A reader (thanks to Matt) directed me to Flying Pigeon NYC, a local dealer for the terrific bikes of the same name. In this context, both local and terrific are relative terms. Regarding the former, NYC is closer to me than any part of China. Regarding the later, Lance doesn't ride a Flying Pigeon, but it's likely that there are more actively used Flying Pigeons around the world than all other actively used bikes put together, and that makes them terrific in my book.
The Flying Pigeon NYC Blog has pretty pictures of Flying Pigeon bicycles, either with young and beautiful New Yorkers, at popular New York City locations, or both. This is interesting, because Pigeons are not exactly chic outside Gotham.
Pigeons are fairly low tech vehicles, but they are extremely utilitarian. They are designed to get you where you want to go, regardless of weather or time of day, though not especially quickly. The full "spec" really isn't what this bike is about. This is the global Model-T of bikes: generic and reliable. It does come with lots of nice "accessories," but in this case, they're just part of the bike--a Flying Pigeon would be naked without its fenders and chaincase. There's also a stout rear carrier, a functional dynamo light set, and a kickin' double kickstand. The women's (aka step-through) version has nice low clearance, and both versions provide a short reach to the grips and an upright riding position.
A few notes:
- I won't say these things are heavy, because even a Smart Car weight a lot more, but they're not fun to carry up stairs. Fortunately that isn't much of an issue (see below).
- You should never, I repeat, you should NEVER wear lycra, or "cycling clothing" while riding a Flying Pigeon. The full chaincase should be a good indication that business attire is welcome on board, as are bell bottoms, and palazzo pants, whatever those are.
- Aside from the leather saddle, the bike is built to be parked outside. Cover the seat with a plastic bag when you park the bike. If you're riding in the rain, keep it covered and sit right on the bag. If it's sunny, stuff the bag under the seat, so you'll always have it handy.
- Parked outside all-day-everyday, it might rust a little. So what? The entire thing is tough steel, and you didn't buy it because of the way it looks, did you? Actually, it appears that Flying Pigeons are something of a fashion accessory for some folks. Whatever floats your boat, but don't ask me to carry it up to your fourth-floor walk-up.
- Speaking of steel: Many contemporary bikes have aluminium rims which have provide good braking power in wet and dry conditions. When aluminum rims get dented, however, they're pretty much scrap-metal. Steel rims, like those on the Pigeon, get slippery when wet, but if they become dented, can be hammered back into shape. Cool. Just be careful when its wet.
- I've heard that NYC can be rough for bikes parked outside, but I have little experience in this area. Talk to a local bike shop about security, and take their advice. Definitely don't skimp on the lock. No one ever regretted not having something stolen. If you're not in NYC (e. g. if you're in DC), your Pigeon will be safe with a big honkin' lock--as long as you know how to use it.
- I just learned that the Flying Pigeon brand has been declared a national treasure of China. Spectacular!