a Ticino because it's so pretty. (I'm totally the person you like making fun of!!! ;)

My respectable husband, who rides a Rivendell Blériot with white 650b's, has convinced me that family bike rides with our baby are going to be awesome. I think he's right!

I'm glad to hear the Ticino is comfortable and light and gets the job done. I suppose I'll look a bit schmucky riding alongside the Blériot, but so be it. One family can only pay for and insure one Rivendell!!

Thanks for the laughs! ;)

fixie bikes said...

It's a nice color bike i suppose.