Vintage bicycles follow design, not efficiency

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Man w vintage bicycle in Brussels

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Europe remains faithful to vintage bikes, while North America is still obsessed with new bikes

“Vintage bikes are not that big in America. If they do have a vintage bike, they sell them because they think they are worthless because they are old. Then they invest hundreds of dollars in a new bike that looks like the old ones. I enjoy vintage things and bikes were made beautifully, There was thought put into it. The vintage bikes are not so much about efficiency, but the design themselves…

“This is a nice bike. It is very light – I like it. It was also very cheap. I have had it just over a year. I have a plastic bag over my seat. That is because I checked and it is quite expensive, more expensive than the bike itself, so I do not want to lose it. I found this bike online, but I had another one, actually. I went to Brugges for a walk and there was a guy selling his bike outside his house. There was a sign that said knock on the door, and I did, and 20 Euros later it was mine.  I put it on the train and brought it here, and it got stolen a week later.  It was in nicer shape than this one – it just got stolen.”

Photographer’s notes: I have a treasure in my house. A real Hobbit moment where I stroke my precious, delighted to have it near. It is my old racing bike, circa 1976. It is an old MKM that was repainted after Cyclops Cycles, a brilliant, now gone, Canadian frame builder, rebuilt the frame after it was struck by a drunk driver.

It never crossed my mind to discard the bike. It had taken me through three race seasons and was a smooth ride.

It would become my city bike as well as the bike I rode through Africa on a long tour. In short, it was versatile.

Vintage bikes have a wider history. In Europe, they are scarcely treasured. They are used. Still part of a daily life.

Mine, too. But soon it will be on a wall and part of the design of my loft. A bike that will still function, but will rest in retirement, most days. But it will never be sold. You do not sell something that has been with you for decades.

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