04 April 2013

A Shopper On Campus

Today, in one of the college's bike racks, I saw something interesting:

I apologize that I couldn't get take a better photo.  But, as you can see, it's a small-wheeled bike that doesn't have a folding or collapsible frame.  It seems like a variant on the "Shopper" bike, which Bobbin and a few other companies have re-introduced during the last couple of years.

The medium-wide semi-slick tires are what one might expect to see on a city bike.  And the bike's low profile makes for quick mounting and dismounting.  Those features were common on the "shopper" bikes Raleigh and a few other English companies made during the 1960's and 1970's.  Those bikes were very popular in Albion, but didn't seem to find much of an audience anywhere else.  I think one reason may be that, in the US at any rate, people equated the small wheels with folding or children's bikes.

The bike in the photo differs slightly from those bikes, and from the Bobbin "shopper" I saw at Adeline's and in last year's New Amsterdam bike show.  For one thing, the Bobbin, like the classic "shopper," comes with an internally-geared hub, while the bike in the photo has a rear derailleur with six speeds.  Also, the Bobbin and the older bikes had fenders, chainguards and lights:  They looked rather like  classic three-speeds with smaller wheels and a somewhat tighter geometry.  

Also, the bike in the photo has white(!) rims and chain.  Could the maker (I could find only a "C" logo) be trying to appeal to hipsters?  Even if that's the intent, I think it's an interesting bike.  I was surprised to see it parked at the college.  Then again, it might be just the right bike for a lot of student commuters or for students on residential campuses.  In other words, it just might become a "collegiate" bike.



  1. Hmmm. The big frame with 20" wheels I think of the Huffy Pro Thunder Max and the Schwinn Qualifier. The first I think an oearly odd BMX bike. The latter I think Schwinn and another company or two made this style of bike for a type of racing that never caught on that might have been called Formula 1? Don't quote me on any of this though.
    I've got a photo of each

  2. Randy--You make good points. Thank you for the links to the photos.

  3. I have three of these bikes. One is a schwinn qualifier s6 that was made in the late 80's. It was originally set up as a six speed pursuit / parking lot racing bike. It handles surprisingly well and is a pleasure to ride as well. The second bike is a Sillgey piccolo. It was designed around the idea of a single speed small wheel bike. It is very comfortable to ride but is very twitchy. The third is a Masi mini velo fixed gear. It is the least dependable of the three as far as handling. I'm a small man 5' 8" and have struggled to find a bike that fits me. The Schwinn Qualifier by far is the finest bike I've ever ridden. I converted it to fixed gear and changed the wheels from 20" 406 to 20" 451. It's a great bike and many people ask about it. I believe when geared properly they preform just as well as a 700c wheeled bike.