I suppose we have touched on this in ways in the past, but I find it interesting that bicycles have certain personality traits (if you will). As mentioned in my last, I had a ride on my 81 531SL Ilkeston Raleigh this morning. The latter is built with all Campag SR parts, Mavic GL330 rims, and a San Marco Rolls Due saddle. To me this bike was always something of a thoroughbred - wanting to go fast and to be ridden fast (I do my best but don't always do what's best for this bike). That was the feel I had this morning. And quite a different feeling from that which I have experienced over the last couple of months in which I have mainly been riding an 82 531C Bob Jackson. The latter is kitted out with a Brooks Pro saddle, Weinmann concave rims, Campag NR and mudguards and is a heavier bike. On the other hand, it is a more relaxed ride - with more relaxed geometry and gives one the impression that one can stay in the saddle for a much longer period of time in a relative degree of comfort. But what is most interesting is that the bike feels right on those damp and grey days of Spring - almost as if it was intended for those British days that I experienced in my twenties. It seems to hum along in all weather - the drizzle and the driving rain, gales and calms, sun and shade. On this bike I often feel as if I could have stepped right out of a Patterson sketch, propped it up against an ancient oak tree, a churchyard gate or the wall of a country pub. This bike has that sort of personality - or maybe it has something to do with the way I built it up or the type of rides it has been put through. While I have ridden the Raleigh in all sorts of conditions too - and have even toured on it (albeit with a different set of components) - it was always squirrelly under a load and protested at the rain and wished instead for fast dry roads, sunshine and blue skies.
But, the question becomes - do we instill certain characters or personalities on our bikes or do they themselves have something inherent in their make-up? I know we can separate them on purely functional bases and distinguish touring from racing from time-trialling frames etc., but in the case of the two frames in question they are both lightweight non-touring framesets.
Paul Williams, Just musing on a Sunday afternoon on vacation in a sunny, Kingston, Ontario, Canada