Hey, Gilbert! What is that?

When I last talked with Gilbert Anderson more than five years ago he had just relocated his eclectic North Road Bicycle Imports from downtown Raleigh to Yanceyville and was just getting unpacked. When we dropped by his downtown Yanceyville shop Saturday he was … still getting unpacked. The reason wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows the affable Anderson: Distract him with his favorite topic — bikes, especially unusual ones — and he’ll stop what he’s doing and embark on a discourse that may bounce from internal hubs to belt drives to ultralight steel frames of the ‘70s, to why road racing was banned in England to the latest cycling sensation. All, seemingly, in the same breath.

That latest cycling sensation? Though Gilbert was a bike racer in the ‘70s into the ‘80s, his true love is eclectic transportation of the two-wheel type. His old Raleigh shop off North Street in Raleigh was festooned with bikes from around the world, bikes you likely had never seen before or heard of. Of particular interest: small-wheeled adult bikes that can be driven to the corner coffee shop or across the country. For years, he’s been the U.S. importer for Moulton bikes. As Gilbert’s Web site observes, “Moulton, an 85-year-old British engineer, is famous for his uniquely designed bicycles that separate for traveling. Not cheap, these engineering works of art start at USD $1,300.”

His latest fascination is another uniquely designed small-wheel bike: the iXi. The iXi is a four-speed internal hub, belt-driven, aluminum frame, small-wheel bike loaded with the fun/funky engineering (the toolkit fits inside the hollow seat post, a raincoat stashes inside the frame) that Gilbert loves. It … well, instead of trying to explain it further, check out this quick video.

4 thoughts on “Hey, Gilbert! What is that?”

  1. I got to test ride one of those around the Yanceyville square last fall. Nice little bike. It still tempts me, and when/if my 40 year-old, break-apart bike gives up the ghost, this would make a fitting replacement. The iXi is like the futuristic, high-tech, great-grandson of my old Sears Tote-Cycle. And Gilbert’s shop is indeed a cluttered warehouse of everything I ever wanted to add to my bike, not to mention the bikes themselves. And so much of what you’ll see on the shelf is what most shops would consider specialty items, and would have to order them. It’s a dangerous and wonderful shop for a person who loves bicycles.

    1. Sears! Who would have guessed they were pioneers in cycling. (OK, maybe not pioneers. But they saw the potential in something unusual. I was so intrigued by the Tote-Cycle, Rob, that I had to Google it.

      1. I had never heard of it until it popped up on Craigslist. I don’t know that it was innovative as much as a cheaper knock-off the Raleigh Twenty, Moulton, and other collapsible bikes of the day, but for a small wheel bike, it’s got a long wheel base, making a solid, smooth ride. It doesn’t shrink down small by the iXi standards (or by any folding bike standards. It’s the pickup truck of folding bikes), but it fits in the car, so it gets to go places the other bikes don’t.
        Dolled up for the Sho Nuff memorial ride: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_e/4499106664/
        Carrying me around Ohio:
        It’s a fun, little(ish) bike.

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