50th Anniversary Little 500 Bicycle
It’s amazing what $50 and Craigslist will get you, this time a genuine Little 500 bicycle, as raced in the 50th anniversary event. The basics are that students from Indiana University race for glory on four-person teams for 200-laps of Bloomington’s soccer stadium. Outside of Indiana, the race first came to prominence in the 1979 Oscar winner, Breaking Away. Rules handed down to level the playing field and remain true to the original spirit lead to a modern day bicycle oddity – a road bike with one-piece BMX cranks, flat pedals and a coaster brake tied together with a one-size-fits-most frame. This is modeled after the original Roadmaster bikes of the day, with the brand of the bike changing throughout the years, settling on Mongoose and then Schwinn in recent years. There is no doubt about it, this is essentially a department store quality bicycle with a bit of history within for good measure. After some laps and surely some fanciful trip spanning years from there to here, this one now hangs in the basement of the Urban Velo headquarters with the rest of the freak-show collection.
The real question is to why a bike along these lines isn’t available in department stores, as I have a sneaking suspicion such a bicycle would fit the needs of many people far better than the full-suspension monstrosities currently dominating the racks.