01 February 2012

Sheldon, Aaron and Bob

Today was an unusually warm day for this time of year.  Because of a scheduling oddity, I didn't have classes today.  So, I took Tosca out for a ride through some of the landmarked areas of Woodside and Jackson Heights, as well as the promenade along that starts near LaGuardia Airport and goes to the World's Fair Marina.

Then I had an appointment in Manhattan, to which I rode Vera.  I changed bikes because I changed clothes:  from sweats and trainer shoes to a skirt, blouse and dressier shoes.

After my appointment, I took a quick swing down to Bicycle Habitat, from which I ordered Tosca, Arielle and Helene as well as some of the components I hung on them and other equipment I use with them.  Hal wasn't in, but I did see two employees I hadn't seen in a while:  Aaron and Sheldon.

Sheldon is an old riding buddy whom I didn't see for about a decade or so until I bumped into him in the shop not long before my surgery.  I don't think I'd seen him since some time in the fall:  I think I showed up on his off-days or -hours.

Aaron, like Sheldon, has been working in the shop for some time.  He doesn't want me to publish his photo. However, he said I could publish photos, and write about, of one of his bikes, of which I'd only heard before today.  

It's a nice Bob Jackson from, I believe, the '70's.  He's outfitted it with contemporary components: The only "period" pieces are the SunTour ratchet shifters and Cyclone rear derailleurs.  I can understand using those:  I used them myself, back in the day.

I remember, as a teenager, seeing Bob Jacksons, Mercians, Ron Coopers and the frames of some other English builder--I don't remember which, except that I don't think it was Jack Taylor--in a catalogue somewhere.  

I knew that the best racing bikes were believed to be those from Italy and a few American custom builders. The English made some excellent racing frames, too; in my heart of hearts, I really wanted one of those--or one from a French constructeur--even more than an Italian bike.  I would eventually ride, and race, on a couple of Italian bikes, but I really liked the ride qualities of those English frames (I got to try a few that belonged to customers in shops where I worked.).  Plus, the Italian racing frames always seemed gaudy to me, even in my youth; I always felt that my "bike for life" would have the meticulous lugwork and other detail of those English builders.  Their workmanship impressed me more than what I saw on the Italian bikes.

The only braze-ons the frame has are for the water bottle cage (on the downtube only) and a "stop" for the shift lever band.  That was typical on bikes of that time:  at least a couple of bikes I owned were so made.

That frame is at least thirty years old, and it's not hard to imagine Aaron--or somebody else--riding it for another thirty years.  I think Bob Jacksons are still being made--although, by this time, I rather doubt Bob Jackson himself is building them.  I don't know whether Ron Coopers or Jack Taylors are still being built:  I haven't seen references to them in recent catalogues or magazines.  At least it's nice to know that Mercian is still keeping up the flame they, and those other builders, kept burning for decades.  

1 comment:

  1. Bob Jackson passed away in 1999 according to their website. Bob Jackson bikes are still being built.
    According to Wikipedia, Ron Cooper is still turning out a frame every couple of days.
    It appears Jack Taylor closed in 1990 as documented at:

    Thanks for spurring me to do some checking on outfits I was unfamiliar with.