In the early 1960s I lived in Nottingham, a part of England's Industrial Midlands area. Raleigh had a huge bicycle factory there, the size of a small city itself.
Raleigh was already showing signs of decline even back then as the working classes all over Europe switched from bicycles to autos as their mode of transport.
Nottingham was also a coal mining area, and you always knew an older coal miner by the little blue scars all over his hands, arms and face.
These were caused by cuts and knicks collected on the job; coal dust had entered the wound, it had healed over leaving a permanent blue tattoo as a reminder.
These men were some of the finest people it has ever been my privilege to meet. Beauty was not in their physical appearance, but in their character.
I drew this analogy when Brian McCoy sent me details of his Fuso for inclusion in my Bike Registry.
A 60cm. 1st Generation Fuso with the serial number 601. The picture included with his email showed a frame that had been well used, but somehow its beauty still shines through.
Brian bought the frame on Craig’s List two years ago; he stated:
“It has the original paint, which is in pretty rough condition. I am happy to have given this beautiful frame a second or possibly third or fourth life.”
My sentiments exactly. While it is highly satisfying for me to see frames I built, often owned by the original owners, and many still in pristine condition.
It is also just as satisfying to see one like this that has been well used, and is still being ridden and enjoyed. I have said many times, I built these bikes not as art objects, but to be ridden.
This bike’s beauty is not in its appearance, it is in its character. There must be several thousand of these frames and bikes gathering dust in people’s basements and garages, and there is no satisfaction in that for me.
That is the purpose behind my Bike Registry to encourage people to let these bikes out of hiding and back on the roads and streets again. That is what gives me real satisfaction.