Preamble

Sometime around 2004 my 'full-size' hybrid bike got stolen, as is pretty much norm here in London. I'd only had it for four days—so was naturally a bit cheesed, and in a hurry to replace it.

My lovely Trek 6066e—Gone in [nearly] 60 seconds

I wanted to get something more stealthy, maybe even something I didn't have to leave outdoors like the proverbial sacrificial goat. Being anally retentive, I started delving into bicycle commuter forums on the web, wherein I chanced upon a post on BikeForums.net by this guy called Chris Heg, who'd 'Super-modified' his Raleigh Twenty to run suspension, and other modern componentry, that dismantled easily into a Samsonite case for international air-travel.

Cheg's 'Supermodified' Twenty. ©2002 Chris Heg.

"Hmmm…" (A little light went on in my head) "…those funny little shopping bikes… I remember those…"

Seventies dealer pricing: 8-pounds, 15-shillings and 4-pence profit!

So this modified bike just didn't quite compute in my head. I was a bit of a noob in the current bike scene, having spent about ten years without a bike, and had never really thought about the possibility of custom, personal bikes.

Brochure: Available in any colour as long as it's Brown.

Was this really the same deeply-uncool bike that seemed to be everywhere in the 80s?; the bike mums and nuns used?; A bike whos' very name 'Shopper' was used as a word of derision and scorn in schoolyards across the land..?

Yet here was one that had somehow shed this skin and become a swan.

And it still looked like the sort of bike that would be nearer the bottom of a thief's wish-list. The patina, the unconventional shape…

A plan was forming in my head.

Make sure to add oil to the rack and seat

Despite the seed that was now planted, I tried to ignore it and continued in my search for 'normal', 'conventional' bikes; Treks, Cannondales, Marins—the usual suspects, but somehow I kept coming back to this image.

And others. I digged, and found Sheldon Brown's now-infamous 'Hot-rodded' Twenty, a bike most Twenty fans will have seen and one which I would be lying about if I said didn't influence me hugely too.

The Late, Great Sheldon Brown's 'Hot-rod' Twenty

These customed ducklings amazed me and amused me in equal parts. I love an underdog, a square peg, a peppering of surprise and flair. London commuters can be so generic and glum in their hi-vis bibs, panniers and chunky hybrids, but if I rode something like this - I'd actually have some personality out there; I could have it all - something thief-proof, individual—even ecological (it'd be recycled!).

It seemed like the plan. I just needed to find one and build it.

Next section ➔

Iteration 1

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing.

A Twenty just like the one I bought, with straight cranks and nicer tyres

Folded: More suited to car boots and stairwells than trains

Iteration 2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing.

Iteration 3

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing.

Present & future

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Rigid 'Shopper' version

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing.

Resources

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eget eros libero. Fusce tempus quam sit amet erat mollis a fermentum nibh imperdiet. Fusce iaculis sapien in turpis aliquet porta. Donec tincidunt gravida tortor, vel dignissim augue convallis sit amet. Aliquam auctor ornare accumsan. Cras convallis elit tincidunt arcu semper egestas. Mauris interdum fringilla nisi. Cras a dapibus lectus. Praesent blandit ullamcorper ornare. Nam hendrerit sollicitudin urna non ultricies. Phasellus condimentum auctor risus, at accumsan tellus tempor vel. Nunc mattis eleifend dolor at adipiscing.