Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cross-Cultural Relationships

Cross-cultural relationships are complicated to navigate. Once the novelty wears off, the differences can create a rift between partners. But the differences can also bring the couple closer by compelling them to communicate about things that are taken for granted by same-culture couples. In the process, the couple may discover that despite their different backgrounds, they actually have more in common with each other than with their own kind. Three months into their life together, I think that my Gazelle and the Co-Habitant's Pashley are accepting each other's differences and discovering their similarities in the nicest way possible.

The Pashley Roadster has the lower-set North Road handlebars characteristic of English bicycles, but in other ways it seems to have more in common with the Gazelle. They share not only the 28" wheel size, but also frame proportions, angles, relative weight, and handling. The Pashley Princess seemed to be a much smaller bicycle when it stood next to the Pashley Roadster than the Gazelle does. And I have already written about the mysterious differences in ride quality between the men's and lady's Pashleys. The Gazelle seems like a better-matched companion in terms of acceleration and hill-climbing. I would also say that the Pashley Roadster is more similar to the Dutch Gazelle than to the English Raleigh DL-1 Roadster. There is a certain heavy stateliness the Pashley and Gazelle share that the Raleigh DL-1 does not. Despite the rod brakes and the vintage vibe, the DL-1 is actually a lighter and sportier bike than either of these two.

What exactly in the design of the Pashley Roadster makes it more similar to my Dutch bike than to my previous English one, I do not know. But these similarities have certainly been a positive factor in the Gazelle and Pahsley's relations.

The English gentleman and the Dutch lady... a case in point that cross-cultural relationships can work.

28 comments:

  1. Hi V,

    And a georgous couple they are! Just wanted to add my thanks to what people had to say on your last post. I never saw the bike as a lovely item before, it was always a piece of sports equipment and then a tool.

    Needless to say your terrible influence has led me to the classic side. I picked up a 70's Raliegh sports. It is a bit rusty just yet. Once I have it looking a bi more lovely I'll send some pics.

    NickB

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  2. The english and the Dutch were not always that amicable in the past.
    Those are indeed two handsome cycles. I like the almost playful detail work on the Gazelle but the austere black of the Pashley I like even more.

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  3. NickB - Thank you and I'm sorry if I end up instigating an obsession : )

    Forrest Lee Causseaux - Yes, they are proud to be making amends for history!

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  4. I just recently found your site and I like the style of it and the beauty that you find in vintage bikes. I don't know if this goes against the vibe here, but I recently purchased a 75 Schwinn Collegiate as a fun commuter bike.

    Anyway, you have a great site and I am looking forward to reading more.

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  5. Thanks Clyde! Nothing really goes against the vibe here; bicycles are generally great. And the Schwinn Collegiate looks like a neat bike - I see many of them in Boston.

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  6. As I await the arrival of my Workcycles Secret Service due next Wednesday, I am already thinking about a second bike. The Gazelle and Pashley are two of many wonderful brands out there to choose from. I hope to spend a while with my Secret Service before making any decision as I have Lots to learn. I am lucky that I found your blog as I have already learned a great deal from you.

    best,

    JimP

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  7. Spent a happy half hour reading over your recent posts - hurrah! for the biking life! After a brief schedule crisis I am returning to consistent two-wheels once more and your blog is such a great meetingplace to hear about other cycling lives. Thanks as always for your informative and delightful bicycle explorations.

    A question - Since taking your long rides this summer do you have some ideas to pass along about choosing a good long-distance road bike? I have finally had to admit to myself that despite the good years on my old hybrid it just isn't and just can't be as nice a ride as the Oma. And the Oma is just too heavy for hills and 60-80 mile days. Is there a road bike out there that will be as much a sheer pleasure to ride as the Oma - but with a more forward ride and drastically lighter? Where do I start?

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  8. I love your Gazelle.

    And wow I have clocked a lot of time at the Wine and Cheese Cask. :)

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  9. Emma J - How about Rivendell? The Sam Hillborne if you prefer a diamond frame (I do, when it comes to roadbikes), or the Betty Foy if you prefer a mixte. Velo Orange also sells a nice lugged mixte frame, for less. And I have also heard good things about the Soma frames.

    neighbourtease - Wait, do they have on in NYC as well?

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  10. No, that one. I have an ex-boyfriend who lived two blocks away when in school.

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  11. These pics make me wonder yet again why Pashley didn't produce the Princess with 28" wheels - the Gazelle looks like a natural partner for the Roadster in terms of proportions. What a handsome couple :-)

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  12. neighbourtease - Aah, I see : )

    Thanks Carinthia. I've been thinking about why they designed the Princess that way, and can't think of a reason - especially as there are so many tall women in the UK. Maybe we ought to write them letters...

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  13. Forrest: Those differences actually make them all the more compatible. Yes, they are a lovely couple.

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  14. Hi again,

    also unrelated and perhaps already known to you but this is a lovely web-page with some amazing old catalogue pictures and some nifty solutions to practical cycling problems that would merit a revival:

    http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/bicycles/Sunbeam.htm

    the whole wolverhampton museum of industry website is worth a look and quite fun:

    http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/museum.htm

    Samuel

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  15. Samuel -Thanks, I have not seen that website before. I'll have the Lady's Sunbeam Special with a leather chaincase and oil bath please!

