Internal gearing has been around for years but the new 7,8,11 and 14 speed hubs made perfect sense for a city bike. The ability to shift whenever we want gives us more freedom to deal with stop and go traffic and the sealed hub reduces maintenance a great deal. That was kind of a no-brainer.
The Mixte is a different matter. For those unfamiliar, the Mixte is a frame style which has been around for many decades. The word "mixte" is a French term which is used to describe activities and technologies of a mixed gender in nature. According to discussions I have had, and what little information I can find, the general understanding is that the Mixte frame design became popular in Nazi occupied France when fuel was scarce and delivery vehicles were needed. The frame design, with it's twin sloping top tubes extending to the rear dropouts,
solved a few problems. It provided additional lateral strength, reinforced the rear triangle and made it easier to mount and dismount a loaded bike frequently in city traffic. After the war, fuel was more plentiful, delivery bikes were replaced by trucks and the mixte design continued but was marketed as a "women's model." So the gender issues that surround the design really exist because of several decades of advertising. Somewhere around the late '70's or early '80's they started to disappear altogether. Rivendell began to sell their Glorius and Wilbury models after the turn of the century and a few others followed suit.
I decided to get a Wilbury but the price tag at $1500 was something I would have to work on. Well I found a Jamis Commuter at a good price which would provide the Nexus 8 wheelset and drivetrain I wanted. With that I had a townie bike I could use while I put together the money and parts for the Wilbury and I could use it for a "winter beater" later on. Well,things went wrong with the exchange rates, the Yen got expensive, Rivendell's Japanese supplier didn't raise prices but it cost more dollars to buy the Yen to buy the bike. Bummer. The price went up to $2200 dollars and Riv discontinued it in favor of a new frame, the Betty Foy,
made in Taiwan. The price was good, they promised a different color for the men's model (Y'ves Gomez) but the frame was spec'd for 650B wheels. I already had the wheelset I wanted in 700c! Damn. Soma came to the rescue with the Buena Vista model, but they sold out almost immediately. While waiting for more Buena Vista bikes to be delivered I ran across a nice '76 Raleigh on Craigslist. The one in the photo above, by then it was fall '09 and I spent the winter refurbishing it. It was a tad too small for me, but a long seat post and longer stem made it comfortable.
A few things changed for me this past winter and I ran into that great American oxymoron (extra money), so I decided to get a frame that really fit. The Soma Buena Vista is being built in two colors now and I chose one in graphite grey. It has a lovely metallic finish and, although I prefer a lugged frame, this has some of the cleanest welds I have seen and the frame over all looks great. One bit of irony, the frame will not accommodate tires larger than 28mm with fenders. They said so, I thought I knew better, I was wrong. Guess what, I ended up ordering a set of 650B wheels to get the tire size I wanted in the frame.
During the crappy snowfall and freezing rain of the past couple of days I brought in the parts box and frame to start hanging things on it. I'll put up some more specifics on the build when I finish it off and get him on the road.
I hope we are only a couple of weeks from spring because, not only am I anxious to ride this bike, I am sick and damn tired of studded snow tires! Anyway, I was determined to build a "manly man's mixte" since that gender issue keeps getting kicked around the bike forums. I like the grey metallic paint, the black and chrome
parts, but how does one put the final touch on a gentleman's mixte?
Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Hydrate and carbo load in one swig.
The only remaining problem is a name.
I see all the girls out there with their custom and vintage mixtes personified with an identity of their own: Josephine, Marianne, Penelope, pinky, etc.and, of course Betty Foy.
What does one name a manly man's mixte? There could be the usual; Duke, Rambo, Slade. Nah, too cliche'd and macho. The horse thing occurred to me, you know; Shadowfax, Tornado, Silver. Nope too corny. Then it struck me
Byron.Noble, literate, creative, refined, adventurous, athletic and heroic; he's all that and I didn't even have to mention wildly promiscuous. Yep, a man's man, a man to be admired, Byron it is.
OK, Maaybe I over thought this whole thing. Maaybe I went over the top and had a little too much fun with this.
But, that probably explains the pretty nurses with their sympathetic but condescending smiles.