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Snow Tire

12Feb14

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Super de Luxe

17Nov12

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This Schwinn and Raleigh were right next to each other on the rack. They’re ostensibly supposed to be city bikes; they’re basically the same variation of the hybrid shape–which I’ve never really understood. It’s a hybrid of mountain and … road? Because these are really just mountain bikes with slightly less terrible bars. The Schwinn even has a rack. And here’s something else they both share:

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The Schwinn’s says DO NOT RIDE AT NIGHT whereas the Raleigh’s is more generous with Night Riding is Dangerous – See Owner’s Manual, where I can only assume it tells you not to ride at night.

The problem here is mall bikes. Both these brands used to make really high quality mass-produced bicycles, bikes that would hold up for decades, bikes that people used. These bikes are junk. I have a colleague who recently bought a Schwinn because of what the brand meant when he was a kid. He isn’t riding it anymore because it refuses to work and hardly did the day he bought it.

So you have big box stores staffed by people who don’t know a thing about bikes selling junk that doesn’t function. In very short order you’re going to end up with a manufacturer so uninterested in actually making bikes that the legal department will put a sticker on your model made for urban transportation telling its user not to do anything of the sort.

Too bad, because night riding is great.


Attention! I will be altering neither my path nor my velocity as:

  • I approach this yellow light
  • I approach this red light
  • I approach this yield sign
  • I approach this stop sign
  • I approach this slowed or stopped car
  • You attempt this crossing when you clearly have the right-of-way

The sound you hear is at best a congratulatory note to you for allowing me to pass unencumbered and at worst a brief harbinger of the pain and bodily harm you are about to experience! If you are so lucky as to survive the impending collision or if you slow me in any way, I will use this honk as all the proof I need to demonstrate the episode is entirely your fault as I scream at you for not getting the fuck out of my way.

Have a great day!


New York’s streets have the best bikes. Let’s look.

Schwinn Collegiate

Schwinn Suburban

Schwinn Sprite

Like any big American city, the streets are full of Schwinns. If it isn’t a Varsity converted to single speed hipster everything, it’s a Collegiate, a Suburban or a Sprite. Still the best colors to this day.

Sea Trails Huffy 3

Fantastic graphics on this Huffy.

Peugeot

And this Peugeot…

Peugeot

… and this Peugeot.

Rollfast Tandem

A Rollfast tandem! Not left for dead with that kind of chain. Look closely for the sliver Raleigh Chopper wedged behind it.

Raleigh Chopper

Another Raleigh Chopper, with stick shift and chaise lounge saddle.

Surly Big Dummy

A Big Dummy by a children’s museum.

Banana seat add-on

Somebody sells and installs this banana seat mod because I’ve seen it before.

Not enough rack

Not enough rack.

Not enough rack

Still not enough rack.

Cinzia

This Italian Cinzia folder is a brilliant little thing. Someone relies on this bike because it’s hitched to the rack with two Abus chains. Look at that front basket, it’s as wide as half the bike is long.

Cinzia folding bike

Cinzia child seat

Love this seat—handlebars, foot guards, plenty of drainage.

Cinzia folding bike

Street parking

The perils of on-street parking.

Bars up

I see variations on this everywhere—people want their bars up and they want to sit upright but they don’t know that’s what they want because that kind of bicycle really isn’t widely available here. The best they can ever try is a hybrid, which is a position that purports to give the rider the best of two styles and succeeds in delivering neither.

Antlers

Bars up, antlers down.

Electric Delivery Bikes

A positive development in take-out delivery: electric bikes. These seem very quickly to have replaced a lot of the two-cycle scooters most restaurants were previously using.

Workcycles Fr8

I took a Fr8 for a test ride from Adeline Adeline and 1. all this time I thought they were in Soho but they’re down in Tribeca 2. an electrical fire broke out in a manhole while we were there, filling the block with acrid black smoke, 3. are they the only ones on the East Coast importing Workcycles now? and 4. I am purposefully not talking about the bike because I will only want it more (it would replace my Raleigh but my Raleigh will never die—I’ve been through two head-on collisions with it so far).

New Brooks Saddle

Here’s a brand new Brooks.

Slightly Older Brooks Saddle

And a slightly older Brooks (the stippling isn’t part of the wear).

And a Brooks just settling into middle age. This saddle is part of the Dutchiest bike I saw…

Super Dutch

Kids Seat

Terrible Infrastructure

No street bikes in the city post would be complete without a few examples of terrible infrastructure. How about this one on 2nd Avenue in which the left-turning traffic is guided toward collision with the bicycle traffic just at the vanishing point? The irony.

45 degree turn of doom

Ever executed a 45-degree turn on a bike? Me neither. Bonus points for the pedestrian ignoring the huge, empty crosswalk.

Actual infrastructure!

What’s this? Groningen? Amsterdam? No! Brooklyn! I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have ever, ever seen parallel  separated cycling and pedestrian paths outside of Holland. No mixed use! And blocks from where we used to live (and a stretch of Columbia you would be mad to ride on the street because it’s bookended by expressway on/off ramps.) It only lasts a few hundred feet, but it’s a thing of beauty.

Still pretty good infrastructure

A bit further down, past the expressway ramps the street narrows and what were the pedestrian lanes become the cycling lanes with a bit of sidewalk between them and the street. Still pretty good!

Tiny storefront

Let’s take a break from bikes to look at a tiny, tiny storefront.

Bridgestone 450

A Bridgestone 450 in the dark.

Babboe Chinese Knock-Off Bakfiets

A Chinese knock-off bakfiets in the dark.

Doppleganger

Doppleganger

And two Raleigh cousins from the extended brown Sports/Superbe/Sprinter family. Even though I got my Raleigh in Philly, it spent most of its time with me on the streets of New York.

 


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