In previous posts, I’ve really struggled to articulate why folding bikes – maybe better, people who ride foldies – offend my sensibilities so much. I’m not going to say much this time. I’ll just let everyone enjoy this picture.wafflesandsteel | Filed under: folding bikes | 2 Comments »
The search for a commuter bike continues. Actually, I’m starting over.
I came close to buying a couple rigs from the last list. The LeMond titanium frame nearly had me seduced, and the seller was a cool guy who seems really devoted to cycling. But I just didn’t want to sink all the extra money into it to build up the frame. I just had to blow $1,000 on light fixtures, and I might have a costly plumbing job ahead of me.
I was also close to buying the Gitane touring bike and started fantasizing about loading it up and riding to Quebec next summer. But I’m too worried about the Huret components. I never want to rely on parts made by a defunct European brand. The seller, who is also a cool bike fanatic, said there’s plenty of old Huret spare parts floating around in the cycling world, and I believe him. But still, I’m uneasy about rolling with defunct gear.
So I’m back to monitoring Craigslist again. Here are three possibilities:
1. A classic Dutch bicycle from Gazelle
Pros: This is exactly what I had in mind when I started my search. A simple machine with some Old World flare. The Dutchophile in me has always wanted to own one. It has fenders and a sturdy rack on the back. The price is right at $175. It would look really cool with milk white tires.
Cons: The seller didn’t list the bike’s size, so I’m not sure it will fit me. It looks plenty big, though. The seller also didn’t provide a phone number and isn’t answering my e-mails. It might be sold.
2. A Novara Randnee touring bike
Pros: Now, this is a bike that could get me to Quebec! It has cantilever brakes, so maybe I could sneak it into a ‘cross race. The Shimano components would be easy to fix or replace on the road if disaster strikes.
Cons: The $455 price is a tad high, and the 57 cm frame is a bit small for me. It’s also an entry-level bike and I generally avoid entry-level gear.
3. A Gary Fisher Aquila
Pros: Rugged and reliable. Snow or sleet won’t stop this machine. I’d never have to worry about the weather. Powering up the 3 km climb on my trip home won’t be a problem with the gearing. The $375 price fits the top end of my budget. The frame size seems about right. The simple black color is cool and practical.
Cons: If my friends knew I was riding this, would they all be asking me, “Hey, I thought you said mountain bikes were for wankers unserious people.” I guess I would have to answer: “No, you misheard me. I was talking about FOLDING BIKES!” The ad says, “Could use minor rear derailleur adjustment.” This might mean: “I bent the derailleur hanger and you’ll have to spend $50 replacing it.”
After my last post, I received some great suggestions and advice. Many thanks and please keep them coming.
wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Commuter bikes, folding bikes | 3 Comments »
I’ve been sitting at the keyboard debating whether I’m a bike snob. On the one hand, I think if someone enjoys riding a bike – any kind of bike – that’s great. I’m happy for them. But on the other hand, I don’t really care to be near anyone riding one of those folding bikes, which are becoming outrageously popular in China. Wait, I should clarify something. If someone is commuting on one of those things or running errands or just tooling around like David Byrne does, that’s fine. I appreciate the utility of the machines. But I’m troubled by people – mostly men in their 20s and 30s in China – who ride them for sport (like here). And I don’t like how they try to adopt our roadie attire. They should learn from the fixie crowd and develop their own style.
A few months ago, a couple of foldies (Is that what we call them?) popped out of a side road and started tailing me. One of them stayed just a centimeter off my rear wheel, pedaling those donut wheels at an annoyingly high cadence. They didn’t seem to understand the common etiquette. If you’re going to suck a stranger’s wheel, you should at least introduce yourself, say hello. It was a bit unnerving because I had doubts about their riding skills and was just waiting for a wheel-touch accident. I finally dropped the two dweebs on a series of hills. In my mind, what they were doing was kind of like a guy in a VW Beetle – a cute and clever vehicle – tailing a guy in a Porsche. It’s just something you don’t do. It’s dorky and irritating. It’s like stepping onto a tennis court with a raquetball raquet. That’s OK if it’s your thing, but don’t try to volley with me.
On Sunday, I was riding home on a stretch of road with heavy, chaotic traffic (a Mad Max situation). It’s usually a spot where I just ride to survive. The objective is just to get through it safely. I passed two guys on folding bikes (They always seem to ride in pairs. Hmmmm), and they started racing me. It was a real dilemma for me because I would really hate to see two foldies get the best of me. But then again, I’d really hate to crash my bike and injure myself competing with geeks. It was a classic pride vs. commonsense conflict. One of the guys was riding like an idiot, weaving recklessly between cars and taking other risks. He eventually shot through a hole in the traffic and opened up a hug gap. I was tempted to chase, but I decided to just let them go.
Am I a bike snob? I’m still not sure. I’m certainly a grump. And I have strong opinions. Maybe I’m best described as a cycling segregationist. I’m not sure if that’s worse.wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Bikes in China, cycling in China, folding bikes, Guangzhou cycling | 5 Comments »
Sometimes I’ll be on a long solo ride laboring against a strong headwind. I’ll see someone up ahead in a proper bike kit, and I’ll start thinking, “Ahhh, maybe it’ll be someone who can take turns pulling with me.” But when I get closer, I realize that …aaggghhhhhh…it’s another one of those folding bike dudes!
There’s a big group of them in Guangzhou. I think the folding bike is the second most popular type of rig in the city, after the rusty, grimy dinged-up work bikes ridden by migrants. On some Sundays, many of the folding bike fans get all decked out in Euro team outfits, and they gather in the city’s university district. They mostly seem to pose and prance around with their tricked-out, small-wheeled bikes. Some of them even bring their girlfriends with them to snap photos.
I got a kick out of this guy. He’s a rebel all right.
I guess when I see these guys in their Euro team kits riding those miniature bikes, I kind of feel the same way a Harley rider probably feels when he sees a guy decked out in leather on a moped. Maybe I’m a bike snob.
The cool thing is that many Chinese – well, not that many actually – now have the leisure time and income to indulge themselves with such hobbies. Life isn’t all about posting rip-roaring GDP numbers. It’s about finding time to get out and do something fun and interesting. As more and more Chinese can do this, the country will be a much nicer place to live in.wafflesandsteel | Filed under: China bikes, folding bikes, Guangzhou cycling | No Comments »