Sat 6 Mar 2010
Given my fondness for bikes (the only way to fly!), and my fondness for cute girls, my tandem bike works quite well in my life. But, that being said, I also have a fondness for mini-skirts and high-heels (I know, I know) and things like that So what to do?…..
A few weeks ago, the answer dawned on me:
Step 1: Find an awesome cute girl
Step 1: Find a rickshaw!
I checked Craigslist up and down the West Coast (& a few East Coast cities) and then eBay, and then Googled everything I could think of. Most of the links were about modern pedicabs and the like – but a few were gold, especially after I realized I needed to filter my search to classic Asian ones.* After much Googling I came up with a few different types like these…
Step 2: Find one actually for sale.
Many of the posts were for ones that were once on sale and had been sold or were otherwise unavailable. Luckily one of my first hits was a guy (Hi Jason!**) down in Orange County who happened to have a genuine ROMP (Rickshaw of My People)….it was gorgeous but was sadly missing it’s canopy. He had bought it off someone a few years earlier who had brought a few back with him from India & had no need of it. I really liked it, esp. the hand painting (see the photo below) , but I was really bummed about the canopy. I kept looking, but in the end decided the price was right, the seller was helpful & really it was just a beautiful machine – so it was on.
Step 3: I borrowed something big enough to fit a rickshaw in it (it turns out a rickshaw will just fit perfectly in a small SUV(!)), woke up crazy early last Sunday and drove down to Orange County. In a brutal day of driving I returned around midnight with a large disassembled rickshaw! (thanks for the loan Sean!)
Step 4: I put it back together, took it to a nearby bike shop, let them do some fixes on it & took it for a test ride. Up until that point, I had never ridden it – it’s chain was broken when I bought it – so there was no test ride. Thus, I was really excited to try it out.
Hmmmm. Not what I hoped.
It was crazy heavy, and really uncomfortable to ride. The seat was like a brick, the handlebars way too low, and the fixed-rod breaking system left me skeptical. But more than anything else – it was just heavy heavy HEAVY. I have strong legs, and bike constantly, but this really had me intimidated – would it be any fun?
I took it back to the bike shop, where we put on a new seat, and raised the handlebars as high as we could (only a little more) and did some other minor tweaks that rendered it a lot more comfortable, but there wasn’t much else to be done & I took it home. The only thing to do was to try it out for real as soon as possible.
Step 5: So yesterday was the day: the shakedown cruise. I decided to surprise Kimberly (the alpha-cuteness in my life) by picking her up on a cross town grocery shopping trip (she’s a fan of the Chinese shops on Clement).
And how was it? Well the bad news is that it was still crazy-super heavy, but the good news is that it was nonetheless SOOO MUCH FUN. The ride there by myself was slow (45 minutes) but fun, and the ride back with Kimberly and a bunch of groceries was even better. Kimberly got out and pushed once and decided to give me a ride for a block or so and we had to walk it up a hill – but wow – what fun! People all over town got excited or amused seeing us (We posed for lots of pictures). The passenger seat was comfortable and easy to sit on(another concern I had) & there was plenty of room for groceries It was just a great time, leisurely trundling around town on a gorgeous spring day.
The hardest part was biking up my street on the way home. By that time I was plenty tired & the slope up Valencia St. to my house (& on to Kimberly’s 4 blocks later) is long and steady. It was a big problem and no fun. But at least the rest of the day was fantastic.
In the end, I LOVE MY RICKSHAW. It is seriously FUN! That being said, I’ve decided that as much as I love that it is a fully authentic Indian rickshaw, I’d rather have a somewhat less authentic Indian rickshaw that I’d use more often. The part I’m most excited about is the gorgeous passenger seat assembly with the hand-painted peacocks, lions, and Hindi script (see possible translation above). So I think I’m going to try to get a lighter frame bike for the front half, and have someone build me a lighter back assembly to put the original passenger seat on. I think that will be perfect & even more fun. Also hopefully they can build me a canopy We’ll see! So, stay tuned for the continuation of Project Rickshaw! (and if you know of any bike frame whizzes let me know!)
And fear not Trikeasaurus fans! Trikeasaurus 2.0 is almost here!
Here are more pix from the shakedown cruise:
These next few shots are from Brian Kusler’s always-fun Flickr stream. There are a few more cute shots there! Thanks BK!
*This also fits in well with my new found appreciation and curiosity about the ancestral homeland, India. But I also have to say, I REALLY want one of these Taiwanese ones, bad!
If you ever come across one please let me know.
Also this cool Chinese one is on sale on eBay & I can’t help but to keep thinking about it
** BTW: Jason seems to have another one that he’ll probably be selling soon if anyone is interested.