Eurobike 2014: The Light Blue
(This post provided by grit.cx contributor Karen Brooks)
Placing an unusual vintage bike out front of your booth is a guaranteed way to get us bike geek journalists to wander over and check things out. Most of the time it turns out to be worthwhile. In this case the culprit was The Light Blue, a manufacturer from Cambridge that began way back in 1895.
The bike in question was built in 1900 by original shop proprietor John Albert Townsend to celebrate the turn of the century.
Far from a one-off display bike, Townsend rode this bike until his death in 1942. The saddle is original, but the bike was restored and repainted in the mid-1980’s. The original rims were wooden and were replaced with newfangled steel rims and pneumatic tires in the 1920’s.
Behind this interesting specimen was a lovely set of vintage-inspired bikes. Although J.A. Townsend’s original shop ceased manufacturing after WWI, he stayed in the cycle trade and so did the subsequent four generations, down to the current owners who operate Ison Distribution. They decided to introduce a brand inspired by Townsend’s original bikes and have produced a “Sport” and an “Urban” line, with models named after the colleges of Cambridge and the light blue color taken from the university’s sporting teams.
Of particular note is the Darwin Twin Peak prototype—“natural selection for epic riding adventures.”
The Reynolds 725 steel frame is dressed with components leaning toward the mountain bike end of the spectrum, including SRAM X7/X9 gears, chainstay-mounted Avid BB7 disc brakes, and a Halo Vapour 29 wheelset. Stock tires are a generous 38mm. Rear rack is stock.
The handlebars, a model called Digest from Ison’s Genetic brand, are an interesting shape reminiscent of WTB’s iconic Dirt Drop bars.
The rear dropout is a proprietary sliding design called ADS-3 that allows singlespeed or internally-geared setups to work with disc brakes.
There are a ton of eyelets on the bike; besides the usual fender and rack mounts, the extras allow multiple cable routing configurations.
The Light Blue showed several other interesting models, all done in steel, including a disc brake-equipped road bike and a beautiful retro lugged model.