Monday, July 28, 2014

Harley Davidson In Footscray

The motor vehicle industry has dabbled in the world of bicycle manufacture, or at least bicycle branding, at various times throughout the bicycle’s 175 year history. BMW, Porsche, Mercedes Benz and Ferrari have all have all put their name on bicycles, although it’s unlikely they actually had much to do with the manufacturing process.

German brand Audi has also developed something that resembles a bicycle – although I’d hesitate to call it one.

And who could forget the classic Hummer bicycle? The brand name promised so much in terms of rugged off-road performance but in bicycle form delivered little more than a low-end 13kg aluminium folding-bike with a kickstand.

Motorcycle company Harley Davidson actually launched a range of bicycles way back in 1917, however by 1923 slow sales saw them discontinued.

But it’s not just the bicycle market that the automotive industry has dabbled in. There are air conditioners made by Mitsubishi and pianos made by Yamaha (although these preceded the motorcycle division of their company by over 60 years).

So, while it’s certainly no real surprise to see a motor vehicle company slapping their branding on to a bicycle, the following bike is a rather special example of a collaborative project between motorcycle company Harley Davidson and GT Bicycles from the late 1990s.

This bike was spotted in the suburb of Seddon, otherwise known as the Gateway to Footscray, in Melbourne’s west. While Seddon has embraced gentrification at a rapid rate in the last few years (there are a staggering 12 cafés in a 500m stretch along its two main shopping strips), it is worth noting that the street where this bike was parked is actually right on the border of Footscray. And although Footscray is now blessed with a single excellent hipster café and one trendy new burger joint, in terms of gentrification, it’s definitely lagging well behind.

In many ways, Footscray is like an under-achieving, substance-abusing, delinquent older sibling to Seddon, who, determined not to suffer the same fate, got educated, cleaned-up its act and has now made a killing selling single-origin coffee and organic sourdough to trendy inner-urban young couples who have begrudgingly accepted their residential fate in Melbourne’s inner-west after being priced out of Fitzroy and Brunswick.

For anyone thinking of visiting Footscray, most of the highlights have been entertainingly collated on the Visit Footscray website.

These include:
The Dancing Dog Café is a fantastic modern establishment that definitely isn’t a drug front. With a liquor license until 3am, it makes the perfect ending to a night on the town, as long as you’re not expecting to get drugs, because it definitely doesn’t sell them.’ 
Olympic Doughnuts ‘…is actually considered an attraction in Footscray…This bit isn’t a joke. Olympic Doughnuts has 97% on Urban Spoon. None of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants even come close to that. It’s fucking mental.’ 
Attractions include spending ‘…a romantic evening with a loved one, casually strolling hand-in-hand along the Maribyrnong River while romantically feigning a sense of total safety.’ 
Freshhh Kebab ‘…might look like an abandoned caravan in a parking lot that may or may not contain a dead body, but as soon as the sun-sets, a gastronomic alchemist emerges from the shadows and opens the shutters to reveal one of the town’s finest eateries that may or may not contain a dead body! Open until 4am, it’s suspicious AND delicious!’ 
If you’d prefer to indulge your curiosity with Melbourne’s west from a safe distance, then you might enjoy The Private Cyclist’s own Instagram account (@theprivatecyclist), which contains an emerging collection of alarmingly square photographs capturing some of the essence of Footscray and its surrounding suburbs.

If you are up for the adventure though, remember that no day-trip to Footscray is complete without a visit to the Young Asian Massage parlour. Conveniently located on Geelong Road, there’s no better place to unwind after a long day out sightseeing.

Here you can indulge yourself with a soothing, full-body oil massage by a lithe young oriental wearing nothing more than a set of orthodontic braces (due to be removed once they graduate high school). Let your mind unwind as you drift off in to complete and blissful relaxation with the soothing caress of an oiled-up, nubile massage therapist (no formally recognised qualifications claimed). Although nothing more than a thin film of fragrant massage oil separates your genitals from your therapist’s, please keep in mind that this is a strictly non-sexual service.

