Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Bike, then and now

This was my bike when I was a kid.  A Schwinn Stingray with no gears.
It was the same color and had the same kind of seat. My seat was purple with little sparkles embedded in it that shone in the sun. I called them "banana seats" and they were the most comfortable seat ever, as I recall.
What a ride!
My bike meant freedom to me. With it, I felt like I could go anywhere I wanted. I petaled or pushed uphills and came zooming down. I traveled to distant towns.  I went over to my friends house, and I could do it all by myself.  I don't remember any trouble with maintenance or flat tires.  I was a child with alot on the mind.  Out on an adventure, I could get my head together. I trusted my bike to get me there.   I never wore a helmet and do remember an occasional wipe out. There were days when I thought I hated my bike, but I always came back for more.  On my own time.  True autonomy.

As an adult, I still prefer autonomy.  Living in a small town with a bike trail that runs through it and out and beyond both ends provides a nostalgic feel to  me. I see the trail through the eyes of the child that was. I think she would have enjoyed this place. 

My current ride is now 6+ years old. A red Hawaii Cruiser by Electra.  It has 3 speeds,internal Shimano and no banana seat.  I love it! Several times a week, I use it for commuting 5 miles each way. Still has the original decorative tires and never had a maintenance other than a bi-yearly spring tuneup.  It has traveled in mud, rain, ice, sleet, fog and dark moonless evenings.

One night I rode home in especially low visibility due to thick fog, I rode right past a horse on the trail. I didn't even see it and only heard a small whinny as I past. The rider must have seen my lights and got out of the way. 

After caked-on mud and hard country living, she still cleans up well!

Electra Bicycle Company
Vista, California
Founded: 1993 

Benno Bänziger, a Swiss national, grew up in the Swiss Embassy in West Berlin, fascinated with California and action sports. When he was a teenager, he began designing and manufacturing snowboards in Germany. Bänziger moved to California after graduating with a degree in graphic design. Banziger founded his own firm, Projekt Design, in 1990 while doing work for other companies.
As Bänziger told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “The one thing I found when I looked at cycling in the US was that everything was some kind of sport, but very few people used bikes for fun or for transportation. I wanted to introduce the ‘having a bike in your life’ factor, as opposed to ‘being a cyclist.’'

Founding the Company

Classic Electra Headbadge
At the time, there were very few cruisers, the classic “fun” bike, on the market. “Back in 1993, there were no cruisers available,” Erforth told the Carlsbad Local News, “You could buy a $99 Huffy at Wal-Mart, or you could try to find an old one and restore it, which is very expensive,”  Bänziger decided there was a market niche for a stylish, affordable cruiser bicycle for twenty somethings and began working on designs that combined classic looks with contemporary technology. About this time, Bänziger met Jeano Erforth, a fellow German transplant who was selling pieces of the Berlin Wall. Erforth said he could sell the kind of bikes Bänziger was designing, so the two pooled $30,000 in personal savings and founded Electra Bicycle Company. 
 At first, "Dealers laughed at us," says Bänziger. "But people realized they didn't need a mountain bike to go to the grocery store." ] However, when bike shops tried stocking the Electras, they began to sell, and word-of-mouth convinced more dealers to sign on. In fact, the fledging company’s cruiser sales were so strong that larger firms were spurred to start offering their own cruiser models. Today, Electras are available in bike shops throughout Europe, the USA, Japan and Australia.
Electra advertising in the early days focused on the company’s combination of classic looks with more modern features, such as aluminum frames and multiple speeds, with the tag line “Modern cruisers, with modern components, for modern people.”

Bänziger says, "We’ve spent the last eleven years making casual cycling cool." "We’ve begun to fulfill our original dream, which was to make bikes for the people who would not normally ride. We are suddenly riding an incredible wave."  In fact, bike shops report that Electras are selling “obnoxiously well."

So, there you have it, my electra love!
"Official bike of nothing official"

1 comment:

Bike Parts Solutions said...

Much thanks for sharing something special in your life! Your bikes and overall cycling experience is indeed inspiring!