Sunday, July 1, 2018

almost back to bikes

I've been riding a little, largely commuting, working on getting back the cardiovascular fitness I would swear I had before going on vacation. Vacation was great - walking six hours a day keeps your walking muscles in shape -- but it doesn't do a great deal of good for your biking muscles or your lungs. At least I don't think so, but I'm hardly an expert in these matters.

Outside of work and biking, I've been concentrating on music. I think I've felt guilty for not practicing for quite a while. Then I ran into this quote by American poet Mary Oliver that pushed me back into practicing more than I've done in a while:

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

But I've been thinking about bikes. Largely negatively, but I am thinking about them. Ok, maybe my negativity is focused on my fitness, which seems to be an up and down thing. But since my fitness is largely dependent on get the idea.

I've also been thinking negative thoughts about the bike industry. Those thoughts center around what I can only think of as poor design decisions. Namely, that all of the higher end (more expensive) bikes come with drop bars.

I am a big fan of riding upright. I never ride in the drops, because...well, because it's uncomfortable.  So, I'm pretty much a fan of flat bar bikes. And I notice that most of the flat bar bikes I see for sale are sort of...well...under-equipped. Excepting the big-ticket mountain bikes, most flat-bar bikes have what I think of as entry-level components. The better grade of components seem to be reserved for drop-bar bikes.

Why is this? I think it's because flat bar bikes are thought of as entry level, while drop bar bikes are for serious riders.

I have an ideal in my mind, and perhaps this is only my ideal. It's a touring-style bike, road frame but with a slightly longer chainstay, flat bar, triple crankset, and trigger shifters. Ideally, the flat bar would be something like a Jones bar (or the Surly Moloko bar), but really any flat bar will do. One bike I've seen that comes close is the VSF Fahrradmanufaktur  T-700. Hey, aktiv Radfahren magazine gives it a "sehr gut" rating.
This bike does look sehr gut to me. (Photo owned by VSF Fahrradmanufaktur.)
But it seems the only option for this kind of bicycle in America is having one custom-built, which I'm not willing to do. Well, I am willing to do it -- but not for the money it would cost.

Time to get ready for today's ride. See you soon.


  1. I too think many of the European bike styles make more sense. I found this to be true with step through touring bikes. Wildly accepted and cheaper with a huge selection.

    1. I think this point was brought home when I read a book by an Englishman touring the US who commented on the number of bikes with drop bars. He thought (as I do), that drop bars are not useful for most purposes. He also said that most Europeans tour on flat bar bikes. This may have just been his experience, but it does make sense to me. I
      think long hours on the bike should be spent upright.

    2. I respectfully disagree that all touring bikes should be made with upright bars. Drop bars provide numerous hand positions, but may be better suited to younger riders. For example, in my early 20's I crossed the US with a drop bar touring bike and didn't have any difficulty. However, nowadays, I can't imagine doing so.

      Europeans have a wonderful outlook on cycling in general. It is far more common to find bicycle commuters using upright and thus flatter bars because of their infrastructure, better site lines sitting upright, etc. And with longer vacations, it's widely acceptable for those same riders to tour throughout Europe on the same bikes. I really like their attitude and outlook on non-racer type of cycling.

    3. I'm fine with your disagreement. I'm not always right, and I don't think anyone is. But as you note, later in life, upright is better. Or maybe you aren't saying that, and I'm just reading into your comment. But as I've said, I'm not always right. :)