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Pedal Power

Looking at some new bikes today. It seems to me that the price of bikes has remained fairly static as the price I paid for my bike quite a few years ago is roughly the same price for a better model now. My old bike is currently being used by a friend on a temporary loan. He uses it much more than I ever did, every time he goes out while I didn’t use it for years. It is finally fulfilling its role in this universe. Despite my lack of use I believe pedal bikes should be in everyones toolkit just in case. The are cheap enough and have many uses.

Looking at the new bikes though. Although I do see the old familiar style of bikes, I see more of the modern types, made with expensive alloys to make it lighter, having some robust suspension with swinging arms, strange tyres and disk brakes. Wow. These models start a little above the basic models.

I’m still looking at having an old style. That with some spares will last me forever. I’ve found in the past that all these add ons are the bits that go wrong and when they do they are difficult or very expensive to replace.

I’m not sure what the advantages are for the new tyres. They look like they are going to get me a few extra mph and little else but expense.

The swinging arm and the suspension I can understand. Many the time when I was a kid I could have done with suspension. They look very good for off-roading as the shocks involved in that can make your eyes water, in several different ways. However, it is another area to break and in a survival situation we could easily be unable to replace many of these parts.

Disk brakes on bikes, well wow!. I bet they stop a million times better than the old rubber blocks even when squeezed as if your life depended on you stopping, which it sometimes did. They look robust enough but yet again a more complicated method and I wonder at the materials in the callipers.

I’m firmly of the belief that the more complicated they make the system the easier it breaks and the more difficult it is to fix. Plus, with all this technology I’m expecting to see an MoT for pedal bikes any time soon.

I’m looking at getting basic bikes for us all, with a spare chain, spare tyres, inner tubes, brake pads, cables they should last forever. If I have any spare money though I would consider some off-roaders as a viable addition to the vehicle list for recce and BOVs.

3 comments to Pedal Power

  • fred

    I also have a bike – it’s one of the best modes of transport today. Not much use in a boggy field or mud track though.

  • Lightspeed

    Hi SD

    I think your instincts on the new technology are spot on.

    For a while I was very much into long didtance touring using the latest super light ultra stron alloy framed bikes with ultra wide range indexed gear systems. Thay are fantastic machines. But all of that high tuning and high precision is at the expense of long term reliability and user reparability.

    I had an awakening to how fragile the new technology is when on a nostalgic whim I purchased a 40 year old touring bike on e-bay (GBP 11.00 for a 531 framed machine that was identical to the one that I rode to school and later university many many years ago, how could I resist it??!!!) That bike was totally original, even down to its tyres. It was not a collector’s piece that had been lovingly restored, it was an old bike taht had been left in a garden shed without any attention whatsoever. With a little oil, and a pump up of the tyres it was still ridable, and everything still worked.

    I still have several bikes, and now and every one of them is steel framed, with tubular steel racks and simple gear systems. My startegy is to go for 26″ high quality 1980s mountain bilkes. 26″ is the most common wheelsize in the world, and so should have greatest availability of spare parts in the long term. 26″ wheel steel framed mountain bikes, can be seen as the two wheeled equivalent to “Trigger’s Broom”…………….everything is replaceable and fixable with simpl tools.

    What happens if you bend a steel bike frame, or have a new wheel that is of the wrong axle length? Simple, you use long wooden leves and bend it back into shape. No only can you not do that with high tech aluminium and titanium alloys, those alloys are somewhat brittle and tend to crack if accident damaged. Steel is also more easily weld repairable thanm the new alloys. As for carbon fibre, its great for racing, but I would not trust it for a long term load carrier.

    A final comment, that old school tourer I purchased for 11quid, is my favourite bike now. Its still going strong and never fails to put a smile on my face whenever I ride it, and that makes travelling long distances easier for me..

    A couple of excellent resources for anyone looking for real long term two wheel transport:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/

    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/thorn-sherpa-frames-dept664_pg1/

  • james jackson

    i think that bikes are very important… probably now more then ever as the fuel prices are a joke. Cars are mostly operated with a computer, and when that fails they will be scrap in the midle of the road! I have been looking at a new bike meyself, and saw that you can get trailers for them that hold 70ld. Im seriously considering it, as it might come in usefull if ever needing to relocate with whatever you could carry. As i live on the north east coast, in an area that floods, i know that in the end it will come down to moving to higher ground. Has anybody got or seen the bike trailers? Would love to hear somebodys view on them…. Im thinking it would end up as my BOV. I saw the trailer thing in argos. The other thing i like about a bike is you can now get torches to fit the bike, so its another way of getting an evtra light without the carrying issue

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