Monday, June 10, 2013

American Vintage

Remember the scene in Breaking Away at the end of the movie when Dave says to the new French co-ed, "mon dieu, ze French riders, zey are ze best!" Something close to that at least! At this point, post pump-in-the-spoke, he has totally given up on the mystique and sex appeal of being Italian and has found his new muse.

Greatest. Movie. Ever.

(Oh, be sure to check out this page and this page if you ever visit Bloomington! How many spots are still there?)

I can't say I've gone that far, but after relocating back to New England, it seems there are far fewer Italian vintage bikes to be found and I need to change nazioni. Fortunately, there's plenty of American bike history to be found here in Connecticut, once a hotbed of bicycle production.

The town of Torrington, for example, started as a wool mill town but quickly progressed to brass, sewing needles and eventually bicycle production. Torrington pedals are the standard for vintage American lightweights of a certain period, and the Torrington Company (the former Excelsior Needle Company) was once one of the largest bearing manufacturers in the world. The company at one point worked on the needle bearings for the Cannondale Headshok... 147 years after the formation of the original firm!

This American vintage wormhole has led me to 'new' brands like Iver Johnson, Persons, Lobdell, Torrington, New Departure and Mesinger. I ended up getting a couple Mesinger saddles and much to my surprise, one of them is stamped "Bethel, Conn."!  Hey, I work there!

New Lobdell wood rims for my Iver Johnson

Mesinger saddle from Bethel, CT!

I'm not sure where this will take me. Hopefully I'll be so enamoured with riding my Iver Johnson path racer that it will just end there... but I doubt it!


  1. Not yet. I think I'll stick to the path racers for now.

  2. Breaking Away is certainly the best cycling movie ever! For Italian food movies, I declare BIG NIGHT the winner.
    We'll see you one of these days at l'Eroica, you can ride free when you're over 60, only a couple years from now for me!