If Keats wasn’t thinking about a bicycle when he penned the opening line to Endymion, it was surely only because they had only just been invented at the time. If he were alive today and happened upon a fine example of the form – such as a Bobbin Birdie, pictured above – I’m confident he would agree how apposite his words are.
That’s certainly what I thought when I came across a sky blue Bobbin Birdie locked up alongside my bike the other day. Up until that point, I’d been perfectly happy with my workaday wheels. But next to the irresistible curves, retro styling and delicate colouring of this most beautiful of bicycles, my trusty steed suddenly looked, well, somewhat prosaic.
As I stood there gazing in appreciation, I found myself swallowed up by lust. I wanted a Bobbin Birdie. I had visions of myself riding one, Audrey Hepburn-like, through the streets of London. I would look glamorous and oh-so-cool: immaculately dressed, perfectly made up and with not a hair out of place, nor a drop of sweat on me.
These Instagram-tinted daydreams lasted right up until the point I discovered how much the Bobbin Birdie weighs.
I don’t know how much my trusty steed weighs, but I know it’s nowhere near that much. I know this, because I can easily carry it, fully laden, up the steps from the platform at Dalston Kingsland station. There’s no way I’d be able to do that single-handedly with a bike that weighs 14 kilos, in addition to the weight of all the stuff I always seem to carry about with me.
Therein lies the crux of the matter. The Bobbin Birdie, like many of its ilk, might look beautiful, but it’s not very practical. It’s designed for pootling around at a leisurely pace – and looking fabulous while doing so – rather than any serious journeys.
It certainly wouldn’t get me to and from work every day. To manage my regular commute – 10 miles each way across north London – in a reasonable time without collapsing into a sweaty, panting mess, I need something a bit lighter. A bit niftier. A bit closer to what I already have, in fact.
Given how much cycling I do, and how much I rely on my bike to get me around, I’ve reluctantly had to bid adieu to my Audrey Hepburn-style daydreams. They were never realistic anyway – when am I ever immaculately dressed or perfectly made-up, either on or off my bike? But a part of me still hankers after the Bobbin Birdie, and wonders why I have to choose between practicality and style. Is it possible to combine the two?