Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Of Microwaves and Bicycles

Last week, my microwave oven went to the giant frozen burrito in the sky, so I called a repairman to come out and see if it could be repaired. He took one look at it and said it's not worth fixing and that will be $79.99. It was a top of the line GE Profile and had lasted eleven years.  The repairman told me that normally microwaves do not last that long, but this one had because it was a higher quality, and more importantly, was not made in China.  So what do microwave ovens have to do with bicycles?  A lot. You see, like modern microwave ovens, ninety percent of bicycles produced today are made by the same few companies in China.  Just like LG produces microwaves for Kenmore, Kitchen Aid, etc., so does Giant produce bikes for Trek, Canondale, etc.  That two hundred dollar Schwinn you see in Walmart is made by the same workers at the same factory with the same quality control as that $1,300.00 Trek at your local bike shop.  Last year, several big name "high end" bikes were having problems with the forks breaking, different brands but manufactured by the same Chinese firm. Bear in mind, these are bikes costing thousands of dollars. The bike shops took the bikes back and promised a replacement per the warranty, but things got ugly. You see, the Chinese claimed that there was no defect, but in fact the bicycle owners were the cause of the forks failing.  So the bike shops that exchanged the broken bikes were out, and the consumer that was promised a replacement, well they were out too. 

I asked the repairman as he was leaving, which brand would he recommend, he said it really does not matter because they are all the same, but there was one thing I should look for and avoid. a sticker that says "Made in China." 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heaven from Piedmont, Alabama rides her Gazelle Toer Populair through the back roads of the deep South. A pretty smile on a pretty girl on a pretty bicycle.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Helmet? We don't need no stinkin' Helmet

First off, I am not against wearing a helmet while cycling, but I personally do not wear a helmet and that is just a matter of personal choice based on the type of riding I do, i.e leisurely.  Here in Georgia, the law states that anyone sixteen or younger must wear a helmet while biking which is a good thing.  If you have ever been to Europe, you couldn't count the number of people you see on bikes at any given moment, but you could count the number of cyclists wearing helmets on one hand.  If you look at the statistics concerning biking, safety, and helmets, things get pretty interesting.

When helmet use increases, so do head injuries. What? Yes, in the US nobody wore helmets up until the 80s, in the nineties helmet use skyrocketed and head injuries increased 51%. How? Well of course helmets didn't cause the injuries unless your ticked off girlfriend smashed you on the noggin with one. Less attention to safe riding, a placebo effect, is the main reason.  I remember a discussion we had in an economics course while I was attending the University of Georgia based on the question, "If Georgia passes a mandatory seat belt law (this law was not in effect at the time), will traffic deaths increase or decrease?"  Of course we all argued that deaths would decrease, but our Professor argued that fatalities would increase because drivers would take more unnecessary risks.

Let's look at the statistics for fatality and helmet wearing rate for individual countries.  The United States has the highest number (terms of percentage) of cyclists that wear helmets 38%, The Netherlands the lowest 0.1%.  Hey, we're number one in helmet wearing, but unfortunately also number one in cycling fatalities, again based on percentage of riders. The Netherlands has the lowest.  This trend holds true for every country, the higher the percentage of cyclists that wear helmets, the higher the fatality rate.

A study showed that car drivers are more cautious and give more room to non helmet wearing cyclists than cyclists wearing helmets.  Another study showed that in some instances based on certain helmet design, wind noise generated by some helmets greatly reduced the riders ability to hear oncoming vehicles. 

I am not anti-helmet but I am anti-get hit by a car or a truck.  I practice safe cycling, I obey all the traffic rules, I am constantly aware of what is going, or coming, on around me, I never would even consider listening to my iPod while riding, and I make sure my bike is in good condition.  I ride Dutch Gazelle bikes which have front and rear lights as well as tires with reflective sidewalls. Wear a helmet but be aware that there is no substitute for safe riding.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Atlanta Cycle Chic: Atlanta Cycle Chic

Atlanta Cycle Chic: Atlanta Cycle Chic: "Riding bicycles in style. This site is dedicated to cyclists in and around Atlanta that are too cool to wear spandex, bike shorts, bike shoe..."

Classic Dutch bikes come to the US

Taking a cue from the bicycle capitol of the World, that being The Netherlands, more and more Americans are investing in and riding on what is known as the "commuter" type of bicycle found all over Europe, the Far East, and recently Australia. It seems that more and more Urbanites are riding their bikes to work, the store, etc., and leaving the car in the garage.  There are many reasons for this, gas prices, exercise, won't have to worry about a DUI, and the lack of a carbon footprint.  But underneath it all, it is becoming the Chic thing to do.  It's cool, just see The New York Times in this recent article

So, what makes a classic Dutch bike a classic Dutch bike?  I know the answer to this because I have researched bicycles, manufacturing, and design for the past year, all with the intent of importing and selling these type of bikes in the United States.  The result is, what makes a Dutch bike classic today is the same thing that made them classics over one hundred years ago, indeed not much has changed.  Basic frame design and ergonomics that result in comfort and durability are the standard in which these types of bikes were made in 1890 and are made today. Dutch engineers designing bikes, built by Dutch workers, for people that depend on their bikes for  daily transportation. One way to look at it is what I call the 10/50 concept.  These type of bikes are meant to be ridden about ten miles a day and last for 50 years.  They are not meant to be ridden fast, nor are they suited for a century.  They have chain guards, fenders, luggage racks, skirt guards, front and rear lights, and comfortable saddles, which mean "seats" over here.  They come with pumps, reflective tires, really big tires that are puncture resistant, and a bell like you had on your 1971 Schwinn.  And of course, a kickstand.  All of these features are there because if you have to change clothes to ride your bike, you are not Cycle Chic.

My next post entitled, "Helmet? We don't need no stinkin' Helmet," will follow shortly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Atlanta Cycle Chic

Riding bicycles in style. This site is dedicated to cyclists in and around Atlanta that are too cool to wear spandex, bike shorts, bike shoes, and instead cycle in what they are wearing on their way to work, church, or the pub. The best place to find cycling clothes is your closet.
I will be adding local images and articles soon.