Ordinary or Oddity?

It is an eye opener to realise that what one person considers ordinary can be considered someone else’s oddity.
Now i am not talking about the national kafuffle that is the sort of singing, sort of dancing, X factor stars Jedward but predictably enough for a cycle blog i am talking about bicycles.

At ‘really useful bikes’ we pride ourselves on stocking or trying to stock bicycles that fulfil a function, bikes that will help you go about your business more quickly, in a more society friendly way, keeping you fit, low maintenance and always ready to ride, you might think is a silly thing to say when a bicycle’s prime purpose is to provide mobility, all bike shops sell bikes like that don’t they?…

Historically the bicycle in the UK was all about going from A to B, my granddad rode a bike to work, used to tell me a story about being strafed by a Messerschmitt in a south coast country lane, he ended up unharmed (but shaken) upside down in a ditch, it was one of my favourite stories…bikes were part of the everyday… ye olde shoppe keepers delivered things with bikes, they were essential transport to get to work, bikes were an essential tool for social mobility and a definite business advantage.
These days the UK cycle shops contain mainly sports cycles, cycles that my granddad would have marvelled at and indeed i too am in awe of some of them….wonderful things made of angel wings and showered with a lusty techno dust, ride down glaciers and up walls, very clever, very sexy.

What i am getting at is that what was common place 50 or 60 years ago is now out of the ordinary, there are few ‘sit up and beg’ bikes on the streets, no magazines for practical bikes, no forums (a bad thing?) and very little provision for them in shops. On the continent the design of their cities and an educated euro mentality has meant that bicycle design there has continued mainly in the ‘city bikes’ guise with sports bikes taking a back seat (but still definitely catered for). In the UK the emphasise is definitely on sports bikes to such an extent that a rack on a bike is often an afterthought, a basket on the front is a quaint addition to put your gingham teacloth and carafe of Pims in
Maybe this is a little to do with our terrain but I suspect more to do with fashion and the lure of the filthy lucre, we live in a society that craves technology and newer sparklier things, modern sports bikes pander to that fashion. Successive governments have not helped and we have seen the rise of the motor car used as a indicator of national success to the detriment of our local quality of life (IMHO) but let’s leave that one alone…

The bikes we offer you are not oddities, they are out of the ordinary but with a traditional and simple function, we see bikes as practical transport, as part of the everyday. We hope that what you see on our website and our slightly dishevelled show space is a catalyst for a new way of living, a snapshot of the future. a modern practical future for bicycles that have their foundations in the past.
The bikes we offer you are not oddities, you’re just not used to seeing them.

4 thoughts on “Ordinary or Oddity?

  1. Mega article Rob. Think you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

    When I worked at Oxford Cycle Workshop i had a lot of customers wanting baskets on their to carry their books, shopping and even pets. When in Cambridge visiting Doug at Dutchbike.co.uk i noticed a similar level of practical carriers. But these cities are well ahead of other towns with cycling levels of about 20 percent. Perhaps its in part to do with students..but it is obvious people of all ages use bikes to get themselves and their stuff around efficiently. Like here in Ámsterdam. I hope other towns catch up. The town centre in Cambridge is basically carfree and so much more welcoming as a result.

    Keep up the good work and greetings from a wet Amsterdam.

  2. …oh and it aint really that wierd to have 2 bicycles. one practical for everday transport and another for racing on or off the road. it still works out cheaper than a car. and anyway how hard is it to get your kicks in a sports car unless you have the time and money to race on a track or go offroading!

    ride bikes!

  3. ‘Basically car free’ is a nice thought, the best bits of Bristol are the bits that are car free, the harbourside for one, the Bristol Bath path for another,its great to have a space just for people, walking talking, unhurried and safe…

    owning two bikes is good, bikes are all different, i think its knowing that there is a choice is the important thing for this moment in time. You don’t have to have your head down and your arse in the air just to get a pint of milk from the shops. Its particulary relevent at the moment that milk can also be obtained using a bicycle without getting a wet line up your back.

    good to hear from you Alexis…

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