01 November 2011
folding bicycles, an infatuation story
Here's my sweet little vintage folding bike, which I love and already know I will have trouble parting with. It's a now-defunct Basque brand, GAC (Garate, Anitua y Cia). When I took it into a workshop because the front tube needed replaced, the guy pointed at all of the other bikes he had available as rentals, and commented on how this one's like new and he has to replace the rentals annually.
I might add that the photo doesn't do it justice because it doesn't show the chain guard and glorious crank case as well as it could. Doing some internet-based reconnaissance, I realize I acquired it for a steal, considering its condition, and if I was serious at all, I probably wouldn't be using it for daily use -- but then what fun would it be? It has front and back lights which work with a little motor that engages onto the front wheel, carries my groceries well and it's becoming recognizable around town.
It reminds me of this Eska I spotted this summer in Nová Sedlica:
Because really, for all that we speak of mid-century modern design, which can be all sexy and jet-setty and Corbusian and all kinds of adjectives I love, this is it. These bicycles are the epitome of European mid-century modern, because they embody the post-war European working class -- we've moved on from Ladri di biciclette, now this is something everyone can have and afford, and in a sense the only thing that makes these bicycles special now is that they still exist. What I also like is that while these bikes are on the surface opposites: fascist/communist, Basque/Zemplín, red/blue, etc they're essentially the same folding bike (though the GAC has some lovely bourgeois curves) to be sold to the same people at the same time, just in different places.
My soft spot for this style of bicycles comes from a delightful ride along the Barceloneta back in 2007 -- back home, I've got a steel Chinese-made model from my university years, and I'm looking forward to even more delightful rides with this one.