So why am I posting a photo of a weird bike I've never seen in person?
Well, believe it or not, it's personal for me.
Those of you who know me, whether in person or through this blog, know that I have never owned a bike that even remotely resembles that one, and that I've ridden such bikes maybe a couple of times in my life.
Did some hipster use his fixie in an anger management class?Or did some messenger smoke too much of, shall we say, something that's not made by a subsidiary of RJ Reynolds?
Actually, the original owner of that bike had the frame built that way. Apparently, it was built as a pursuit track frame.
One thing that makes it more interesting is that the frame was built by a builder with a conservative reputation (in building practices, anyway: I know nothing about his politics!).
Romic bicycles were built by Ray Gasiorowski in Houston from the mid-70's until the mid-90's. On some frames he used Nervex-style lugs; on others, he used plainer but elegant long-point lugs. His work was very clean and solid, if not blingy.
This is a road-racing bike he made, apparently, some time during the early '90's. Like most of his bikes, it was constructed of Reynolds 531 tubing.
Here is a Romic touring frame:
Some non-Reynolds Romic bikes were made of Columbus or Tange tubing. Some of the builder's touring and sport-touring frames had Reynolds 531 main triangles and Tange rear triangles and forks. I suspect that such was the case with the pictured bike.
My suspicion is an informed one: I had one of those bikes. It was a sport-touring model, which featured geometry somewhere between the racing and touring bikes in the photos. It was the first frame I ever bought and built up.
At the time, it was my only bike. And it was the kind of bike you wanted to have if you were going to have only one: I toured and raced with it. The rear triangle was surprisingly stiff for a bike with its geometry; it gave a zippy ride when I put a pair of tubular wheels and tires on it but was remarkably stable when I rode it, with a rack, panniers and handlebar bag, through England and France.
One of my youthful follies was deciding that I needed a "racier" bike. So I sold my Romic and bought a Trek frame made from Columbus tubing. In those days, some Trek racing frames--including the one I bought--had even shorter chainstays and wheelbases than most Italian criterium bikes. A few cyclists still seek those Trek frames from the late 70s and early 80s for their stiffness. However, some of them had a problem that could prove painful: the seat clusters broke off them.
As far as I know, nothing like that ever happened to a Romic. Better yet, I still remember the bike--and, more important, the ride--all of these years later. When I ordered Arielle, I had that Romic in mind. You might say that my Mercian road bike is an updated, somewhat tighter, version of that Romic from my youth.
Note: Romic mountain-bike shocks have no relationship to Romic bicycles. In fact, I think the first Romic shocks were made after Ray Gasiorowski died in 1996.