09 February 2013

Banana On Sports

Yesterday's post turned into a capsule history of the banana seat.  I hadn't intended that; somehow, while under the influence of a Dunkin' Donuts dark hot chocolate, my mind drifted in that direction.

I was thinking about banana seats because of a bike I saw yesterday:

It was parked outside the main building of Borough of Manhattan Community College.  The school is located, literally, in the shadow of the site of the World Trade Center; for a few years after 9/11, I could only pass through that part of town.  However, yesterday, I had business down that way, and spotted the bike--just as its owner showed up to unlock it.  

I didn't get much of a chance to talk with her.  Her name is Julie, and she's a librarian at the college.  I would have loved to ask her whether she bought or received the bike in the state I found it--or whether someone converted it for her.

I know enough to realize that her bike is a Raleigh "Sports" three-speed from the mid-1970's. The particular shade of blue (with a silver panel on the seat tube) was offered around that time, which is when I first began to work in bike shops.

Probably the only more elegant "Sports" models were made in silver-gray.  The paint and panels are, I think, tasteful without being overly formal:  It's not difficult to imagine students as well as professors--or librarians--riding it. 

Like many Raleigh three-speeds ridden by commuters, it has a basket fitted to its handlebar.  However, it has another modification that the chaps in Nottingham never envisioned:  a banana seat!  At first glance, it looks utterly incongruous.  However, as most people who ride the Raleigh Sports--or other English three-speeds--want a comfortable ride, and the banana seat is indeed the idea some people (particularly those who ride short distances) have of comfort, there is a certain weird logic to installing one on such a bike.

The rest of the bike's eqipment seems to be original, except for the tires:  a white/cream Schwalbe on the front, and a whitewall of some sort on the rear.  The white/cream Schwalbes look great on Raleigh three-speeds; I installed them on the last such bike I owned.  I guess two white walls wouldn't look bad, either.  

I'm guessing that Julie has a bike that suits her purposes, although I would never install a banana seat on a Raliegh Sports (or almost any other bike, for that matter).  Anyway, I'm glad she's riding to work.  

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