Definition of a Scorcher by Sheldon Brown: "A fast, reckless cyclist who scares horses and old folks. This term was current in the late 19th century."
I am fascinated by the early days of cycling, particularly around the time period 1895-1905. It was a time when the bicycle threatened to replace the horse as personal transportation. It somewhat parallels today because cycling is on the rise. With rising gasoline and car prices plus a downturn in the economy, people are turning more and more to affordable modes of transportation. Plus it's fun and a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. It is now the bicycle that is once again threatening to replace the car as personal transportation.
Being born in the 1950's, it was the bicycle that gave me freedom as a young boy, just like a horse would have done a century earlier.
Melbourne Australia 1895.
A boy on his bike with a horse and carriage in background.
Stopping to have his photo taken.
This is serious business!
An early hipster messenger.
Can't stop! Got to go!
The Scorcher has been revived in modern times. Here is a link to an interview with the Ibis bike creators about their Scorcher from the early 1990's by 63xc.com. You can read a review of the Ibis Scorcher on the adventurecorps website...
...or visit the Rough Riders blog.
More recently, Renaissance Bicycles has created their own version of the Scorcher using a Velo-Orange Polyvalent frameset.
Even custom bike builder Mike Flanigan (Ant Bike Mike) is getting in on the Scorcher action...
Which leads me to my tribute to the Scorcher Bicycle. I present to you: The Electra Ticino Scorcher Lux!
Flipped and chopped cruiser bar.
Ticino hand brazed cromoly stem. Nice!
Bar tape and hemp twine.
Triple butted Cro-Mo crowned fork and Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tires in creme.
My new favourite pedals.
Retro Single Speed crankset complete with chain and pant guards.
High flange star hubs with ceramic bearings.
Rear horizontal dropouts with screw chain tensioner, single speed or fixed gear flip flop hub.
Brooks Aged B-68 saddle.
When I first saw the Electra Ticino Lux, I immediately started thinking about how I could customize it. That's the beauty of bikes from a company like Electra. They leave open the possibilities for personalization and customization. I wanted a new bike that would remind me of the bikes that were being ridden back at the turn of the last century. Something simple and elegant that was hand built with retro styled quality parts that I could actually afford. A bike available at the Local Bike Shop.
I'm really happy with the way the bike turned out. It really is a pleasure to ride. The long wheelbase combined with the steel frame and fork make for a very comfortable ride. The 35c tires roll along with very little effort. The chopped and flipped cruiser handlebar put me into just a slight lean forward that feels very neutral. I'm not so upright that my body is acting like a sail; yet I'm not leaned over so far that I feel excess weight or pressure on my hands. Extended rides are always comfortable and perfect for Scorching the pathways. Electra's literature calls the Ticino Lux a "gentleman's fixie". Indeed, just not too gentle.
From the Rough Riders blog...
"A hundred years ago, cyclists weren't sissies like today. With only one gear, no coasting and not even one brake, not to mention no suspension or paved roads, they rode better than most do today. A few examples: In 1897, John George of Philadelphia rode 32,479 miles and John Noble rode 253 centuries in one year! The Ibis Scorcher takes its name from the renegade, rules-be-damned cyclists (proto-mountain bikers?) of this era that were scorned by pedestrians and "traditional cyclists" alike. The scorchers, while held in low regard, however, were immortalized in poetry."
I am the scorcher!
that appertains to my spine!
With head ducked low
over man and beast and woe.
Unto the thing
that fails to scamper when I ting-a-ling!
Let people jaw
and go to law
to try to check my gait.
If that's their game!
to kill folks,
but I will do it, just the same.
they clear the tracks for me;
because, you see,
I am the Scorcher, full of zeal,
and just the thing I look like on the wheel.
The vintage photos that I used for this blog entry were found over at Rat Rod Bikes. Pay them a visit. It's an awesome website.