August 16th, 2010

Velorbis Scrap Deluxe [Review]

A few weeks ago I wrote a technical review of the Velorbis Churchill Classic, and learned how to boost hits to my blog: write reviews on new bikes! No wonder bloggers' reviews are so cynical. I hope you will find that mine aren't. For information on Velorbis bikes generally, and in particular some of the pitfalls associated with their conversion to SRAM S7 gear, I refer you to my earlier review. The present review focuses on issues specific to the Scrap Deluxe ladies model.

an earlier scrappier model, with a simple clear coat finish over raw metal

As an architect raised on Ruskin, Loos and Le Corbusier's late "Brutalist" works, I will say I find it somewhat a pity how the Scrap Deluxe is no longer so scrappy. The ubercool clear-coat finish, exposing brazing filler dribbling from lugs, has given way to a conventional grey metal paint job. I suppose one might lay blame at a conservative market for the maker's conservative decision to hide those noble scars, that gave earlier models their designerly cred.
However, comparing these photos with the one above of an original model, I am inclined to agree with market forces. The sell-out version is a more eye catching bike. The industrial, minimalist, mock-Modernist air may even be more pronounced, while the cream balloon tires look white chocolate flavoured on their clean silver plate. The contradistinction established by setting leather accessories against silver, polished stainless and chrome, make the former look so organic, a faint mooing sound can almost be heard.

Three things strike you when you hop on for a ride: the spring of the frame; the upright position and; speed.

There is a reason cro-mo bikes were used in the Tour of France long after aluminium provided a lighter and stiffer alternative. Cro-mo is spring-like. On a women's frame with no top tube, a good inch of travel is afforded, though without the energy sapping effect of actual suspension. Throw in an additional half inch of travel through the balloon tires (inflated to about 25lb) and you are riding a bike that literally bounces over the kinds of surface irregularities one encounters in cities.

The upright ride, though, does come at a cost. Stand to pedal and you find the handlebars touching your waist. Put some power down, and the frame starts flexing from one one side to the other. Where does this lead? Hmm, well, it could lead to driving! If your bike is no fun riding up hills, you might think twice about riding to places you can't reach on the flat. I'll go out on a limb here, and say those bikes you see girls riding on Copenhagen cycle chic, could be doing to those girls' cycling, what their stilettos do their walking, which is to slow them down and thus make them more attractive to men. (Feminist remarks are not taken well when coming from men, but I've said it now, ha!) At least Velorbis do not use townie bars, that bring a woman's hands to her side when she is climbing and that hit her thighs when she is negotiating tight circles. At least too the bars on the Velorbis can be lowered and pushed forward enough to make short climbs not an absolute pain. The bike remains feminine, though not cripplingly so, in the way that high heels are.

On the flat, down hill, or with the wind at your back, these bikes seem to utterly fly! It's the bounce that gives this impression. You find yourself seeking out ruts in the road, wanting to barge through, ride over lawns, and generally pretend this is a hovercraft. In modern youthful parlance, it fricking rips.

On the strength of evidence presented thus far, you might think this review is heading toward the Dr. Behooving tick of approval. But gentlemen, consider this, how since owning one of these bikes my lovely Primrose has provided every man in this town with the conversation starter he hitherto lacked. Now though, on any given day, my lovely Primrose receives more compliments for her cute bike, than a hot blind chick would get in her lifetime for her cute lab. Thus my thumbs-up comes with a caveat, that the Scrap Deluxe ladies model, only be bought as a gift for unmarried women—women who I would like to say hi to.

Next my Primrose will be riding in heels!!!!