Thanks to the greatest wife in the world, the ISWE staff were able to ride parts of Milwaukee's Oak Leaf Trail and the Chicago Lakefront Trail... all in the same day. Milwaukee, in many ways, resembles a little Chicago--same lake, similar paths; both great, Great Lakes rides. If you enjoy cycling, great cities, Great Lakes, and great downtown areas, you have to take your small wheel or folding bike immediately to one, or both, of these great American cities. Thank you Daniel Burnham, and whoever did the same thing in Milwaukee, for keeping the coast clear for small wheels. Well done.
ISWE did not encounter a single small wheeler on a recent trip to downtown Detroit, but did spy this little guy on a bright and sunny day in a tony Detroit suburb called Birmingham. Now, as cute as this bicycle is, you probably won't be able to rush right out and buy one. While there are lots of big-wheeled Azzurri bikes in the world, there don't seem to be very many Azzurra bikes, especially in the midwestern United States. Google Azzurra and you're likely to turn up this logo associated with an Italian yacht racing team and that makes sense. Folding bikes fit well in yachts. There are yachts close to Birmingham... maybe not Italian yachts, but that's beside the point. The frame is steel. It is an older bike and it resembles a classic Raleigh Twenty. It's not going to fold as compact as a Brompton or fly as ride as quick as a Moulton, but it sure would be great for window shopping and people watching at a leisurely landlubber's pace in the burbs. Or, you could modify this thing and end up with a pretty cool Raleigh Twenty-esque vintage road machine (see below). Was glad to see this Azzurra under its own blue sky. A casual bike for an undoubtedly casual rider... as evidenced by the casual, almost daring, bike locking style.
While the Azzurra appears quite similar to the Raleigh, note the difference in the connection in the center of the main tube on the Raleigh. The hinge on the Raleigh is more robust part of a stiff, well-made frame. One could make the Azzurra into a reasonably fashionable facsimile of the Raleigh, but it certainly wouldn't ride like one.
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Small wheels rule!