12 January 2013

Out Of The Fold Of My Past

In an earlier post, I wrote about the Dahon Vitesse D5 on which I commuted for about a year and a half.  I think I gave the impression that it was the only folding or collapsible bike I've ever owned.  That's more or less true, if you don't count another one I owned for a few days.  

I was reminded of it when I came across this photo:

It's a Chiorda folding bicycle, just like the one I owned for a few days. It's even the same color, although--cosmetically, anyway--in slightly better condition than mine was.

I had an excuse for its rattiness: I found mine by the curb, next to some bags of trash.  For some reason I don't recall, I didn't ride my bike that day to visit a then-friend who was living in Jackson Heights.  I spotted the bike as I walked to the subway station.

But I didn't take the train home.  I walked the bike to a nearby gas station where I inflated the tires.  They held air long enough for me to ride the bike back to Brooklyn, where I lived at the time.

At that time, I'd ridden a few folding bikes, never for very long.  The Chiorda was about what I expected from such a bike.  Actually, I should qualify that statement:  It was about what I expected from a folding bike, but slightly better than what I expected from a Chiorda.

You see, I developed an early prejudice against the brand.  My first--and, for a long time, only--experiences with them came in the first bike shop in which I worked.  A nearby R&S Auto (Think of it as a low-rent version of Western Auto or Pep Boys.) sold Chiorda ten-speeds for $69.  The quality of the ones I saw ranged from ghastly to just plain scary.  I don't recall seeing one that didn't have a misaligned frame; some had bottom bracket threads that stripped when you removed the cups, rear brake bridges that broke off the stays and various other problems.  

At that time, bikes from Taiwan and Eastern Europe (except for the Czech-made Favorits) were considered the worst on the market; I think the Chiordas I saw were just as bad.  To be fair, though, any of those bikes was better than the Indian three-speeds I fixed.  And, I would learn that Felice Gimondi actually won the Tour de France on a Chiorda--though not, of course, the one I found or the ones I'd worked on.

But my ingrained prejudice prevailed. Even though the treasure I found in the trash was better than I thought it would be,  I didn't expect to keep it.  One day, a few days after I found it, I took it out for a spin.  I stopped at a greengrocer, where I encountered a sometime riding buddy and local mechanic.  He actually wanted the bike--for his girlfriend.

I guess I can understand why he wanted it for her:  Even if it wasn't the greatest bike, it was kinda cute.  So, for that matter, was she.  He was, too.  I haven't heard from him in years.  Now I wonder whether she still has that bike--or him.


  1. I have to agree that the bike is sort of cute in that 70's folding bike way. What country were Chiordas made in?

  2. In an alternate universe, the bike in "Breaking Away" could have been a Chiorda rather than a California-built Masi.

  3. Adventure!-Chiordas were made in Italy.

    Steve--That's an interesting thought. How could that have made the movie different?