As their advertisement proudly boasts, ‘Young Asian Massage Offers incredible relaxing massage services at affordable prices. ’

It’s also open 7 days a week, which is a big advantage over most of Footscray’s other health and wellbeing clinics.

Despite this most definitely being a non-sexual service, Young Asian Massage does not offer the convenience of on-the-spot HICAPS private health insurance rebates – however they do offer a discreet rear entrance via the laneway off Bateman Street, so at least that makes things a bit easier.

Don’t be put off by the plywood panel in the front window either. This was most likely smashed by a stone flicked off Geelong Road by a passing truck and not by the jealous boyfriend of a therapist who found out just exactly what the full-service body massage involved.

The intense relief of a Young Asian Massage will almost certainly leave you feeling reinvigorated and ready to enjoy some of the region’s other hot attractions like the Harley Davidson bicycle, which is just a short stroll away. If, however, you find your mind distracted and constantly wandering back to the intensely therapeutic experience of an oily naked full body slide, then you might need some visual assistance with the transition from Young Asian Massages to Harley Davidson bicycles.

Manufactured by GT Bicycles, the bike featured in this article was released in 1998 to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Harley Davidson company and there are still a few of them floating around collector’s websites. The cruiser-style aluminium frame was built-up with a unique blend of components including a Shimano Nexus 7-speed internal rear hub with drum brake, front disc brake, Harley Davidson branded crankset and a strange dual-crown motocross-style front suspension fork from RockShox. It certainly is a sight to behold.

The particular model spotted in Seddon, has had some custom modifications made including the addition of a Vincolo seatpost.

Vincolo is another curious bicycle brand out of New Zealand, founded by frame builder Garry Buys. In the 1980s Garry built handmade steel road and track frames for New Zealand’s elite riders and the business eventually expanded in to Taiwanese-produced aluminium frames in the 1990s. Although Garry spent time honing his frame building craft in Ernesto Colnago’s factory in the late 1980s, his Vincolo branding and logo are an unashamedly brazen imitation of the iconic Italian brand.

Out of respect, Vincolo has relegated themselves to the Spades suit, which is ranked lower than Clubs in the card game 500. Obviously in Bridge this is not the case but we won’t go in to that now.

The Vincolo website is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy historical snapshots of the Internet. Judging by the Dura Ace 7800 drivetrain on their top-of-the-line road bike, it hasn’t been updated since about 2004.

The Vincolo seatpost found on the Harley Davidson bike certainly adds to the mystique and unique character of this curious collector's item.

In order to pare the bike down to it’s lightest possible weight, you’ll notice how the front brake and cable have been removed. Whilst this might constitute a small safety risk, it’s a price that any performance-oriented racing bike owner would be willing to pay.

Interestingly though, while the brake and cable have been removed, the disk rotor and brake lever have been left in place. No doubt this was done intentionally to ensure the bike did not fall below the UCI minimum road racing legal weight of 6.8kg. After all, a machine as distinctive as this is likely to raise some eyebrows at any UCI sanctioned road cycling event, and it would be a shame to be disqualified simply for having an awesome bike.

The carbon fibre-styled front and rear fenders are also a nice touch in that they provide all of the appearance without any of the unnecessary costs or performance benefits. When you’re talking about a fender, the impressive directional strength-to-weight ratio of carbon fibre is something that is fairly redundant for a component whose chief task is to withstand water spray from a bicycle tyre.

The bike is tastefully finished off with a Harley Davidson steerer-tube top cap that shows the impressive attention to detail that has made Harley Davidson such a renowned brand. And the decision to license their world-famous emblem to a bicycle manufacturer for the production of this strange road-mountain bike-cruiser hybrid for a celebration of their 95th anniversary shows the progressive thinking that has helped keep this strong brand alive for so many years.

Make sure that you include a visit to this wonder of collaborative marketing expertise and impracticality next time you Visit Footscray.

No comments:

Post a Comment