Monday, October 24, 2016

Style, comfort, and some other stuff

Taking a break from thinking about politics in America to post a stream-of-consciousness about tires and handlebars...

When I decided to take up the bicycle again at the beginning of this year, I had specific ideas about the type of bike I should get. For one thing, it couldn't have drop bars. Drop bars would force me to ride in an uncomfortable position. And it couldn't have skinny tires, because I wanted to go any place that looked interesting -- and sometimes those places were a little muddy, or were just simple dirt tracks.

I came to these opinions with no basis except for knowledge gleaned from reading the internet, and...well, you know what that's worth.

But thinking about these things did start me thinking about the audience for most current bicycles. The idea of "wider is better" as regards tires has pretty much gained acceptance, and I'm all for that. Perhaps not to the extent that we'll all end up riding fat bikes, but at least to the extent that it's easier to find tires that are not wafer-thin and prone to pinch flats.  Yesterday I rode through what I felt was an inordinate amount of broken glass for a ride of less than fifteen miles, and yet I was not worried about flats. I suppose I should check my tires for cuts, but still, I'm much less worried than I would be on skinny racing tires.

It also seems that straight handlebars are gaining larger acceptance. Even the iconic Surly Cross-Check is available in a flat bar model. It seems that just a few years ago the only bikes that didn't have drop bars were beach cruisers, mountain bikes, and children's bikes. Now we have the ubiquitous hybrids with flat bars. I believe this is largely due to the rise in the use of bikes for simple transportation and recreation; or at least that many of us have given up the idea that bikes are for racing.

You may have noticed that this post is not trying to make a point; I'm merely expressing my opinion about what seems to be a few current fashions in bicycling. Either of my two regular readers should feel free to express their opinions.

Another thing that is gaining wider acceptance is the idea that streets are not exclusively for cars. Yesterday the city where I work shut off about twelve blocks of a main street, making those blocks for pedestrians and bicycles only. It was very crowded, and part of it turned into a test of how slowly I could ride a bike. I'd really like to see this more, though; even if a city only does this once a month, I think it makes the city more livable.

I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. Next time I'll try to have an actual main point. Or, if not, I'll just start modeling myself more after BikeSnobNYC. Yeah, that's it...I'll start calling myself BikeSchlubCA (CA for California, not Canada).  Then I'll start making a quasi-living at this. And bike manufacturers will start sending me samples for review. Yeah, yeah...that'll happen.

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