In 2020, I joined a vintage bicycle club on facebook. In 2021, I acquired a 50-year-old pre-owned classic BSA roadster and got it reconditioned. And in 2022, I saw a documentary film on classic bicycles titled – THE SOUL OF A CYCLIST. What’s next in 2023? I don’t have the answer, nor I can predict; but now, I can certainly share my views about the documentary film I watched.
Directed by Nuno Tavares under the banner ‘AntiCyclone Productions’, The Soul of a Cyclist revolves around the subject of classic bicycles. Shot in Portugal and in England, the film captures personal experiences of individuals who own and ride classic bicycles and their deep connection with them. The film highlights several short stories of individuals of classic bicycles owners that includes a cycling club in Portugal and a vintage bicycle festival in England. The film brings forth the testimonials of several bicycle owners who have used their classic bicycles for various purposes such as touring, commuting, endurance or just for leisure and are the real-life fans of this segment.
The Soul of a Cyclist touches upon the sensitive issue of how the market of classic bicycles has shrunk and the category has become niche. In the present era, there are limited people who bond with the vintage bicycles and continue to ride them with passion. They are proud owners of these remarkable machines and have an inseparable relationship with it. On the contrary, they also face hardships in maintaining their bicycles on account of lack of availability of original parts. Besides, the tribe of trained mechanics who can handle the repair work of classic bicycles is also dwindling.
The demand for vintage bicycles has slowed down as the market has shifted towards more modern and contemporary offerings. It’s a struggle for the last few remaining manufacturers of classic bicycles and ancillary units. It is through sheer love for this niche category that some of the manufacturers continue to operate and provide handmade, sturdy and long-lasting bicycles despite narrow demand and slow business. But there is no competition with the modern bicycle manufacturers as the target audience is vastly different and so is the overall product performance.
The movie The Soul of a Cyclist has a subtle message that the bicycles transport us in our discovery and in our reflection. We spend quality time with our bicycles, we interact with nature during our rides, we make new friends, we become creative, and we happily move along in life. Unfortunately, the value of old is diminishing in our society. From a minimalistic lifestyle we are in constant search for more which is why we are unsatisfied and that is the reason for our unhappiness.
The bicycle is not just a means of transport but a way of bringing people together – a machine that transports you internally and externally. Bicycles give you the power of imagination. The movie invites audiences to dare to ride a classic bicycle and feel the joy of cycling as it’s extremely rewarding. When on a bicycle you start seeing life from a different perspective. The one-hour ten-minute documentary film closes with the message that ‘life is short and time moves fast, we must ride to enjoy without harming anyone and make our living sweeter and smoother on this planet’. A perfect message in these disturbing times of Russia-Ukraine War. ‘Build Bicycles not Bombs’ appeals The Soul of a Cyclist.
Watch the full documentary here.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai