It's raining today and though the urge to ride it strong after two days off the bike it's definitely not a good day for it until the weather clears and the fog lifts. I'm spending some time instead wandering the web, window shopping for the perfect bike.
I've raved about Grand Bois tyres before, having picked up a pair from Compass Bicycle and enjoyed their terrific responsiveness. But Grand Bois also make a stunning range of bikes, stylish and functional rides, with mudguards and handlebar bag racks and lights designed into the package, not tacked on as an afterthought. They're based in Japan, so their website is not surprisingly in Japanese, although some random clickling unearths some real gems. For mine, the Model D above is pretty special: demountable steel frame with SandS couplers, old style one-inch stem, decaleur and bag rack. Exactly the sort of bike at home on a fast bunch ride, a daily commute or on a 400km plus day. It's old school, but the good bits of old school, and in many ways reminiscent of a 1950s Rene Herse which is clearly part of its aesthetic inspiration.
Grand Bois are lovely bikes, but somehow I can't see myself jumping on a plane to Japan (particularly when I have a perfectly decent randonneur bike as it is).
My absolute favourite window shopping destination on the web is Mitch Pryor's MAP Cycles. There is eye-candy galore on this website. All of it as beautifully photographed as it is constructed. His rando bikes are sublime but every bike on the site is a stunner including a mixte which I've drooled over more than once for it's sheer beauty. If I had the money, I might fly over to the US for a chat with Mitch. Nordavinden over at Rawland entices with its rough charm too: if I was only allowed to have one bike, perhaps it would be this. But what cruel world would allow us only one bike? No doubt more lovely machines will emerge from the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show this week in Sacramento. I was sorely tempted to buy a plane ticket this year, one day I will visit for sure.
From the trends emerging at NAHBS and elsewhere, it's my firm conviction that disk brakes and perhaps even electronic shifting will become the norm on road bikes within a couple of years, so even the remotest thought of a new frame had been banished from my mind until the technology settles down. Funny to think such a timeless piece of machinery is still evolving so quickly for the better.