Thursday, October 21, 2010

S.S. Dolphin---Fitting Out

I've begun to think of my Dutch Dolphin as a ship...a ship in which I am the Kaptein---Master and Commander. As such, she deserves to be fitted out for duty...duty, which, in this case, is as my unhurried urban commuter. I see voyaging her to distant lands like Berkeley and back, but not much further than that, for she is now tipping the scales at an even 50 lbs with a full water bottle ballast. I must say that on a trip to downtown Oakland today, she performed smoothly with no problems whatsoever. I'm getting used to the gestalt of this ride which is, in a nutshell, getting her up to cruise speed (12mph or so) and holding her there in 2nd gear. The weight carries the bike along on the flats and the gear ratio to keep her rolling is light and spinny at the pedals. It works well and seems effortless. This is by design...I can appreciate that now. On the contrary, going up the slightest incline is felt, and major inclines feel as if the anchor was dropped behind, dragging through the cold mud of the ocean floor.

One of the most pleasant aspects of this bike is that no special wardrobe is required other than my helmet. I get on it in my regular clothes. I don't even have to cuff my right leg. Ah... the freedom to just go! I'm lovin' it.

So let me show you the recent additions I've made to increase the usability of the bike:

Here she is with the recent fitments:
1. Mesenger sprung saddle
2. Bulldog U lock and hanger
3. Water bottle and cage
4. Flash Industries rear basket
5. Inner tube wrap of rear rack
I made the basket from recycled/repurposed dog kennel wire. The flat sheet of wire measured about 3' x 2'. I designed a fold-up box, cut and bent the wire to shape. Note the handy torch-bent hooks on the back of the basket. The basket will easily hold two supermarket bags. I left the rusted oxidation as this speaks of entropy. I also re-purposed some inner tubes by cutting them in half lengthwise, then wrapping the tube around the top rack tubes to protect them from the rusty basket wires. The basket is attached using 4 zip ties. Easy!

Here's the business end of the Mesenger saddle, which is one of my all time best dumpster dive finds. Note the sturdy dual springs. The saddle body is metal, covered in some kind of vinyl. It's heavy, but very comfortable. The bag holds a small adjustable wrench, two metal tire irons, a tube and patch kit. If the rear flats I intend to pull the tube off while still on the bike and patch it as it is too difficult and involved to pull the rear wheel. Trust me on this. That's how they do it over in the old world, so I've been told.

Lastly, this bike does not have bottle cage mounts, so I wrapped a piece of black leather around the downtube, and mantled two automotive hose clamps to the cage. I flame-distressed the clamps with a propane torch to change their color from chrome to burnished metal. I like this treatment and it goes further towards the sub-vibe suggested by the basket. The massive 2.8 lb U lock nicely fills the huge void that is the frame triangle, and suggests nothing less than a piece of ordnance.

Handlebars, arm and shoulder form a circle that subtly highlights the rider’s position. We also test Dolphin behind the scenes with the most current technology. The steel frame absorbs major bumps in the road effectively and small vibrations are transformed into the humming of your balloon tires. You will feel like sauntering to an opera premiere – even if it's only on the way to work." (edited Retrovelo marketing hype)

Another similar in-production bike from the UK, the Pashley

Roadster Sovereign
A whale amongst minnows. This imposing bicycle provides an unsurpassed ride due to it's 28 inch wheels and regal riding position.

The Roadster Sovereign features a traditional lugged frame and five speed hub gears with full chaincase, gold-lined mudguards, steel rear carrier with fold down wheel stand, hub driven dynamo headlamp, LED rear light, frame fit lock, leather sprung saddle and coatguards


Price: $1595

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