Saturday, April 05, 2008

Bikes come in all types for all people

Couple bicycle commuting on a tandem in New York City
From the Daily Star (Oneonta, NY), 04.05.08:

The weather is just about perfect to begin a full season of biking. Current world affairs make riding a bike environmentally correct, financially satisfying and the secret to a healthy mind and body...

More than 100 years (after the first popular wave of bicycling), the bike is again going to step up onto the podium of popular choice as fuel costs, automobile prices, rising insurance and pollution curb this driving nation. Bike designers seem to have been anticipating the demand with designs that are efficient, comfortable and durable, as well as being eye-appealing.

One great thing about bikes is that with a small amount of upkeep, there is little expense beyond the initial purchase, and you can save money, too...

Add up all of this biking information and the sum total is priceless with the sights you will see, the money you save, the exercise you get and the adventures you will have to share. The season has begun! (Read more.)
One of the most common inquiries I get from visitors to my bike commuting tips site is: "What bike should I get?" And the response I usually make is just what the reporter on this story did: visit a trusted local bike shop and consult with the staff. Selecting the right bike is very subjective. The experienced staff at a bike shop can advise prospective bicyclists on the most appropriate ride, after consulting on the buyer's needs, tastes, budget, abilities, and expected travel distance.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Suggestions for buying a bike
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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1 comment:

dr2chase said...

Given what I know from years of cycling, I wouldn't trust my local bike shop that much. "Mountain" bikes seem to make up the bulk of the merchandise. Ask yourself, do you or anyone you know, ride on a "mountain"? Those knobby tires tax you severely on anything flat, and what they do best with mud (where they do provide slightly improved traction) is fling it. Furthermore, mountain bikes now come with elaborate front and rear suspensions -- useful on actual mountains and rocky trails, but not so good on ordinary streets and ordinary unpaved paths, where they rob the rider's energy.

For most casual riders, on anything short of an actual mountain, the bike should have the largest possible, quality, near-slick tires. They provide lower resistance at casual speeds (I measured -- if you hear different, ask someone how they know). They provide a smoother ride over bumps, they do not sink into sand or mud, they ride over cracks in the road and sewer grates. Their enormous volume and lower pressure means that you can go weeks between reinflating them. They protect your rims from damage, too.

I bought a pair to ease the ride on a used "mountain-biking" tandem that I bought for cheap, they worked so well that I bought a pair for my commuter, including new smaller-diameter rims so that they would clear the frame.

Few new bikes come equipped with these sensible tires, though it is possible to upgrade a mountain bike, if you can find one without a ridiculous suspension.

What spurred this rant was an attempt to find a bicycle that my wife would be comfortable and happy riding, perhaps even on a 6 mile commute. The myth of thin-tires-better (remember, I measured, they're not) exerts a powerful influence -- I could find only one under $1000 that comes equipped with properly wide tires (Electra Amsterdam Balloon 8), and it's not clear that the other bikes provide the necessary clearances to upgrade to those tires, though the Kona AfricaBike looks like it might. "Largest possible tire" is not a typical bicycle metric.

(The other bikes that I am considering, and that appear to be "best choices" excluding my desire for large tires are: Breezer Town Bikes, Biria Easy Boarding, and Jamis Commuter. The Retrovelo Paula is beautiful and has fat tires, but is a bit pricy. Or, I could renovate an existing bicycle.)