Saturday, 28 November 2015

What's In A Name? -- or, the Anthropomorphisation Diversion

Twins separated at birth: Susan and Sharon,
played by Hayley Mills in Disney's The Parent Trap

Take two (originally) identical bicycles, strip them of all their components, then build them up again with the components from each bike going onto the other bike...

Yes, Operation Body Swap is under way.  Here's the post about the London Town Bike version, using the frame from my first Puch Princess then built up with most of the components from another Puch Princess (same year and model, frame IDs only a few numbers apart) bought from a woman about 15 miles up the road.

When the Road Bike of the two twins is finished, she will look like this. Except with a nicer frame.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

London Town Bike #4 -- or, Finally Just Right?

The saga of finding a suitable bike for use on the central London part of my daily commute continues... 

Back in August 2014, I had identified five options

1. Find an old frame and build it up with parts already to hand; 
2. Use an existing 'old' bike (of which I had one but wasn't quite prepared to 'sentence' to year-round all-weather theft-risk use); 
3. Buy another (complete) 'old' bike that I didn't have qualms about; 
4. Wait and buy a new bike via Cyclescheme; or
5. Buy a really cheap, new bike "for now". 

At that point, I had tried nos. 1 and 3. After setting out my options as above, I went with no. 5: the Viking Bromley

That experiment taught me a lesson: cheap bikes just don't work as well. (Well, d'oh!)

My latest venture is in fact a combination of option nos. 1, 2 and 3: 

This is Phase I of the Puch Princess Body Swap

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Custom versus Bespoke

Do you have a bespoke suit?  A custom car? 

Was it made to order? Or tailored to fit you and your style after it was made? 

The words "custom" and "bespoke" are regularly applied to bicycles and often in ways that make the two words seem interchangeable. But are they? 

From the dictionary definitions, it seems many do view the two words as "synonyms", that is, two words that mean the same. 

In the bicycle industry, this certainly seems to be true: both words are regularly used more or less interchangeably. The British have perhaps (until recently) favoured the use of "bespoke" while Americans have leant towards use of "custom", but that seems to be changing rapidly, with "custom" becoming the dominant word on this side of the Atlantic as well. 

I wish to make a case for differentiating the meaning of the two words
for the sake of precision and clarity! 

The problem in my view is that both words are often used to describe two situations that are entirely different

  • A bicycle frame made from scratch to the precise requirements and demands of an individual.

like a "bespoke suit" =
you are measured up before scissors go near the fabric

  • The building up of a frame (any frame, whether stock or made to order as above) to meet the demands or satisfy the requests of an individual. The individual has had no input into the design and manufacturer of the frame itself, though usually they are given a choice of size, from a range of sizes on offer. 

like a "custom car" = 
you buy another person's basic design or vision,
with the option to personalise the hell out of it!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

And Then There Were Two

Last year's rebuild of my 1978 Puch Princess has been a complete success. 

With one small niggle.... the paintwork.

Lots of scratches, the "Princess" decal long gone from the top tube, and -- worst of all --
damage to the seat tube where a previous owner apparently draped a lock from the saddle rails.

Ideally, I would love to have the whole bike resprayed, but I felt mired in indecision over whether to go for as-close-to-original as possible (including reproduction decals) or opt for something entirely different. I hesitated to jettison the Puch branding and identity altogether. However, the decals are the distinctive part of the 'livery' and I've never been 'in love' with the distinct 1970s vibe they give off. Don't get me wrong, they've rather grown on me over time. But if I were planning the colour scheme of this bike from scratch, this isn't what I would have come up with! The light metallic green colour might well have made my shortlist of colour options but in the end would have likely lost out to something else -- possibly navy, maybe even red. That would be a crying shame but I know in my heart I could not promise I wouldn't. 

Hence my inaction over doing something about the tired, worn paintwork. 

Over last winter, while the bicycle mostly hibernated (only coming out on dry days for a bit of coffeeneuring and errandonneuring), I shoved this 'first world' problem to the back of my mind. 

There it lie dormant, just waiting for a catalyst to wake it up.

Spotting this on ebay proved to be that catalyst.

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