Friday, 23 March 2012

Call that a bike?

THIS is a bike!

I went down to Oxford yesterday to pick up this little beauty. While gazing out of the window at the gentle green beauty of the Oxfordshire countryside, I spied four figures on horseback crossing the fields. Looking more closely I realised that they were David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, George Osborne and Jeremy Clarkson. Hunting pensioners.

It's a good job I was going to Oxford anyway - being an absolute spanner, I'd left the free book I'm reviewing for the LSE Review of Books on a train. The only copy I could find in the country was at Blackwell's, a divine book shop. I couldn't even buy one online, thanks to my bank card being defrauded and blocked within a week of arriving. I really resent having to spend actual money on it, as it's one of the most dishonest and unpleasant books I've ever read - and I've read Martin Amis.

Obviously I couldn't buy just the one book: I came away with Sowell's Intellectuals and Society (the one I'm reviewing - watch this space), a really beautiful second-hand copy of C. Day Lewis's Selected Poems (in the 1951 Penguin Poets edition):

…a classic 1962 orange Penguin copy of Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, Josipovici's What Ever Happened To Modernism (looks flawed but pungent), Stefan Collini's feisty What Are Universities For? and a cheap used copy of Trollope's gargantuan The Prime Minister, mostly to hold doors open. Despite his misogyny and dubious politics, I'm on a Trollope kick at the moment. But if you think that Foster Wallace and Rowling needed a stern editor, you should try Trollope. Good for self-defence, I guess.

But the actual purpose of my jaunt was to collect my new/old bike. It's a mid-1960s Moulton F-frame (that video is wonderful). Stiff, heavy steel frame, the first bike to have suspension (front and rear) and a bit of an icon in its day. They're still made, but as the entry level one is about £3000 stretching to £15,000, I'll be content with my old one.

It's a beauty. Paul - who restored it then realised that his young family has more bikes than people and space - added a lighter seat post, racing saddle, a light headset with racing bars and decent modern brakes, a 7-speed internal hub gear, and Schwalbe Kojak tyres (i.e. bald, for speed). It's enamelled in stove-grey, and looks absolutely stunning. It sure doesn't look or ride like a 40-50 year old bike.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you The Midnight Vole.

Look: no logos!


neal said...

As yet I am unsure why you are quite so excited about these bikes, but I will look forward to giving it a little spin and reserve judgement until then.

neal said...

That video is splendid though, "The whole family can ride it without embarrassment". Nice jazz soundtrack too.

The Plashing Vole said...

It's a lovely bit of history - the video that is. You're very welcome to have a go on the bike. It's a total joy to ride.

Grumpy Bob said...

A very neatly updated bike, I'd say. Though it's not the first full suspension bike (those existed in the 19th Century, in the days of solid tyres and rubbish road surfaces).

Tim said...

These bikes are amazing; I want one. Bike envy.