Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

02 November 2012

Out And About After Sandy

I was lamenting the fact that I won't be able to take a big trip this year.

However, I am experiencing the weather and seeing the kind of light one finds in London, Copenhagen and other northern European capitals.  

Somehow, though, I don't imagine they've had anything like Hurricane Sandy.  Then again, I'm sure they have other kinds of rough weather that I didn't spend enough time in those places to experience.

But I digress. Apart from the chilly, damp air and gray skies, something else gives the part of the world in which I live the flavor of northern Europe:

Those bikes are parked outside PS 1.  It seems that every time I ride down that way, I see more and more bikes parked there:

Those racks, installed recently, aren't enough for the bicycle traffic that stops at the museum.  Almost as many bikes are locked and chained to lamposts, parking meters and other immobile objects on the surrounding blocks.  Some of those bikes are interesting and unusual, such as this one:

A few A. Sutter bicycles, which were made  France, made their way to these shores before and during the '70's "Bike Boom."  They are much like other French bikes of the period--a little nicer, perhaps than Peugeot, but not quite as nice as Motobecane. But definiely, quintessentially French, for better and worse.

I mean, nobody else did chainguards the way they did them in Gaul.  And their fenders are, rightly, the ones that inspire the ones Velo Orange and other companies make:

The bike in the photos, and most other A. Sutters, were manufactured in Chatellerault, in the Loire Valley. A. Sutter also offered a top-of-the line racing model that Olmo made in Italy.  Like most top-of-the-line Italian racing bikes (as well as some from other countries), it was equipped with Campagnolo Nuovo Record components.

I don't know whether A. Sutter is still in business--and, if they are, whether their bikes are still made in Chatellerault or anywhere else in France.

If they're still being made, I wonder whether they're available in the light blue of that bike. Lots of bike makers made light blue bikes, but this particular shade, by itself, all but marks it as a French Bike.

Now, for a very different blue bike, take a look at this:

You've probably seen Austro-Daimlers before.  They're another marque associated with the '70's Bike Boom.  They might be best-known for one of the most elegant catalogs ever produced and their pledge that their top-of-the-line bike, the Ultima, would "leave the factory in a specially prepared foam-filled case." The ladies' version of the Vent Noir might be the most elegant mixte that wasn't made by a French constructeur or English hand-builder!

Even their lower-and mid-level bikes reflected the attention to detail of their best machines:

I find it interesting to see bicycles like this one that are more than three decades old but look as if they just left the showroom.  Was it stored in one of those foam-filled cases?

Anyway, enough about bikes.   I took a spin down to Brooklyn, and passed by Pratt Institute. I can hardly imagine a campus looking more autumnal than this:


  1. I dig that space age-like chain guard. Interesting.

  2. Annie--It was the first thing about the bike that caught my eye. It's indeed space-age, but somehow completely French at the same time.