A Wild Ride: Kasper Strömman on Dailying the World’s Oldest Pelago

Hi, I’m Kasper Strömman, Graphic Designer of the Year (Finland) 2013. I am still using my 09’ Pelago to get around on a daily basis. It has been a wild ride.

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When I first met Mikko Hyppönen of Pelago fame he had just graduated as a Graphic Designer. For his end-of-year show I remember him skilfully crafting a bike out of the door of a 1970’s Volvo. To this day I am very impressed by this. Some years later he founded Pelago Bicycles together with his brother Mikko, and I remember buying my bike in 2010. I believe it’s one the first specimens ever made, manufactured in 2009.

The bike was a three-speed, but I persuaded Mikko to convert it into a single speed for me, because I liked – and still like – the idea of a really simple machine that would require virtually no upkeep. Mikko did it begrudginly, and even put in a little stabilizing spring in the front of the bike as a test. The spring did absolutely nothing, and to my knowledge has since not been seen on later Pelagos.

Did you notice the front rack? The front rack has been an absolute game changer for me. I slapped on the beer crate the first summer with some cable ties, and have since been constantly amazed by the added load capacity. Also, people get a lot of joy out of seeing it, since it’s a 1969 vintage one. The beer brand later changed it’s name to Karhu, but especially older folks have fond memories of the name Porin Olut. I can see their eyes glaze over when they stop me in the street and wax lyrical about all the memories the beer evokes from their youth.

At this point I have to point out that I have used the bike on a near-daily basis since 2010. It’s also been standing outside most of it’s life in sleet and hail, and I only service it when I absolutely have to. Plus I only wash it once a year, when it’s unbelievably filthy. Effectively you could argue I have been abusing the bike contantly for almost 15 years now. Considering this I really must compliment on the quality. I feel it’s a small wonder it’s still rolling.

But everything must come to an end. The bike was holding up fine until about five years ago the City of Helsinki adapted a new Winter Biking Strategy. Which involved salt. Lots of lots of salt generously spread over the city’s bike lanes. Dunes of salt. And since the bike is used through the winter and effectively never washed, this has started eating up my beloved vintage Pelago. The detoriaration of the bike has since the new salt strategy been quick and merciless.

So while it’s been one hell of ride, the spring of 2024 will mean a new Pelago for me. For anyone else the take away of this past fifteen years would probably be ‘service your bike’. But I guess we’ll just have to see about that. Because if the quality of the new bike is anything like the old, I should be fine. Especially after moving house I can stove it away in a bike shed now at night.

So thank you vintage Pelago for your service – and here’s to the next fifteen years of riding. 

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