Better than new, sort of

Jeunet vintage bicycleIt was gorgeous. A 1974 Jeunet Franche-Comte bicycle. There’s something about seeing a perfect vintage object that almost can take my breath away.

I stopped to take a photo. The young owner came up while I was still admiring the art. He said a man printed up replica decals for restoration projects. The details weren’t perfect… It was a fixie instead of a 10-speed. The rims were of the modern tall style. The brakes were a replica of the German Weinmann brand, instead of the original French Mafacs. The handlebars were flat. But it was beautiful.

Even though newer bikes can run circles around this baby, it has a style that cannot be matched.


p.s. My Gitane is from the same era. I have made too many modifications for it to be close to the showroom-floor state.


Transmission overkill

merc-9spThe 2012 Mercedes S-Class sedans will have 9-speed transmissions. The idea is for them to have the smoothest and quietest shifts you can get.

To me, it’s overkill. Yes, refinement is great, but it is worth the extra expense? Our Honda minivan has a 5-speed transmission, which is wonderful. At highway speeds, it’s purring along at a very low rate of rpm’s. Our Toyota sedan makes do with just a 3-speed. That bothers me a bit, knowing that it would save some fuel if the engine spun at lower rpm’s in top gear.

I remember 10-speed bicycles being an innovation in the USA. My 1972 Gitane road bike came with a 10-speed. I upgraded it to a 12. Today most road bikes have 27 speeds. I’d be happy with 18. (Actually, I am happy with 12 – but I’d appreciate the difference 18 would add to my cycling experience.)