04 February 2012

Banana At The End Of Christopher Street

If you are of my or Steve's or Gunnar's generation, you probably remember when bananas were "energy bars."  That's what we ate during rides before there were Power Bars, Clif Bars and such.

If you're of our time, you might also remember the movie "Bananas."  That came out a couple of years before a Presidential adviser tried to tell people that a dip in economy was a "banana."

But if you're a cyclist of our generation, apart from the association with the original cycling snack, you probably connect the word "banana" with "seat."  

From about the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's, banana seats were found on a variety of kids' bikes on which kids did "wheelies". I'm thinking of the Schwinn Sting-Ray and Apple, Orange and Lemon Krates as well as the Raleigh Chopper and other bikes.  

Those bikes, and seats, had all but disappeared by the early 1980's.  There are several explanations as to why.  There were rumors circulating (Remember, this was before the Internet!) that there were lawsuits involving people who got hurt when seat struts broke.  That seems plausible enough, given that, as often as not, those seats were carrying two kids at a time, and those seats weren't designed for that.

But the more widely-believed reason for the disappearance of banana seats were the rise in popularity of BMX and, later, mountain biking.  Smaller seats and lighter frames are better suited to those kinds of cycling, for a variety of reasons.

Also, the kids who rode those bikes simply got older.  Some of them moved on to road or mountain biking, but most put bicycling aside altogether once they got their drivers' licences.

I understand that banana seats are enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity.  Today I saw one where I wasn't quite expecting it:

Susan says she "loves" the banana seat on the rear of her otherwise utilitarian Giant hybrid bike.  I can only imagine what it's like to pedal from back there.  Come to think of it, I'm not sure I'd want to.  I also don't think I'd want to pull a "wheelie" on that bike!

Anyway...I've seen bananas at the end of Christopher Street--just not banana seats!


  1. Any idea how she attached that back there?

  2. Jess--As I recall, the clamping mechanism was cut off a seat post rack and attached to the underside of the front of the seat. That allowed the banana seat to clamp to the seatpost.