Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some Thoughts on Cycling

Ever since primary school I have owned bicycles. They are probably the most efficient form of transport available and will become more popular as gas prices increase. Bicycles are becoming more popular for exercise as well with quite a resurgence in the racing style of bike. For quite a while I considered the mountain bike to be the ultimate bicycle because of its ruggedness. You can ride anywhere on a mountain bike, over curbs, off road, down steps and on lawns. But then I would ride my mountain bike around the park circuit and be passed by people riding the latest racing bikes and I began to feel a little old fashioned.

To have any street credibility I would have to get myself a cool new bike. So I went out and bought what could be described as an ‘entry level’ competitive bike. It has a 101 gear set and carbon fibre seat stem, forks and rear stay. Very lightweight and modern design with some mountain bike styling in its frame design.

A year later I find that I rarely ride it preferring instead to use my old converted mountain bike. I even sunk $600 into replacing the rear wheel, gears and chain. This bike is far more practical for my use than the road bike. As I ride to the park where I do my running I cross over curbs, lawns, cattle grates and roads, dodging traffic and pedestrians. The road bike is too fragile and unstable for this sort of activity.

The road bike is probably more useful for long distance riding where speed and efficiency are helpful and where the direction of travel remains fairly constant. I’m not sure that I favour this sort of riding now as you have to mix with a lot of fast traffic on a fragile and less stable machine. It may not be conducive to longevity.

What I really need to do is design an Active Survivalist bike. This bike’s focus would be durability and ruggedness with stability and good stopping power. It would handle all weather conditions and be able to carry equipment if desired. It would be designed for mostly road yet be quite capable off-road. It would need to be super reliable requiring the minimum of tweaking. I imagine it would have disk brakes, a flat handle bar, possibly internal hub type gearing with a steel frame and front suspension. It would have mudguards, strong wheels and wide smooth tyres. Extra mounting points for fitting accessories would be good too. All equipment would be of high quality and it would have to look cool, which is no mean feat. Built in rechargeable electrical equipment would be pretty neat as well for visibility and early morning night riding. The pedals would need to accommodate running shoes. This bike would be a sort of urban assault machine yet be quite capable of long distance riding too.

Maybe over the next year I will search for bits and pieces to build my own Active Survivalist bike.

Here is an amusing piece by P. J. O'Rourke on cycling.


Ricardo's Law said...

Too bad you're not closer by, 'cause I've been importing the ultimate survivalist bikes - the heavy-duty Chinese Shanghai Forever and the world-famous Tianjin Flying Pigeon.

You might want to see whether you could get your hands on one of these as the foundation for your survivalist bike; they're rugged enough, are very low-maintenance, and are in daily use in some of the worst places, under the worst conditions, imaginable.

AA said...

Thanks for visiting. I had a look at those bikes - quite interesting but probably a bit 'retro' for my taste.