I often stop to gawk at bikes locked to the bike racks and fences of Hartford and beyond. When talking bikes with friends, it's common for one of us to say, "I saw a cool old blahdiddyblah road bike outside of the library the other day, I've always liked those..." so I thought I would make a series out of documenting some of the street seen velocipedes in Hartford. Barring my coming up with a more clever name, I'm calling the series "Bikes Outside."
I'm shamelessly borrowing this concept from Jalopnik's Down on the Street series, where street-parked classic cars are documented. The rules will be similar. The bikes have to be seen out and about. This is all about bicycles being used for their more utilitarian intended purposes. Bikes on display for sale in front of a shop or at a flea market don't count (I can still post them if they are awesome, they just won't be eligible for this series). Maybe your own bike will be spotted sometime.
Our first entry was spotted in the Northeast neighborhood near the Windsor line. It has two features from the list of things that make me like a bike, in that it has a lugged frame and it is a mixte. I'm not familiar with the Cambridge brand (my search engine attempts all led to a [presumably unrelated] bike shop in Cambridge, MA), but it has an entry level bike boom-era look to it. The center-pull brakes are Cambridge-branded, but look identical to some late 70's Dia Compe's I have. The fancy head tube badge and proper-sounding name show its upscale aspirations. Someday I want to join two steel mixte frames of this caliber and make a Sheldon Brown-style D.I.Y. tandem. I would avoid using Peugeots or Motobecanes (as much as I do like them) because modifying frames and piecing together a tandem drivetrain would be difficult enough without having to find French-threaded parts. A couple of beaters like this Cambridge or some neglected Panasonic or Univega mixte frames would be nice donors for such a project. I acquired an old Bridgestone mixte a while back, but the frame isn't steel and it's far too nice to part out or modify. I kind of want to hang it over the mantel and just look at it for a while.
The limp brake lever and slack rear brake cable mean that this Cambridge has only one functioning brake, a disturbingly common affliction among street-parked (and ridden) bikes in Hartford. I have wondered about what to do about this. Maybe I could make some cards or tags to leave on brake-impaired bikes directing them somewhere for cheap or free repairs. Perhaps a pool of functional unwanted brake parts could be established. I'm guessing this brake-impairment is usually due to lack of money or repair know-how on the part of the bike owner, and I'd hate to see someone get in an accident for want of a few simple parts or adjustments.