These days it is very hard to find anything that is unique. Everyone wears the same clothes. The cars people drive all look the same and even more depressing is that all the houses that people live in all seem similar. Especially if you live in a condominium where the housing association tells you how tall your flag pole should be and what color the outside of your house has to be! That is another story though.
People’s bikes are all pretty much the same as well. Okay so your neighbor may turn his racing handlebars upside down but basically the bike is the same as your other neighbor. But there is hope for you if you want to be the neighbor with a cool bike.
While I was travelling the world wide web the other day I did come across quite a few good looking bicycles. Now a lot of the bikes I looked at were not for sale, a lot of them were one offs, as in they just made one of them, and a lot of them were so rare that you cannot find anywhere. Also some were museum pieces.
But if you want to buy a bike that is not like the one your friend has down the street, check out the seven below. They are all available online and some are even affordable! The last one is not a bicycle in the true sense of the word but it is cool and everyone should ride one at least once in their lives.
This bike was originally made in the UK in the 70’s but stopped production in 1981. It was the English version of the American Schwinn Stingray. The original Mark 1 version of the Raleigh Chopper was sold from 1969 to 1972. Then a Mark 2 came out in 1972 with a few changes. It was a very popular bike and helped resurrect the fortunes of the Raleigh Bicycle Company.
If you were a 12 year old boy in the 70’s and you had one of these you were probably the coolest kid on the street but your parents had to be crazy! It was less stable than a regular bicycle and harder to ride.
In 2004 it went into production again. Luckily there were a few things that the manufacturer changed to make the bike a bit safer.
The gear selector was moved from a lever on the top tube to a grip shift on the handlebar. This helped avoid any groin injuries when you slid off the seat which happened quite often. This also meant you could keep two hands on the handlebars at all times which was a good idea.
Also the seat was moved forward so there was less chance of doing a wheelie and falling off the back of the bike which also happened fairly often on the original version.
You can now buy these on ebay and I have even seen some of the original ones on that site as well. You may even see the even rarer version that had drop handlebars and a 5 speed derailleur. Why you would want racing handlebars on a bike that was pretty much uncontrollable above 15 miles an hour I will never know.
This bike is too small for an adult but would make a wonderful gift for your 12 year old child. Just tell them to walk it downhills!
Calfee Road Bike
If you are looking for a bicycle that has a very crash tolerant frame, amazing vibration dampening and that is stiffer than many carbon frames then take a gander at the beautiful bicycle above.
Bamboo is an excellent natural and renewable resource. In fact once it gets growing in your garden it goes out of control, so to be honest the more bikes they make from bamboo the better in my book. It is light and is very strong. In fact a few species of bamboo have the same strength ratio as steel.
This frame is very stiff which means it transfers power from you to the road very efficiently. Stress and impacts from falls don’t damage the frame as much as aluminum or carbon fiber and despite being so stiff it has a relatively smooth ride, far smoother than aluminum and titanium and on a level with carbon fibre and even steel.
Each one of these unique frames takes over 40 hours to build and to make them even more natural they use hemp fiber for the lugs to join the tubes together.
As you might expect it has a very low carbon footprint to build. The manufacturer Calfee is able to make all different sizes of frames as well because they do not use forms or moulds to join the bamboo.
So not only will your bamboo bike be pretty much unique but it will be a perfect fit. It is not often that you find something that not only has great form and visual appeal but also functions amazingly.
DIY Penny Farthing/High Wheel
I know what you are saying, this isn’t a real high wheeler or Penny Farthing. But this one gets the idea across for a lot less money. It uses a 26 inch front wheel and the best part is you get to build it yourself.
All you do is pay for the plans and then the parts, spend a weekend putting it together and before you know it you are the coolest person on the street and at your Wednesday night cruiser ride.
There are a couple of reasons that you might want to ride this one instead of the original High Wheeler.
Firstly it is a lot easier to get on and off. With the original bike which had a 60 inch front wheel you had to use a step next to the pedal to help you climb aboard. I could not find any tips for getting off the bike. Maybe stopping near a couple of friends who could hold the bike still while you dismounted.
But another problem that the riders had was flying over the handlebars from a heady height. No such problem with the bike above.
You can also buy models with 36 inch front wheels that are already built if you wanted to go with a larger front wheel. These bicycles are extremely low maintenance. In fact when a character called Thomas Stevens rode a Penny Farthing around the world in the 1880’s he didn’t have one maintenance issue.
This could be the single speed of the future (and the past). And if you really like it you could always treat yourself to a proper High Wheeler bicycle in the future. Who knows maybe you will become only the second person to bike around the world on a Penny Farthing.
BMC Track Bike
For you guys out there that have never ridden a bike on a track (or velodrome to use its technical name) you don’t know what you are missing. Your town may have an indoor track or an outdoor one for the nicer months of the year. Either one is a fantastic experience and to be honest the banked curve is not as intimidating as you would think.
