05 June 2014

One Person's Trash Is Another Person's...Honjo? LeFol?

I used to know people who never bought furniture or electronic equipment:  They furnished their rooms, apartments or even houses—and made music, phone calls, designs and algorithms—with stuff people left curbside for sanitation workers to pick up.  I still know someone, a musician and bike mechanic (If he’s reading this, he knows who he is!), who has never purchased a power tool or even a vacuum cleaner:  He has refurbished stuff other people discarded.  He even owns a couple of bikes acquired that way. I, too, have had such bikes in my life.

Maybe it’s because most of my acquaintances and I are well into middle age that I no longer hear of people filling their living spaces with beds, couches or even desks or cupboards other people no longer wanted or needed.  Perhaps young people are still doing such things and I just need to make younger friends.  Or it may be that concerns over bedbugs and contagious diseases have stopped people from constructing their living spaces from the flotsam of other people’s lives.

I admit it’s been a while since I’ve done anything like that.  In fact, when I see piles of furniture and books, or bags of clothes or concatenations of toasters, blenders, food processors, microwave ovens, stereo equipment, light fixtures and framed prints relegated to the edge of the gutter at the beginning or end of a month (when people move out), I almost never stop even to take a look.  For now, I don’t want any living being besides Max or Marley to take up residence in my apartment unless he or she is helping me to pay the rent or is a partner in a recreational (not procreational!) activity with me.

The other day, I rode by an apartment full of stuff without the apartment abandoned in front of a recently-built waterfront condo building on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg.  I wouldn’t be writing about it if I hadn’t noticed something from the corner of my eye and checked it out.

It’s not every day that someone leaves behind a pair of hammered aluminum fenders with a randonneur-style rack. It would be serendipitous (Is that an actual word?) enough if they were from Velo Orange.  But I knew, as soon as I picked them up that at least the fenders aren’t.  

The pattern on them consists of hexagons that are more sharply defined than the polygons on the VO fenders:

I doubted then, as I do now, that they’re original LeFol or other vintage French fenders.  But could they be Honjos?  The pattern matches.  And, even more interestingly, they are 43 mm wide, the same as Honjos, whereas my VOs are 45 mm.  (VO also makes 35mm hammered fenders.) 

But I didn’t see any sort of markers to indicate their provenance.  I’ve seen a couple of pairs of Honjos before, but I can’t recall whether they had any decals or emblems on them.  I also don’t know whether some other company is making fenders that look so much like Honjos.  It’s not inconceivable:  After all, how could Honjo claim a patent infringement when its own fenders replicate 50- or 60-year-old French designs?

Anyway, the fenders are in excellent shape.  There’s a little bit of dirt on the underside, which shows they were ridden, but not much.  There are a couple of indentations where the fenders were fitted between fork blades or seat stays.  They were drilled for some frame that had threaded fitments in the fork crown and underneath the seatstay bridge, as Helene (my newer Miss Mercian) has.  The holes don’t seem gouged or otherwise enlarged and have no cracks or other stresses around them. So, if I wanted to use the fenders on Helene, fitting the front should be no problem, but the hole in the rear might not line up with the fitting on the rear bridge. 

Of course, I could plug that hole and use the fender with a bracket—on Helene or Vera.  But the rack is not meant to be used with panniers or loads of more than a couple of kilos—both of which I sometimes carry on Vera.

Before I try anything, I want to ascertain that these fenders are actually from Honjo (or LeFol?!) and not some knock-offs that would be a downgrade, quality-wise, from my Velo Orange fenders.  

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