24 June 2014

Mystery Machine, Part I

photo 1 (2)













While looking for a Dutch bike, (or Hollandrad as the Germans call them) on the local classifieds, I spotted what, initially, I thought was a Dutch bicycle, but turned out to be something completely different. Reading the description didn’t provide much information other than it was mechanically operational, it was from India, and it was produced by a company called Avon Cycles Limited. A quick Google search produced nothing but the company’s cluttered webpage, touting themselves as the “Largest Manufacturer Exporter from India”. On their site they sell some pretty strange bicycles with names like  “Magic”, “Passion” and “Kool Pro”, while also offering more traditional roadsters, one of which is remarkably similar to the one for sale.

photo 2 (2)

I made arrangements to go check out the bike, with some help from translation software (although it would turn out the gentlemen selling the bike was Greek and spoke English very well) and the Mrs. and I drove out to the neighboring village to see it. In person, it looked much older, covered in dust and a dead insect or two, but the svelte ruggedness of a roadster was still present. The gentleman said the condition was mostly attributed to it sitting in his garage for the past couple years. It was a single-speed with a steel frame, full chain case, rod brakes and a dynamo that powered a front and rear light. Everything was original, with the exception of the saddle, which he said was made of paper, and disintegrated in the rain. I’ve never seen a paper saddle before, but I’ve also never been to India, so I will take his word for it. This was not a big disappointment, however, as he replaced that saddle with a Brooks B130, which is worth about €130 ($175), the same price as the bicycle itself.

photo 3

I took it for a quick test ride, and although it creaked and moaned, it felt mechanically sound. The riding posture is very upright, which is what I was looking for, and the saddle is very comfortable. Also, we tested the dynamo lights, which still work (and are required by German law). With a little bit of restoration-- removing surface rust, lubrication, etc.-- it will be in proper riding order in no time. So, of course, I bought it.

The question now, is what is the story behind this bike? I don’t know how it came to be in Germany, I don’t know how old it is, and I don’t know much about Avon Cycles. When I do find the answers to these questions, and I get this bike restored, I will follow up with Part II.

- Bicyclist Abroad

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