If you do decide to knock this off your bucket list you can show up at the track and borrow or rent one of the bikes that are available, or you could put some serious money down and buy one of these BMC Track Bikes.
This is the bike that Rohan Dennis broke the hour record on 8th February 2015. He set a new hour record of 52.491 km. If he could do that imagine how far and fast you could go!
This bike is made of carbon fibre and weighs in at 6.8kg. The team had to add weight from the stock bike to meet UCI rules, so you could shave some weight off it and go even faster.
A few other things that are different include the fact that there are no brakes of course, something you quickly get used to and the bottom bracket is a bit higher than on a regular bike so that the pedals don’t hit the banked curve as you speed around.
A word of warning though, I wouldn’t ride this on your local trails if there is even an outside chance of a cross wind. It was made for the track with no crosswinds.
As for price on this one, well as they say if you have to ask you can’t afford it, so just write a note to Santa. Pssst it is around $7600. Be nice all year and you never know……
Renovo TT Prototype
This bike not only goes fast, but it looks fast as well. It should come with a speed warning, saying “ it doesn’t go slower than 30 mph”.
It is made from Port Orford Cedar and Black Walnut and is probably one of the smoothest riding bicycles that you will ever have. It is very sensitive and responds immediately to your movements.
The frame is made of two cored out pieces of solid wood which are joined together forming a hollow core like a regular bike. This makes the bike light, quiet and very strong. Rumour has it that out of all the 300 models that have been sold since 2007 not one of them has broken.
The bike is very stiff and depending on the weight and riding style of the buyer this stiffness can be modified. I personally think if you had one of these Renovo bicycles and put a belt on it instead of a chain it would be a perfect bike.
One word of warning though, after going through a credit check, and putting all your money down on it before it even starts being built, you are still looking at a wait of up to a year or maybe even more. Don’t expect this bike to be delivered tomorrow, perfection takes time.
I don’t know about you but I wish these bikes had been around when I was a kid. I might have learned how to balance on a bike before I was 14 and maybe my dad wouldn’t have had to push me down the main road with training wheels on while I was in Junior High.
There are a lot of these pedalless bikes around now, this one is made of wood and looks so minimalist even the hipsters on their fixies will be jealous of your kiddo’s bike. All you need to look out for are termites .
It is made from varnished birch plywood and high grade lead free steel. The bike is engineered so that your junior Eddy (or Edwina) Merckx can’t turn the steering wheel too far in one direction. This avoids any jackknifing.
And you can choose pink or blue accessories to match the rider’s helmet. My 3 year old is now quite happy zooming round inside the house on his balance bike. Will it make him a better bike rider in the future ? I have no idea but he enjoys it, his balance is improving and it stops him watching tv all the time.
Waldmeister Single Speed
Not only is this bike a singlespeed but it is made from wood, 2 items off your bucket list in one go. Waldmeister are the German manufacturers and they have built a bike that looks like a piece of art that can be ridden.
The wood is from a sustainable forest in Germany and the whole bike has very high end parts on it. Of course it is handmade and to make it even more unique and probably more expensive it is made of up to 100 thin layers of wood.
Another interesting thing about this bike is that although it is made of wood it is not stuck in the Middle Ages; the frame design was computer calculated to use all the properties of the wood to their biggest advantage. The wood is Beech which is very hard and homogeneous and because of this the frame has a consistent feel to it.
As you can see there is not a continuous seat tube so the top tube acts like a leaf spring which helps to damp the pressure from above and any bumps from below.
And not only is the frame made from wood but so are the rims of the wheels. These wooden rims have very good suspension and absorption properties so you won’t be missing your front Rock Shox.
The finishing touch of this bike is the Brooks Titanium saddle. With all the high quality, high price parts on this bike you will have to carry a few locks around with you to make sure no one steals it when you park it outside your local 7-11.
Oh yes, a unicycle. I hear you are never too old to start to learn to ride one. These days they come in all sorts of different colors to match your sneakers and wheel sizes that correspond to your skill level.
They are so minimalist that you will be putting the hipsters in your ‘hood to shame. And another good thing about being so simple is that they have hardly anything that can break. This is probably a good thing because in your first few days it will probably be hitting the floor quite a few times.
Imagine the look on the faces of the people at school or work when you tell them you are going to ride your bike and then they see you arrive on a unicycle. You will go straight to the top of the class or get a promotion in weeks!
Once you get good at riding the unicycle you will be able to carry things in your hands. It will take texting on a bicycle to a whole new level. You can take it onto trails and it is light so you can just pick it up and take it on the bus or subway wherever you go.
But I think the best thing about riding a unicycle is that you never see a sign that says “no unicycling”; you can ride it anywhere!