Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Helen Pidd on the Batavus Lento Deluxe

Writing in Saturday's Guardian Weekend magazine (17 December) Helen Pidd explains how she can never understand anybody who takes the bus when the option of cycling is open to them. Well, how about when it's raining, Helen? But, she argues, when she moved to a foreign country (I'm guessing Germany and Berlin) she bought a cheap bike and discovered that 'riding a rubbish bike is no fun at all'.
The male version of the Batavus Lento is available in blue and black.

Well, of course. Having spent around £700 on my Kona Scrap, I must admit that I would never trade it in for a cheap ride from Halfords (not that all Halfords bikes are cheap, they used to sell Konas there too).

Getting back to Helen: she took delivery of a Batavus Lento (click here for more details of the company behind the bike) and she described it thus: 'it was like having sex with somebody who knows how to do it after years with a blundering novice; like tasting real pesto after a lifetime eating it out of a jar'.

My pesto always comes from a jar and as for sex with a blundering novice, well, hey, I need more practice I guess.

Describing the Batavus Lento, Pidd said that turning the pedals was effortless and that 'a light tap on the brakes brought me to a firm yet peaceful stop'. She said that the front light (front light?) was powered by a dynamo (now, that's what I need) and that it was so bright she had 'enormous fun deliberately dazzling friends while pretending to be Mulder or Scully with their industrial torches'.

Just for the record, Mulder and Scully used Maglites.

According to Helen, 'a cute little pump' was built into the Lento's rear rack and was never needed.

The Batavus is a Dutch brand and while it is what Helen calls 'a traditional sit-up-and-beg' bike, it's pretty speedy too, with seven gears offering an excellent range. She never needed to dip below two and found herself 'really flying' along Berlin's Karl-Marx-Allee.

And then she went and ruined the whole article: 'The fact that it [the Lento] looks a little ploddy may be a disadvantage to some, but being underestimated by men on racing bikes is one of my favourite things'.

Hmmm...men, racing bikes. We're not all Lycra monkeys (or Mamils). 'I love swooshing past while they're fiddling with their clip-on shoes at the traffic lights'.

But is Helen ever really satisfied? No. She admits herself that she started to nit-pick. She thought the Lento was still a 'hulk of a bike' despite its aluminium frame, that the rack at the back was too chunky and the back light was not powered by a dynamo and needed batteries. She disliked the girly white or pink colour options (men, there is a male version of this bike in black or blue).

The colour options and, indeed, all her criticisms of the Lento were mere 'toothpaste squeezing/seat-up' sort of issues and not grounds for divorce (or, in the case of a bike, taking it back to the shop).

In short, Helen found the Lento a joy to ride and far better than taking the bus (although she didn't mention anything about her options when it rains).

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas Matthew, and have a wonderful New year too! keeping Biking.