Actually, there are bikes that merely turn heads and there are bikes that make you go holy crap, what on earth was that? as you fall off your own bike trying to keep it in view.
I think the Pedersen comes into the latter camp. I spotted this parked outside a local tea room and had to accost the two obvious cyclists sitting inside to find out if it was theirs. The owner – and builder – offered me a ride on it but as he was taller than me and seat adjustment is not one of their strong points, I decided I would admire it from the safety of the pavement instead.
I particularly like the minimalist approach to a bottle cage (I did promise to photoshop out the bits where it needed repainting. Please try and pretend those bits are just mud).
He’d built his after seeing one in Copenhagen, stopping to chat to its owner (who didn’t speak any English, but never mind) and then getting the measurements from a model in a bike museum in Glasgow. After four years of thinking about it – and three weeks of feverish late-night brazing – he was the proud owner of his very own pedersen, followed by one for his wife and a half-built one for his son. That was 20 years ago, and I don’t think he’s ridden a normal bike since.
I don’t know why the Pedersen frame design failed to take off and the bike we know and love today triumphed – possibly there’s some inherent weakness in the design, possibly it was just bad luck. Maybe if the original manufacturer had been a bit more switched on we’d all be falling off our hammock seats laughing at the odd eccentric riding around on a replica ‘diamond frame’. As it is, the chap I talked to did think about going into business making them, but decided the Brits weren’t ready for something that looked so different.
I asked him what the advantage was and although he cited the upright riding position and the ability to build a very strong but lightweight frame he admitted that it was its head-turning qualities that really drew him to it. He rides it round Bigtown occasionally and the school children all stop and stare. ‘The boys tend to call out “cool bike mister” when I pass them – but the girls all just burst out laughing,’ he told me.
By that measure I’m clearly more school boy than school girl. He’s offered me a ride on a smaller one if I’m down his way, and I may just have to take him up on that, one of these days.