I Don't Want You, But I Need You... When Bike Love Turns Irrational

Once in a while, I see a bicycle that is completely unnecessary for my lifestyle, and perhaps even impossible to ride given my skill level... And yet, that bicycle fills me with desire. Here are three bad-boys that evoke these conflicted feelings. (For maximum enjoyment, I suggest playing "You Really Got a Hold on Me" as background music.)

[Rivendell Bombadil, fitted with cream Fat Frank tires. Image from Bearded Peter]

The Bombadil is a clear-coated, lugged steel mountain bike from Rivendell. It is completely rigid (no front or rear suspension), and comes with a double-top-tube frame. I see myself as a Warrior Princess seated high over the fearsome double top-tubes and hopping over roots and rocks with wild abandon - my hair fluttering in the wind like a fiery trail and my face streaked with dirt (attractively accentuating my cheekbones)... Of course, I really should learn to at least mount and dismount a bike properly before entertaining such fantasies...

[A.N.T. Basket Bike, lady's frame, in blue-gray. Image from antbike]

Here is my most recent forbidden love: the A.N.T. Basket Bike, lady's frame. I do not require a specialised basket bike. But every time I look at this photo, I want to cry. It is so beautiful, and I have never seen anything quite like it. (Yes, I know that the idea of a transport bike with a small front wheel is not new, but they did not usually come with such graceful frames.) I absolutely love the classic Porteur chaincase, and that slate gray is one of my favourite colours. The overall look is at once so vintage and so modern and so... poetically eccentric, that my very soul cries out for it. Yes, my soul. These are some heavy feelings I am sharing with you.

[Royal H. Cycles, track bike. Image from Royal H.]

And finally, the most bizarre crush I've had: This is a track bike by Royal H. Cycles. The enormous frame is painted cream, and the lugs are meticulously outlined in a rich orange. I can't explain why I have such a strong reaction to it. I can't ride fixed gear to save my life, and I don't like orange. But I look at it, and it just seems so... perfect. If I gaze at it for too long, I feel the need to learn how to ride fixed immediately. And also to stroke it and feed it caramels while whispering sweet nothings in its ear... Is that wrong?


  1. That Bombadil has to be the most urbane mountain bike ever. It's a mountain bike in a tuxedo, sipping a martini. It's James Bond the mountain bike. I can understand your wistful sighs - and the colour combination helps too. It wouldn't be the same bike in, for example, yellow with black tyres.

    The ANT is a very elegant example of its kind. I'm sure one day you'll find you DO have a need for a basket bike ;-). Have you given this a test ride, or would you rather it remain as a piece of perfection in your mind, so that if it has any flaws you'll never find them out?

    The track bike - I think the lugs may be calling to you, orange outline or not. It's a very classic shape, and that buttery yellow is rather lovely. The height of the seat vs. the height of the handlebars is just a little terrifying though!

  2. I think the urban look of the Bombadil in that photo is mostly due to the components the owner fitted it with - the cream tires, upright handlebars, single-speed, etc. Here is a more typical set-up that makes it look more mountain-bikey. If it were my bike, I would set it up exactly as "Bearder Peter" did, only with a derailleur.

    Re the track bike... I don't know, I have seen loads of lugged track bikes and never wanted them - But this one spoke to me. I generally love Royal H.'s designs and think that Bryan (the owner) has a good eye for aesthetics. Not all frame builders do.

    The ANT basket bike, oh man. Thankfully I have never seen the one in the photo in person. When I was there for the Open House they only had the men's red and black version. It was neat, but did not pull at my heartstrings like the gray lady's model.

  3. That track bike is like James Dean. I think many moms warned their daughters against such.

  4. hah! The Bombadil (Tom?) looks like what I would envision if someone described to me a steampunk mountain bike -- it's utterly gorgeous, but I (unfortunately?) have a hard time seeing what benefit a fully rigid steel framed MTB really is.

    I have no comment on the ANT basket bike other than "Damn, I wish I had that thing on those big grocery shopping days."

    The RHC track bike, however... is PURE SEX. I have a real weakness for "traditional" road geometry (top tube parallel, low bars, high but not insane saddle position...), and though I would certainly prefer a freewheel and a brake, this bike is truly beautiful.

    Just found your blog BTW via ecovelo! lovely work, fellow Bostonian!(?)

  5. Astroluc - Ah, I "know" you from your comments on BSNYC :) Welcome. Yes, I am based in Boston now, though I commute to Europe for work every few months. Not on a bike.

    I will go ahead and confess that I like steampunk. That is probably why both the Bombadil and the gray ANT Basket Bike appeal to me. Steampunk deluxe?

    I agree about the "pure sex" and Steve A.'s James Dean comment. Good point about road geometry: maybe it's the symmetry of it all that attracted me, without my being explicitly aware of it.

  6. Your lust for the track bike totally cracks me up! I love it. I sometimes sing a song to myself called "I can't stop my bike" when I see fixed-gear newbies doing all sorts of stupid looking stuff to stay on their bikes. They are kind of a menace in Brooklyn. The trend here is so intense. I don't know how it is in other places.

    I have wanted the basket bike since I first saw it. It is STUNNING. That color is gorgeous, too.

