Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bikes as tools of comfort and function (aka...It's not always about the adrenaline people!)

This is not a remark to isolate all of us rural community cyclists, but is here to offer an insight into how the big players in the cycling industry are finally designing bikes for "the rest of us". This typically refers to a weekend cyclist or commuter who's idea of going for a ride is more likely to be a paved or gravel pathway (separated from vehicular traffic) or a ride downtown to their favorite coffee shop for an early morning treat than hurtling themselves off a cliff or riding 100km on the highway.Golden has some of the best cycling opportunities in the world with fantastic downhill, cross country and road cycling. What seems to be forgotten a lot of the time is that there is an entirely other market segment, one which accounts for over 75% of bike sales worldwide.It seems that there is a lot of intimidation when it comes to cycling in our community. New cyclists are freaked out when they walk into a shop and find that a price point bike starts at $1000, or sales staff aren't knowledgeable in how to mount fenders, or find it annoying to discuss simple thing such as what type of lube to use. Many shops simply cater to the tourists with their expensive bikes and don't even recognize the middle aged local standing there who needs to know what kind of tube he needs for his old ten speed. Take care of your community first people! (RANT)
Specialized, one of the industries original players, in fact, one of the originators of the mountain bike, has just released an entirely new division of their company called Globe which is aimed at the commuter/hipster/slow biker. While these bikes don't officially release for another few months a few leaks have filtered through which continue to create much buzz throughout the industry, which really, is a return to the simplicicty of years pasts.

Specialized is not the only company offering more colour variation to their paint booth. Style plays a role in today's bikes. While basic and utilitarian they still offer a visually stimulating pedal. The single speed movement has seen a drastic increase in usership in the past few years with simplicity in maintenance and purity of style offering a glimpse of past decades and a century of cycling when it wasn't all about how many gears you had. K.I.S.S.

Function over fashion...not necessarily. You can actually have it all. No I'm not trying to sell you a new bike, although I have lived that life. I am trying to instill a sense of "doing everything" on your bike. There is really no need to jump in your car, drive three blocks and buy two bags of groceries. Bikes are coming with all sorts of cargo type features such as this cargo rack. Sure it would be nice to have one of these in your garage but you can rig up your existing bike with a set of fenders, lights and rack to allow you the freedom to negotiate anything our little town of Golden has to throw at you. There are people who commute 30-40km everyday on their bikes in Golden. Have you seen them yet? Every time you throw a leg over your bike or walk somewhere it saves you money (gas), and a little portion of the air we breath (emissions).
For the price of two tanks of gas in a mid size car you can set up your bike for commuting daily. Just imagine how much your heart will appreciate it.
Yet another display if simplicity. This is an 8 speed bike but has no external derailleurs to tear off or maintain. Some of these new bikes are even getting rid of a chain in favor of a belt drive, the exact same thing as your car utilizes. This creates a quiet and incredibly strong, low maintenance vehicle. You'll have to replace your tires every three or four years at $30 each, but you can't say that about your car. Most residents of Golden probably spend that much every couple days on their motorized vehicles, if not more.
Built in generator lights, similar to those of years past are one of the hottest selling aftermarket items these days. Reducing our need for disposable and harmful products (batteries) the "dynamo light" runs off of electricity produced by a small generator which spins on the tires sidewall. Portable power to keep you safe at night, which cost and pollutes nothing.
Reduce your impact, reduce your dependency on fossil fuels and pull out your bike. Searching the local thrift store, used bike shops, and garage sales will often turn up some fantastic gems from the past. In fact, until this past week (where Annabelle-my old bikes name-switched hands to a new owner) I had been riding a 1954 CCM cruiser bike with side racks and generator light which I pulled out of the dump ten years ago. Now, I'm on the quest for something a bit more functional with a couple gears and more space to pull all of our recycling on the weekends to the recycling center.

Lastly, what people have seemed to forget is that if they search back through all of the experiences through their lives, there is guaranteed one, usually from their childhood, that involves a bike. Cycling is fun....let yourself rediscover those great experiences. Leave the car at home and pull out that bike your soul with thank you for it!

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