Beau Velo, Southwest Corridor Bikepath

Beau Velo, Southwest Corridor Bikepath

My beautiful Boston transport, at rest on the Southwest Corridor Bikepath, next to the T’s Orange Line (in the trench below the flowering tree) and constructed as part of that project. This is near the southern end which is adjacent to Boston’s famous Emerald Necklace. The northern end of this path is one block from beautiful Copley Square.

Beau Velo is a beautiful old Raleigh Superbe (hence the name) that belonged to my dad. Raleigh used to make every component of their bicycles in their own factory in England except for the tires. Even the gear mechanism (Sturmey-Archer) was a subsidiary. In post-war England only the wealthy could afford cars: thus these bicycles were built as serious transportation so people could conduct their lives. They are all steel, making them heavy and both durable and comfortable to ride. They are low maintenance, but they are also not very fast. Superbes were the top of the line, and included built-on headlight and tail light with a hub generator, plus a more comfortable seat. The rise of the 10-speed (and beyond) and new bikes designed as fashionable toys, coupled with increased incomes and more car purchases in England, put an end to this approach to building bikes, although other companies in the Netherlands carry on a similar philosophy today. Nevertheless, Raleigh held up bike manufacturing in England long after the UK lost both its aerospace and mass-market automobile industries, lasting until the turn of the 21st century.

I can testify it is both heavy and comfortable. And going full speed down a steep hill, it is still slow. This is a good thing: the brakes can be charitably described as treacherous…! 🙂 Still, I would alternate rides between it and my now-gone Nishiki twelve speed: without fail I would ride further and stay out longer on the Raleigh, despite the Nishiki being three times as fast. Really, a much smoother ride over bumpy Boston (and Montreal) roads.

Posted by RTsan on 2012-05-02 19:30:28

Tagged: , C.A. McMullen Photography , Raleigh , Beau Velo , Superbe , three-speed , EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM , Canon , EOS 50D , color , Boston , Jamaica Plain , Massachusetts , bikepath , Southwest Corridor Bikepath , Raleigh Superbe , bicycle