29 May 2008

A Dream Bike

Ladies AntBikeMike dream bike handmade
I purposefully do not write here much about new bikes. There are so many beautiful vintage bikes which serve perfectly and fulfill all three tenets of this blog, they look good, they feel good, and by riding a vintage bike you're doing good.

But a girl's got a right to dream, and an ANT bike, bespoke crafted here in Massachusetts, is the pinnacle of bicycle dreams, the handmade wedding dress of bicycles. But you definitely need background and for that I lift the story (with attribution!) from Cris:

Perhaps you've heard the cliché that only 1000 people bought the first Velvet Underground, but all of them decided to form bands. In that spirit, the bike builder's equivalent to the Velvet Underground is Chris Chance and Fat City Cycles.

Fat City was founded in the 1980s (in Somerville, MA), in the early age of the mountain bike, and developed bikes that had an early reputation for legendary construction and handling. However, Fat City wasn't big enough to compete with the like of Specialized or Trek and so, in 1994 the company was sold to Serotta, a high-end bike builder in upstate New York. The Boston factory was shut down and most of its employees laid off. There were never a lot of folks who worked at Fat City, but all of them went on to create new bike companies. The list of companies started by ex-Fat City employees reads like a who's who of elite builders: Merlin, Seven, Independent Fabrication. Each of them builds bikes that are universally hailed as the finest rides produced in America.

Theirs are not bikes that you'll find in a shop, prebuilt, fresh from an assembly and pret-a-porter. They're custom built, created after a dialogue between you and a company, parsing out your dreams, desires and limitations. They will build a bike that is one of a kind, and they will build it only for you.

Independent Fabrication and Seven are sort of the BMW and Mercedes of the American bike world, with IF being the hipper, more aggressive BMW and Seven being the more studied and luxurious Benz. Randonneurs, who want a bike that will perform well under any circumstances and with several hundreds of miles, go to IF for their Club Racer, a bike built to carry fenders and support wider tires.

The Club Racer was designed by Mike Flanigan, one of IF's co-founders. Mike left IF some time ago, when the company was shifting its product focus to cater to the racer and performance market, and he was more interested in building bikes for commuters and everyday users. When that gap got to be too large, Mike left Independent Fabrication and started ANT.


For the very best in the everyday Dutch/French/Euro city-bike tradition, custom tailored just for you - this is it - and it's right here in Boston. There's even the more affordable and aptly named Boston Roadster. My husband has promised me, someday... I didn't buy a new wedding dress, so I'll get an ANT instead.

Boston commuter dream bike AntBikeMike handmade

6 comments:

2whls3spds said...

Two thumbs up for ANT! I cannot justify the cost of one his bikes...yet. We have a drastic shortage of nice vintage bikes in my area. The last two Raleighs I purchased had to be shipped in from Boston or Minneapolis :-(

Aaron

ayun said...

Wow! I just came to your blog for the first time (via Bostonist, I believe), wondering how long it'll take me to find a photo of someone I know. Here it is! Well, there's no photo of Cris, but I know him!

I hope someday to be caught unawares on my daily commute across the Mass Ave bridge in a chic moment...

cris said...

hi charlotte -- thanks for the nod and the worthy editing of my verboseness.

my girlfriend mentioned your blog to me, and I'm only catching up now. I'm also dying to figure out who your husband is and whether or not I met him on PBP.

(hi ann!)

Charlotte said...

Cris,

You do know my husband, and the three of us rode together in the Populaire in April.

My husband rides an early 80s red Pinarello...

:)

I'm so excited you've stopped by the blog!

cris said...

yes! I thought so ... but I was thrown off by one of your other posts indicating that your apartment only had one bike parking space downstairs and that your husband just had a folding bike in the apartment. I was wondering where he would've kept his Pinarello. So, I kept racking my brains to remember if I ever saw someone from Massachusetts riding a folding bike in PBP.

Pass on my regards and hopefully see you around next spring if not serendipitously around town somewhere.

Charlotte said...

Awww, Cris, I was just talking about the *town* bikes! :)

Here is one bike you've seen before.