24 July 2012

Is This What The Vikings Had In Mind?

Today I am going to create a post that will get lots and lots of views for all of the wrong reasons.  I will express shock and moral indignation. (What other kind of indignation is there, really?)  I will protest some more...and more.  And, well...we all know what happens when the lady doth protest too much.

Sometimes I think a good working definition of the word "model" is "someone who is better--or, at least more attractive--than the product he or she is being employed to sell."   Such is the case with the young woman in the ad for Crescent Bicycles, which appeared in Bicycling! in 1975 or thereabouts.

The bicycles she was trying to entice young men into buying were made in Sweden and bear no relation to velocipedes bearing the same name that were made in the USA at the end of the 19th, and the beginning of the 20th, centuries.  The bikes looked cool in a funky '70's sort of way:  orange paint with checkerboard (that, I think, was supposed to represent a checkered flag) graphics.  That, actually, was fairly surprising for something that came out of the land of Queen Christina.  

Even more surprising was the workmanship--or, should I say, the lack thereof.  This was even true on the higher models made from Reynolds 531 tubing.  I worked on a few of those bikes and found, not only fairly sloppy braze works around the lugs, but globs of molten metal that cooled into unfinished edges of metal at the points where the bottom bracket shell and seat lugs met the frame tubes.  This made it difficult to fit parts such as bottom bracket cups and seat posts accurately.

Perhaps the worst problem of all, though, was the toe clip overlap.  Mind you, I don't mind some toe clip overlap.  But I think that had my shoes been any bigger, I could have flicked the quick-release lever on the front wheel with my toes.  All right, that's an exaggeration.  But I don't recall any other bike--not even the most extreme track machine--that placed a rider's lower digits so close to the front wheel spokes.  As Michael Kone and Sheldon Brown wryly noted, most of these bikes probably "met untimely deaths in commuter hell accidents."

Those young women really should have been wearing helmets and using foot retention!

1 comment:

  1. This post brings back memories from my college years in the 70s. A buddy of mine rode a Crescent. I rode a Motobecane, and a guy down the hall in the dorm rode a Nishiki, which was the best bike of the lot. The bike brands were quite multicultural, and no doubt the Japanese had a distinct technological edge at the time. I upgraded my Motobecane Mirage by scrapping the Simplex stem shifters and the steel chain guard, adding alloy rims and getting rid of the Suicide Brake Levers.
    OK, so it was still a piece of crap, and it met an inglorious end after a Senior Citizen backed into me while I was on my way to class.
    Had I seen those ads, I definitely would have considered buying a Crescent.