This week we are crossing a line I had considered with great trepidation and apprehension. For the first (non-postcard or vacation) time, the Bikes Outside lense takes a look at something parked beyond the boundaries of Hartford proper. I've seen plenty of sweet bikes parked in the surrounding suburbs, where the average sweet bike-buying budget per capita is much higher, but felt like broadening the search would make things too easy. I've decided for now that I will allow Bikes Outside the occasional foray beyond city limits for extra special bikes within Greater Hartford.
Today, we find ourselves just two miles from the border established in 1854 by Otto Liebend Blauzurück as "A clear demarcation 'twixt The Spigot and Roger's Package Store, in preparation for the future enforcement of a minimum age for the consumption of spirits." Here, steps from the shopping center that many foolhardy Hartford Advocate readers mistook for a neighborhood in Hartford, this morning's bike was spotted outside of West Hartford Town Hall during the recent MDC public hearing. Aside from its owner being on board for a good cause, this bike has that extra special something that lets it into the rarefied club that is Bikes Outside.
This bike makes the cut because it is a winning mix of elegant lines, quirky components and sturdiness. I always love me some Chicago Schwinn, and the swoopy lines of the traditional American cruiser frame are an enduring form in the bike world for good reason. While seeing a cruiser that isn't a cheap Chinese knockoff is refreshing, it's not enough to land you here, nosiree. This bike goes the extra mile. There's the color: somewhere between coral and brick-house red, dulled and nicked to a comfy patina. There's the front end: a crowned tubular fork (instead of those lame flat bladed ones some Schwinns have) and the massive Wald basket say, "I have arrived, and I brought a 12-pack!" The chrome fenders, random newer stem and springy seat all add to the look, and then there are the brakes!
I am hopelessly fond of drum brakes. My first car had drums all around, my gorgeous, snarling 1970 Triumph had drums front and rear. I have stared in awe of the massive finned aluminum drums on vintage racing motorbikes and cars. Adding drums to a neat old bike is an automatic win for me. I fully understand that disc brakes are the most effective hub-based way to decelerate a wheel, but how can you look at those clunky finned beauties and not be a bit charmed? The rear one in this case has a 5 speed freewheel attached, insuring the rider can climb hills in preparation for some white knuckled brake-warming descents. Good stuff.