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Bike Shaped Objects

Bike Sign Silliness

A new low in the land of bike sign silliness.

bike sign sillinessThe people of Palos Verdes Estates have achieved a new level of silliness, if not outright stupidity. Their example is just the latest in the parade of arguments over the trappings of bicycle safety.

Bike lanes are described as eyesores, yet the markings for car lanes are not. Signs that every cyclist understands without explanation are confusing alien markings to motorists. These symbols of cycling are seen by motorists as an invasion of the territory they like to pretend they own.

What ticks me off about this case is that is about the seemingly uncontroversial signs stating that “Bicycles may use full lane.” No, they aren’t changing the law to allow bikes to use the full lane, that’s already the law. The purpose of the signs are to inform motorists of the bike’s rights. How can there be an argument?

Well it’s the usual, “bikes don’t follow the rules anyway.” So since some cyclists break the rules it’s OK to bully all cyclists with your two tons of steel.

The mayor had another argument. “This problem has been going on for years, so I don’t think that it is something that we want to hurry with a very quick solution.” This attitude always baffles me. Since this won’t solve all possible bike safety problems, we shouldn’t do it. That’s idiotic.

The next argument is no better. Since the surrounding towns don’t have such signs it would “undermine consistency.” Because it would be horrible if one town was safer than its neighbors.

All of this might not seem so silly if they were talking about changing a law, but they are not. They are talking about posting signs to explain the law to people who are ignorant of that law. How is this not a slam dunk?

See the full article at:

Broke Down Bike on eBay

This broke down bike may be one of a kind.

broke down bikeThe seller claims to have been unable to find another like this broke down bike. I wouldn’t bet against it. While it’s obviously a frankenbike, my impression is of something I wish the bike companies really had made.

The frame looks quite similar to a Sears folding bike that my family used to own. The break-down frame was a simpler, and lighter, alternative to the folding bike.

The seat color wonderfully compliments the frame color but those handlebars do not go with that seat. Folding bikes, and I’m assuming break-down bikes, have rather straight bars to make storage easier.

The white-wall tires go wonderfully with the stripes on the seat, though the yellowing of age has made them closer to the handlebar grips.

The only thing that looks out of place is the length of the frame. Most kids would have to sit on the front tip of the seat to reach the bars. This may indicate that the bike was built with an adult in mind. Perhaps the very adult who built it.

The seller assumes that the bike is a Schwinn because of markings on the pedals. The pedals and cranks may be the only Schwinn parts but you’ve got to start somewhere. I wish I had the spare time to research the source of that frame.

I love bikes that have a story waiting to be uncovered. A collection of parts coming together to form a perfect mechanical moment. A gestalt of imagination, bicycle flotsam and some simple tools. The zen of recycling and renewal.

I wonder if there’s such a thing as bicycle archeology? Maybe that’s what I can do with my retirement. If I ever get a job to retire from.

Look at this on eBay

The unreviewable bike review

The sadness of the unreviewable bike.

unreviewable bikeOne of my goals for this site is to review cheap bikes so that when people go to big box stores they won’t be totally clueless. Long time readers may have noticed that I haven’t reviewed a bike in quite some time. Turns out that many cheap bikes are unreviewable.

It has been several months since I’ve come across a bike at a big box store that I would recommend anyone ride. Many of them made me want to go to the local TV consumer reporter to warn people not to buy these bikes.

One big problem, especially on disc brake bikes, are the tiny brake levers. Apparently the idea is that disc brakes need less effort so you only need a couple fingers rather than your whole hand. This might be true on a precision machine but not on these bikes.

The shifters use way too much plastic and the metal they use is easier to bend than it is to pull the brake lever. The seats are uncomfortable and in several cases just a hunk of plastic stapled, yes stapled, to thin metal rails.

Of course it’s not always the manufacturer’s fault. The quality of the assembly has taken a major dive lately. Disc brakes are perhaps the biggest offenders. I don’t know why the concept of putting the disc between the calipers and not up against them is so difficult to grasp.

All is not lost though. There are several new cheap bike models that should be appearing in the stores before Christmas. Also, some of the better cheap brands are showing up in discount sporting good stores. I’ll be checking those out shortly.


Sears made a pretty bike

Shiny Sears bikeSears wasn’t always the lowest common denominator.

Sears is the first of the big box stores but apparently that hasn’t always meant crappy bikes. This silver beauty by and/or for Sears and has a pile of wonderful features.

The first thing I noticed was the reflector built into the chain ring. It’s so space-aged nostalgia. Following that feel is the gloriously streamlined chain guard, speed holes included.

Then there’s the beautiful arcing frame tubes. I’m sure that’s not the cheapest way to build a frame. The time alone needed to weld them into place would jack the cost way up.

Another style-first feature is the rear rack. Rather than having a hunk of formed steel bolted on the back, the rack follows the frame theme of thin tubes with the substance of the rack hung between them. And those tubes are no just-functional jobs either. They form a wonderful wire frame homage to the car fins of the 50’s.

This is the kind of bike that I immediately want but in reality would never buy. I am just not the polished chrome kind of bike owner. This is a slow ride king kind of bike. To be ridden with attitude and pride showing off before throngs of admirers. This attention comes at a price.

Like a long-haired dog or a young trophy spouse this thing will require lots of upkeep. Prepare for hours of polishing and fretting over every water, dust and rust spot. If you don’t wash and dry it after every ride it will quickly fade from silver to grey.

If you are a fan of old bikes do yourself a favor and look at the several pictures in the eBay listing. Like a trip to a virtual museum.

Look at this on eBay

Green Line Update

green line updateIn a green line update; Worcester MA does indeed have bike lanes.

I’m back from visiting my family in Worcester with a green line update and I’m happy to report that the bike lane situation isn’t as bad as my last post and Google Maps indicated.

There are in fact many brand new bike lanes in Worcester. Their newness being the probable reason why they don’t show up online yet. I also saw several sharrow streets and many bikes can use full lane signs.

What I did not see however were bikes in these bike lanes. Again, that may be due to newness or perhaps that I was mostly out and about at night. Instead I saw bicyclists riding un-helmeted and unlit on sidewalks. None of the other pedestrians seemed to think this was odd so I assume it is the norm.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. So while Worcester may not yet be a bike-friendly city, at least it’s out of the stone age. (Or perhaps the motor age would be more appropriate.)


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