My tiny ALAN bicycle that I had converted to a commuter and forwarded on to a family member has returned home. It’s sojourn into a new household involved many changes to help make it more comfortable for the rider in question, including an upright riding position and simple to use index shifting with a single chain ring up front. Unfortunately, its new owner could not make peace with it, nor with any two-wheeled machine, and is now investigating trikes, which are a great alternative for cyclists who experience wrist pain while riding. I love all the alternatives that are now available to those who wish to enjoy the benefits of cycling: e-bikes, trikes, recumbents, small wheeled bikes, folders – the list goes on! Not only is the bicycle is the most efficient human-powered machine out there, nothing can really rival the joy of cycling – whether on an old three speed or a new racing machine.
Today I took the opportunity to take the little ALAN out on a ride, to assess its condition and consider ergonomic changes, and to just enjoy riding this 19 lb machine with its 48 x 48 frame and 24 inch wheels.
ALAN bicycles were first produced back in 1972 when the company introduced its aluminum frame cyclocross bikes. Stainless steel engraved lugs hold the aluminum tubes in place. Those tubes are not just bonded with glue, but also threaded in. Riding an ALAN frame is a lot like riding a steel frame – the bike is flexible and forgiving, but not excessively so.
This ALAN is an unusual bike, with its 24 inch wheels and small frame. All of its components were Dura Ace and Shimano 600 when I aquired this bike several years ago. Its wheelset is Shimano 600 hubs laced to Mavic rims, producing a competent and comfortable ride.
I kept the Dura Ace brake calipers and bottom bracket, and the original wheelset. I installed micro knobby tires to make the bike a bit more versatile. While these tires might slow you down a bit on a road ride, they are perfect for venturing out on a goat path (or two).
And today, that’s exactly what I did . The ALAN and I explored unknown territory with grace and aplomb. The bike can be ridden for hours, without any feeling of fatigue. It’s such a special machine, and one that I look forward to riding more.
Nola, Great to be re-united with an old friend. I have always been intrigued by these bikes , both Alan and Guercotti. Some say that there is a bonding issue or sometimes cracking in the lugs , I have seen several that are fine and holding up. That was the year I graduated H.S. (1972) so I guess this example has stood the test of time. Happy pedaling, Joe
I hope you have a chance to try one out!
I remember my father racing on one of these in the seventies, he stopped trusting the frame after several years ( I assume the bonding! ) but I am impressed that an Alan is still going forty years later!
Hope you enjoy it.