  7. Everyone is avoiding the obvious, that an intervention for you is in the cards.
    Seriously, your taste is sublime, if ever i come into an inheritance, I will get you to spend it for me.
    I can't believe the Bombadil is called a mountain bike...

  8. HA! You've found a circa 2009-2010 MTB pretty enough for you! Alrighty then.
    OMG... thank heavens it's not an old MTB ;) hint: to your readers this alludes to a previous comment/response found here and the comment exchange is towards the end.

    Filigree, You are becoming a style arbitrator in fine and lovely bicycles which now includes MTBs... will wonders ever cease ;)
    Awesome! Hurray! Keep up the good work!

    Beware: Acquiring new Bicycles can become an addiction. I use to have a shoe addiction...guess what it is now. Go figure.

  9. Anon - No danger of my being a menace, at least not in Brooklyn... why I have the whole of Somerville as my playground!

    david - Thankfully I only fantasize and write about them, not buy them : ) Well, for the most part...

    RidingPretty - Ah, but this is a "pretty-boy" mountain bike; it is the exception to the rule. The majority of '90s mountain bikes (one of which I still have in the basement form my high school days) are not my cuppa tea. I do agree though that they make good commuter conversions.

  10. Even in the midst of irrational bike love, your impeccable taste remains. Very nice obsessions :) I know all about irrational bike love. I really want a hot pink Little Black Dress from Sweetpea (even though I don't ride drop-bar racy bikes) and a Pashley (even though I already have a ladylike city bike). They are simply too pretty.

  11. On the topic of bike lust - you mentioned in a past post something like a "town & country" bike? I think that may be what I'm looking for. Can I describe it that way to the bike shop and they'll know what I'm talking about?

    I'd like a step-through frame and upright seat/handlebar position with nice sweeping shapes and a chain guard - something graceful that will work as a road bike/ loaded touring/ grocery/ commuter? Where can you steer me to start?

    I love the looks of the Pashley but don't think so heavy a bike will work with my hill. And I like my gears. And I'm not looking to rebuilding. I've admired Rivendell bikes for years, not knowing what made them different (I'm learning) - but how is the Betty Foy different from a Princess or a Workcycle or a Raleigh as far as hills, carrying loads, long rides? (such lame beginner questions - gotta start somewhere)

    Thanks for all the great information on this site.

  12. Emma - For what you are describing, I'd recommend one of the new ANT mixtes (see here for a cream example and a black one), or the Rivendell Betty Foy.

    The differences between these bikes and the Pashley are weight, ability to accelerate, and maneuverability. They are generally more responsive, more nimble bikes.

    No bike can work as both a roadbike and a grocery getter in a way that will be satisfactory. But a commuter/grocery bike can have a sporty twist that will make it comfortable to ride on the road for long stretches. I think that both the ANTs and the Rivendell would be excellent for that purpose; it is just a matter of your personal aesthetics and budget. Hope this helps, and of course this is all just my opinion.

  13. And the Betty Foy has the best lugs ever :-)

  14. Carinthia - I have to admit that heart designs on lugs are not my thing, plus I don't love the way the rear stays connect to the seat lug - but all this is just my personal bizarro taste. I much prefer the toned down lugs and classic seat cluster on the Sam Hillborne, the men's counterpart to Betty - but I don't think most women feel the same.

  15. It's not so much the heart shape, but the curlicues at the bottom of the lugs. Curlicues... it's the only word to describe those frivolous designs :-)

  16. I love that Bombidil! [the way Pete set it up, not the Riv way], great style and colors. They should call it the "Sexbombidil"

  17. Filigree: ". . . all this is just my personal bizarro taste. I much prefer the toned down lugs and classic seat cluster on the Sam Hillborne,"

    I find your particular example of bike lust a bit strange, but I'm with you on the lugs. If I had a full custom Riv made I'd specify the simple lugs; although the fancy fork crown is nicer than their plain one.

    Emma: Can you give some detail about what it is that you find unsatisfactory about your current bike; and what features you might like to retain?

  18. Carinthia - I like frivolous designs : )

    Mike - yup, that's the best Bombadil setup I have seen.

    kfg - how can lust be strange? The heart wants what the heart wants...

  19. Filigree: "how can lust be strange?"

    By the heart wanting what the heart wants. Me, I want 110/74 BCD Campy Nouvo Record cranks for my Quickbeam (the best mountain bike I've ever owned) so my heart is inherently shit outta luck.

  20. I love them all, especially the basket bike. Take away the racks and fenders, and you have a pretty good idea of what the early (pre-1990 or so) mountain bikes were like. There was no suspension bike then, and aluminum was just starting to see significant usage on mountain bike frames. In fact, the very first mountain bikes (ca 1970) were converted baloon-tired Schwinns from the 1930's and '40's.

    I've heard that in those early days of mountain biking, the rigs were used to transport a Northern California cash crop. And I ain't talkin' about zinfandel grapes!

  21. The Bombadil is indeed very, very nice. although I see it more as a fat tired Roadster rather than an MTB. As mentioned above, it's definitely a throwback to the MTB's of twenty years ago. This is not surprising as its a Rivendell.

    Roadsters are currently occupying the top spot in my personal "Don't Need, But I Want" list. British racing green with creme tires please. And a dash of steampunk mixed in. (can't have the roadster clashing with my brass goggles and all)


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