Vintage Wheels

Many decades ago, long before folders were of much interest to anyone in the USA, I bought a used Italian folding bicycle.  It was (and is) quirky and cute, but I haven’t been able to ride it for years, owing to several disability issues.  Now that Pegasus, my trike, has contributed to masking or minimizing some of those issues, I’ve dusted off my WIP Arianna Week End folder, and am riding her on local trails.

The wire baskets, which fold nicely against the rack, weren’t original; I added them when I bought the bike.  They’re Walds, of course, and each perfectly hold a grocery bag.  A clip at the top keeps them folded when not in use.  The wicker basket is new; it’s meant for a child’s bike, but is perfectly-sized for Arianna.  I didn’t want to add a water bottle cage to my vintage folder, so I just pop the bottle into this basket.

Arianna came with a charming little bell, now (as then) somewhat marred by time and damp; it’s marked “San Cristoforo”, who is, of course, the patron saint of travelers.

Other quirky touches include the red grips

white rubber pedals

the red and white saddle (much in need of restoration)

and this adorable little sleeve for the end of the hand brake cable:

Outfitted with new tires, tubes, and brake pads (there’s a coaster brake, and an ancillary handbrake), Arianna was ready to go.  I was stunned at how easily she rolls; it was a bit of a shock to realize how hard I have to work to move Pegasus, even with his six speeds.  Pegasus tops out at about 70 pounds, not counting any cargo; Arianna is probably around 30-35 pounds.  The difference in effort required to move each is huge.

Arianna is a one-speed, so I won’t be tackling any hills with her.  Though she folds, it’s actually easier to transport her as an unfolded, small bike.  The folded configuration is a bit clumsy, and the sides of the folded bike must be strapped together to keep them from opening when carried.  On the other hand, the quick-release on the handlebars make it simple to turn them so that they line up with the chassis, which makes for a very slim profile for storage in the unfolded position.

Arianna still needs a lot of polishing and cleaning, but she is a nifty little machine, and it’s going to be a lot of fun using her to determine if two wheels are a viable alternative for some of my cycling.  I took the top picture on her maiden voyage on a local (level) trail, and I’ll now be tracking my mileage with her, along with the miles I ride on Pegasus.  I believe that my folder was manufactured in 1968, which makes her 44 years old; it’s amazing how well basic, solid, technology holds up.

Arianna, this trip:  6 miles


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