Calling retrosubculture geeks: what was the first bike you really loved? | Ben Thomas

Peter Walker's recent reminiscing about his hybrid bike of 20 years ago kicked me, and several people in the comment thread, into full-blown nostalgia mode. People started talking cowhorn bars, '91-model Raleigh Pioneers, and non-padded ribbon. We cycle geeks love a subculture. With subcultures, the obscurer the better, and nothing is obscurer than something that no longer exists – retrosubculture rules.

Think back to the first time you saw the first bike you really loved. If you're like me you'll remember the most obscure details – possibly more details, in fact, than you do about the first time you saw the person who you now count as most significant in your life. Sad, in both senses of the word, but true.

My memory is the early-80s Raleigh Burner. The gold Super Burner. The smell of creosote on the shed door as I peered through a tiny gap before my birthday to catch an illicit narrow glimpse. The curve of the S on the word Super. The cushiony pad velcroed over the headset for which we BMX boys became eyewateringly grateful every time we crashed off a jerrybuilt ramp, and the presence of which probably averted a mini-population slump a decade or two later. The odd and pointless tread pattern on the tyres.

A friend had the "Mag" one (blue and yellow, spokeless), another friend an odd orange and white one, if I remember rightly (the Ultra?). They weighed a tonne. We spent days trying for the ultimate endo, wheelie or bunnyhop, then went to bed to dream about stunt nuts. The owner of the first bike shop my dad went to had told him the gold paint flaked off Super Burners and people kept returning them, and flatly refused to order him one in – but that just made it seem more super.

So, retrocultural geeks, it's time to offload your absurdly detailed memories. If anyone owns up to sharing them, you'll probably get a cosy warm glow of recognition. If not, even better: you're a member of the smallest and most exclusive subculture possible.

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