Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My rides

I think after this post you will have a sense of how unassuming a blog this is. As stated in my first post, the bike I rode on my first commute was a cheap Sears brand bike. Well it still is! Yes, about two and a half years have past and the bicycle is still carrying me along. Actually, it's now my back up bike. I have another, an older ten-speed women's bicycle. It's a St. Tropez 440--a French bicycle made in Taiwan? I got it off of Craigslist for $30! I haven't done much to it either. It's my main bicycle, and has been for the better part of this year. It's faster than the so-called "18-speed" mountain bike from Sears, but both do the job.

The point of this post is to disspell the notion that a bike need be fancy or expensive, lest such stand as an excuse or impediment to bike commuting. A department store bike may not be the best, but it is serviceable. A bicycle is supposed to be a simple affair, and mostly it is. Any bicycle will need maintenance, and a bike is much easier to service than a car (if you're inclined to DIY)--a lot cheaper too! Unless you're really into speed, or you're an extreme mountain biker, a commuter's needs are modest.

Today bicycle frames are made from many materials, but steel is still one of the toughest and the cheapest. Tough is good for commuter vehicles. Trouble is, really cheap bikes also tend to be really heavy and bulky--avoid these. Steel=not bad, but too heavy is bad--you inevitably will have to carry the thing around in the city (steps, subway, etc...) and regret the weight. Naturally it affects speed too, but urban traffic makes excessive attention to speed dangerous. The other major problem is cheap components. Department store bikes usually have cheap components, but they are serviceable. They will need more maintenance for less performance, like American cars, but they do work. Of course, I also like to do most of my own work, so it's not a big deal. Eventually, I think a bike commuter should and would do similarly--it's part of the freedom and independence of biking.

Don't get me wrong, if you've got a nice ride, keep it! I'm just saying, if you don't, it's no biggie. Make sure it fits, make sure it's shifting pretty well, lube it up and off you go! Remember, safety first!


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