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  16. Oh my! Eccentric bottom bracket/chain tensioning device, high/low gears built into the chainring, a 3 speed hub, self-lubricating drive train, a system for removing the rear inner tube without removing the rear wheel, a selection of touring, racing and leisure geometries, several frame and wheel size combinations, a ladies' diamond frame for "modified" riding costume (presumably trousers) and a ladies' loop and step-through frames for traditional leisure riding, my goodness, Sunbeam invented everything back in 1800s. :)

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  17. Maybe these two have found mutual support with both being so far away from their homelands.
    Does the Pashley speak dutch, or does the Gazelle speak english?

    You can tell when they get along well, in that
    they never seem to park facing away from each other. They look like two swans in a embracing dance.

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  18. As to Emma J looking for a road bike recommendation and V having heard good things about Soma frames, I can enthusiastically recommend the latter, being an overjoyed owner of a Smoothie ES. (ES standing for "extra smooth," and in fact I believe starting this year that particular model is called simply the ES). The only thing is if you're looking for something "drastically lighter," it all depends on what you're comparing it to (the Oma? I am not familiar with those). It is steel, after all--though noticably lighter than the steel bike I rode in the 1970's and 80's that, in comparison, may have been made of cast iron.

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  19. Christopher Fotos - The Dutch bikes weigh 50lb+, so pretty much all of those options are "drastically lighter" : )

    Glad you like your Soma, some of their frames look so appealing. Have you heard anything good or bad about the Van Ness - the lugged single speed?

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  20. My 70s road bike feels like 30-35lbs. It's easy for me to carry it up and down stairs, but it's not a light-weight bike. I can imagine with a lighter cromoly frame and newer/lighter parts you could get into the sub-30 lbs territory even if you start with a vintage frame. Warning, though: vintage bikes require lots of tinkering and self-guided assembly while a new Riv (or other good brands) from a store may be easier to just buy and ride.

    Emma J--one problem with recommending a bike is that you did not specify your budget. Are you looking to spend <$500, $1000 or $3000? Not sure what to recommend since each category has its own set of compromises.

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  21. V, unfortunately no, I've not heard anything about the Van Ness, and see little about it out on the web.

    I will note in connection with weight (and in connection with bikes that weigh less than, um, 50 pounds), I briefly considered using the carbon fiber fork recommended for my Smoothie ES but had a strong preference for going all steel if I could, and then realized the steel fork--the one now on my bike--was only marginally heavier the carbon fiber one.

    And getting back to Emmma J, what MIDI said--price drives choices. FWIW my Soma came in at about $1350, with some decent components like the Shimano 105 derailleur and saving on near-generic items like the drop bars (and a less-expensive steel fork!)

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  22. those two bicycles look amazing together despite the cultural difference. But then, over their long history, the Dutch and English have much in common along with their many differences ...

    And how great to see the Wine and Cheese cask...I spent a lot of time there years ago, though it looks much sharper now -- an apt backdrop for two beautiful bicycles!

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  23. How funny that the Wine and Cheese cask is so well known! It's just this little place 5 minutes from our house, handy for getting wine and cheese as the name so aptly suggests : ) Incidentally, it is not unusual to find half a dozen vintage 3-speeds parked outside of it, aside from ours.

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  24. That's because vintage bikes like old cheese & bourbon. :)

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  25. Thanks Velouria, I've admired Rivendell for years. Why do you prefer the diamond frame for touring? I've looked some at Velo Orange but Soma is new to me so thanks, Christopher Fotos, for the word there. The ES sounds like a good ride.

    MDI, as for price, I guess what I'm wanting to pinpoint are what ARE the different sets of compromises? I'm not needing to buy a road bike tomorrow so a difference in price is really just a shorter or longer period of waiting while saving up. I can/ do ride my factory-built Specialized for rather long road treks. It's been good enough for over a decade. But - riding the Oma has spoiled me.

    But I see you've reviewed your Rivendell in your newest post - so I'll move along . . .

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  26. Emma - I hope my review helps. If you can at all plan ahead and afford a $2,000+ bicycle (exact price depends on components), I would recommend the Rivendell Sam Hillborne over anything else on the market, because of its uniquely comfortable geometry. All too often, a roadbike is a compromise between comfort and speed, but having ridden multiple roadbikes now, I honestly feel that the Rivendell gives you both, without compromises. The beautiful lugwork is nice too, but the fantastic ride quality makes the looks seem almost insignificant.

    Why do I prefer a diamond frame for touring, that's a tough one to put into words. I feel that I can balance and maneuver a bike better in a leaned over posture with that bar between my legs. It is an entirely subjective, sensation-driven feeling and I have no idea whether it's my imagination or whether there is something to it in terms of physics. Also, the bicycle is more stable when I am stopped and off my saddle, but still standing over it. Because of the top tube, I can lean it against one of my thighs while I stand over it and drink water, look at my map, or retrieve things from my bag. A mixte is more likely to slide or fall over. I should add that I do not ride in skirts while on a roadbike, so the diamond frame does not present an issue in that sense.

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  27. Just posted about this blogpost this morning as I absolutely loved it! I write a blog about intercultural relationships [humans, not bicycles], and stumbled upon this post, and just found it to be super enchanting. Check it out: www.lifeslayercake.com

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  28. As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
    I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
    Browsing at wahooart.com the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, http://EN.WahooArt.com/@/EdwardHopper ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
    Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.

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