Postcard From Sweden
[Grant’s been gone for a few weeks, sent this note from Sweden, pasted here for you. Skip to the end for exciting new 64cm Atlantis specs - Dave]
When you’ve seen one oldie, you still haven’t seen them all now, have you? It’s known by the RIVpeoplestaffers and anybody who’s emailed me and rec’d an autoreply that I’m in Sweden now & have been since 8/2, and it’s an ultra rare family vacation financed in part by a $6,000 book royalty (half a year’s sales), and the rest by friend and customer B, who lives here and spent half of our time taking us around to places not even Rick Steve knows about. It’s still expensive, but I sold a Gary Howells fly rod to help pay for it, too. Typically every dime beyond the barest basics goes to tuition, but Katie and Anna are home this summer and won’t be home again in the summer for years to come, and even boo-hoo maybe not for decades——-so this was our shot, and here we are.
At an antique shop today there was a Chinese ivory carving from the late 1800s, about 9-inches high, of a slender Eiffel-tower shaped towery thing made of carved animals and topped with about an inch-and-a-half diameter ball, with three additional balls—all intricately carved and seemingly perfect spheres, and each free-rolling and separate from its neighbors. I’ve always been a sucker for these things, The record is thirteen balls, and this one had just four, but hey.
I asked how much it was. The owner took it out of the case and handed it to me to inspect. I put it down carefully, and he told me it was (in USD) $1,800. But then he said, “That’s negotiable. Some people are rich and can afford it; others like you like it but aren’t rich, and I don’t mind cutting the price. Take a photo of it and think about it.” I’d like to show you my photo, but I left the memory card out of the Sony RX100 camera, so I only thought I got some good ones.
Of course I look at bikes and peek in bike shops when I find them. Yes, I’ve pedaled around Copenhagen, too, and I do all this with the curse that comes from being a one-trick pony bicycle guy, meaning every bike I see gets categorized within a second, and 99 of 100 get forgotten in the next second, because guess what—-the same carnage that’s happened in America has happened here. The fatt tubes, straight forks, tight clearances, and where’d the headset go? that afflicts most of our bikes also afflicts most of theirs.
And for the most part, the “old” bikes are from the eighties and nineties, with now and then a ’70s lugged Crescent or Monarch thrown in there, before both iconic Swedish brands went to China with everybody else. It’s all fine, but makes these other finds more remarkable. Here they are—two bikes shot with my wife’s iPhone after I discovered I’d forgotten to re-insert the mem card from my last downloading. There would’ve been more. That’s digital for you, but it makes sense for stuff like this. I brought film too, and Anna brought her Olympus OM-1 and her Mamiya 7II, if that means anything.
I’ll show the iphonepix here without commentary, because if they require it, it wouldn’t reach you—which is nobody’s fault, just a sad fact.
A point worth making and one that’s not obvious is that these bikes were probably nice in their day because somebody took some time with things that don’t, from a strictly function point of view, require it. That is KIND of what we’re trying to do, and it’s the thing you keep going when you buy something here, because that’s how it happens. This is not a plea to keep it up, just a pat on for what you’ve done.
The enduring beauty in these bikes is in the metal, for the most part. No amount of time can make it go away and leave these bikes generic. That’s a good thing about lugs, and nice looking ones at that. I had no idea this was going on in the ’40s or whenever these bikes were made.
I know there are some modern bikes that look nice, but nice or not, I don’t see the same stuff in them as I see in these. I’m not tricked by modern retro-attempts at artistry, by show bikes that are trying to romanticize the coal miner’s bike or the baguette-delivery boy’s bike, with—well, it’s not easy or nice to think or write descriptively about what I mean, and on the other hand, I’ve seen a zillion old bikes that don’t do it for me, either. I like our lugs, but I see them in a context in which they still don’t measure up to the art you see here, but they have their strengths, and the strengths are stronger now than they would have been then.
I also have some ideas for bikes that are wrong for the times, but in a couple of years I won’t care and we’ll do them, anyway. When you get this way and to this point, sometimes a creative-indulgent-impatient combo gets to you, and it’s easy not to care about the reaction—like, I just want to DO this, put out 500 of them, place them on the earth and then fast-forward the time machine and watch them age and continue to work and be beautiful old and as viable as bikes in fifty years as now. That’s not a clear explanation, but it’s clear in my head and I don’t have the time right now to work it out. The last photo: Dig that chainstay-clamping C. The whole guard is more beautiful because it was never on a screen. Maybe this was a fop’s bike, it’s hard to say, but over time that part fades and this is what’s left, locked to a pole in Stockholm about a lifetime later, I’d say. Sorry I screwed up with the memory card, or there would have been more. Well….so much for “without commentary,” I guess, but what I meant was that I wasn’t going to point out details you’d see for yourself, anyway—-although I did do that with the C-clamp on that chainguard.
Official 2014 64cm Atlantis Geometry
Here’s the Current 64cm Atlantis Geometry, people have been emailing me:
72 seat x 72 head
upslope 2.5 deg
TT length 62.5