Some Paul Smith 531

Good! Young! Inspired!

Pockets, Weatherproof, Temperature Control

Words by Jonathan Sadler

When you become an enthusiast part of your brain is activated and you start noticing that for which you are enthused. Take Volkswagen Eurovans for example, once you decide you love them you see them everywhere. Or the way birders will stop dead in their tracks at the sight of a wren tit or any tit for that matter. When we were young punks, the words Guaranteed Built with Reynolds 531 Butted Tubes, Forks and Stays,” sounded so sweet, like poetry must sound to people who get poetry. For us, it got to the point that if we saw the number 531, we had to stop for a closer look. It was of course usually a decal on a bike. But even my grandparent’s next door neighbor’s address, 531 W. Broad St, always caught my eye. To this day, if one of us walks by a bike rack and there is a bike made with Reynolds 531 we will know it. It is so ingrained in us that it has become an involuntary reflex. Like a well-trained musician who no longer has to think of what keys to hit or string to pluck, we no longer have to look. The number 753 was good too but it was fancier and less attainable. We liked our dreams within reach, within the scope of a paper route salary or in the tax bracket of a yard worker. That is, if you lived at home and someone else paid the real bills.

531 bicycle tubing is now only available through special order but fear not. You can get BS4t45 to Bs5T100. But somehow those letters and numbers do not roll of the tongue like 531.

There was, once upon a time, an English-red Raleigh Super Course at a bike shop in Auburn, California that had both of the above enticing descriptions attached to it: Campagnolo Equipped and Guaranteed Built With Reynolds 531… In this case it was the three main tubes and the rest was chromoly. Close enough. The point is it had the decal: Reynolds 531. I wanted it. I put it on layaway.

Some years ago I bought a beautiful grey wool suit with subtle – very subtle – yellow stripes. It was made by life long cyclist and cycling enthusiast Sir Paul Smith. No, Mr. McCartney is not the only Sir Paul in England. Recently Sir Paul Smith started a line of cycling apparel called 531. Naturally, that caught our eyes. As a young sir of about 12, Mr. Smith started racing bikes and kept at it until a now famous crash put him in the hospital for three months. He broke a lot of bones – unfortunately all his. One thing that was important to young Paul was looking good on the bike. He has said something to the effect that looking cool was almost as important as winning. We can relate to that. I have the 531 Weatherproof Cycling Jacket. I have worn it on and off the bike around Chicago. I wore it to the Soho House for tea where I was reminded that at least two of us have worn Tenspeed Hero gear into Sir Paul’s Soho store (the London Soho). The jacket fit me like a glove, a warm comfortable upper body glove. That jacket made me feel the way the number 531 made us feel and still does. It is similar to the way vintage Campagnolo decals made us feel. Good. Young. Inspired.