Ambush Makeover, Bicycle Edition
Did you ever see that TV show Ambush Makeover? The cast would snag some frumpy-looking person off the streets of NYC and have professionals style their hair, apply makeup, dress them in a flattering outfit, then bring them back in front of the cameras for everyone to admire. You get the idea. Anyway, I drive or ride past Kyle’s Bike Shop nearly every day, and can never resist a quick glance at the pre-owned bicycles that are frequently on display outside the shop. A couple of months ago, I thought I saw a coffee color Raleigh bicycle there. Over the course of the next couple of days, I had a few more pass-by looks at it, and finally stopped to check it out. It was, indeed, a 1974 women’s 3 speed Raleigh Sports, in pretty good condition. I decided that I didn’t need another project bike, so had the willpower to resist. Of course, passing by Kyle’s a few more times that week weakened my resolve, and I finally couldn’t stand it anymore. I went back to get it. And why did I have to buy this bike? It needed an ambush makeover.
What’s wrong with this picture? Notice anything right off the bat?
Here’s another view.
Now THAT is an abomination! I couldn’t wait to get that big fat seat off the bike!
This is the underside.
And here is a comparision with some other saddles.
This saddle measures 12 inches across and 12 inches from front to back. It weighs a whopping 4 3/4 pounds. But as I looked it over, I was impressed by how sturdy and well-made it was. The heavy steel frame has heavy rubber padding and a heavy rubber cover, and looks like it could survive anything. I found the brand name “Persons” , and when I wiped off the dust, I found very faintly the words “Worksman Cycles” on the back edge of the saddle cover. Now it made sense. This was probably a saddle made for use on Worksman American-made heavy duty industrial trikes. It would be ideal for that use: sturdy, comfortable, and built to last. Curious, I looked up Persons on-line, and found that it is a a family run business, now known as Persons-Majestic. The history of this century-old family-owned business is interesting, but to get back to my story, I found from the company’s website that they had a limited selection of Brooks women’s saddles for sale at a very good price. How’s that for fortuitous!
The new brown Brooks saddle was the perfect complement to this bike.
A new Sturmey-Archer 3 speed shifter, new Kool-Stop brake pads, new tires and tubes, a good cleaning, a tune-up, replacing a rear reflector, straightening a bent fender, and the bike was almost ready. I added a black classic rear rack.
And here she is! Ready to ride in a comfortable, upright position. It’s a classy, easy riding, city-transportation bicycle appropriate for Copenhagen or Amsterdam, or even Orlando. From manufacture in Nottingham, England in 1974 to the streets of O-town! Let’s ride! Or let’s vacuum! Your choice.