Wednesday, December 06, 2006

So sad

Another biker killed by a vehicle on a bike path. Not a bike lane mind you. But a bike path. You know, where cars aren't supposed to be.

The New York Times link

http://bikeblog.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hiring for adventure travel greece

This is from a friend of mine:

From: Colleen McGuire [mailto:cmcguire@cyclegreece.gr]
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2006 11:08 AM
Subject: hiring for adventure travel greece

...I am looking for a personal assistant to help me with CycleGreece www.cyclegreece.gr and a new company we are building for active and soft adventure in Greece.

Perhaps you know someone who is interested, or have friends who might know.

We’re looking for someone who is eager and excited about helping to start an adventure travel company in Greece, someone who is young so that this would be a career choice they would commit to and stick with. This person should be familiar with internet and have computer skills. A plus is if they are athletically inclined.

Ideally, the person knows Greek, so Greek American would be a big plus. Our offices are located on East 57th Street. It is a full time job that involves designing tours in Greece, marketing tours to a US market, speaking before special interest groups like bike clubs, hiking clubs, art groups, etc., representing the company at expos and other tasks that basically entail making the company successful !!

Please send this out on your email network. Thanks!

Colleen
cmcguire@cyclegreece.gr
917-385-4898


U.S. Office
411 East 57th Street
New York, NY 10022
800-867-1753


Greece Office
15 Falirou Street
Athens 11742 Greece
+30-210-921-8160

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bicycle Repair Man

I was buying a bike tire at my favorite Astoria/Long Island City Bike Store (Bicycle Repair Man, 40-11 35th Ave, tel: 718 706-0450. Open 10 - 7, closes around 2 on Sunday). And was eyeing the Continentals 3000. They're expensive ($45-$50), but I've had good luck with them. He only had yellow. I didn't want yellow because they make the bike look fancier and more attractive to thieves and vandals. I told him I wanted all black. He said he could order it for me, but then proceeded to downsell me on a $25 Michelin tire. I think it's a classy business man who successfully downsells a customer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In the ghetto...

One thing this blog isn’t about is where or how far I biked on my latest ride. I don’t care about your ride. I don’t expect you to care about mine.

But Saturday night a friend was over with a bike I gave him (see oh those sexy french ladies' frames below. I wasn’t going to do shit with that bike, so I gave it to him. He’s French, too. How appropriate.) He arrived in New York about two weeks ago and moved to East New York one stop from the end of the 3 Train. Only a man who doesn’t know New York would do that. But good for him, I say.

I’ve never been to East New York, Brooklyn. It’s perhaps the most dangerous part of New York. I like bad neighborhoods. I don’t want to live in one. But the city lover and sociologist in me is always drawn to them. Rich neighborhoods are kind of the same everywhere. If you want to know a city, go to the “bad” part. And no better way to do that than by bike.

So at 2 a.m. I decide to bike back with him. I actually love the idea of a tipsy 2 a.m. ride to the ’hood via a route I’ve never been. Really. I used to take a lot of late night rides in Boston. I miss them. And I love being places I’ve never been. So with a handy NYC bike map we set off and made it there in more-or-less a straight line. Not perfectly straight. But good enough. Through a dark park. Past a national cemetery. And over hills, which I don’t associate with NYC.

It took an-hour-and-a-half there and 45 minutes coming back. 10 miles each way. I biked a bit faster coming home and it’s always easier to find home. Basically Miller St to Jamaica Ave to Cypress Hills St. to Fresh Pond Road to 58th St. to Broadway. The roads are well paved and traffic was light.

So I’ve never been to East New York and no white person I know ever has (present French company excluded). You say ghetto and I think East Baltimore. But ain’t nothing as bad as East Baltimore. I have to say, I didn’t see East New York during the day time, and maybe there’s nowhere to buy fresh vegetables, but the block he lived on (Miller St just north of Livonia) looked as good as Astoria. No vacant buildings. Houses kept up. In some ways I’d prefer to live there than the “nicer” neighborhoods in Queens I biked through to get there. At least subways—a few of them—go through East New York.

If that’s the worst New York has to offer, we’re doing OK.

Two nights later (tonight) I got two flats biking to Coble Hill, Brooklyn. I can only handle one flat. A second leaves me walking. I’m happy it didn’t happen in East New York. One flat in Williamsburg and another in Fort Green. I had to take the G to get where I was going. Only on the train did I notice my $45 rear tire was kind of blown out. I’ve had it two years and obviously should have replaced it earlier. On the plus side, for the return trip, I discovered my bike can fit in the trunk of a cab. Never has $28 and 15 minutes been so well spent.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sheldon Brown is hurting

I just learned that Sheldon Brown has a bad-case muscular disease. Perhaps a particularly bad kind of M.S. (and even the good cases aren't great).

At some point, he's inspired a whole lot of people on bikes. And anybody who has ever put wrench to bike has looked at his web site, the first source for bike information.

You can read his updates on his health blog.

I feel for him. Having been to hell and back with my wife's emergency heart surgery earlier this year, I know how hard and frustrating it can be to even figure out what's wrong with you. Good luck, Sheldon!

From the very first post on this blog:
Harris Cycles, outside of Boston, sells them and almost everything. They’re perhaps the best bike store in America. Not the least of all because Sheldon Brown works there. He’s undoubtedly the most famous person in the world when it comes to strange, technically, and downright nerdy bike issues.

Don’t believe me? Just type in “‘Sheldon Brown’ bike” into google and you’ll get 22,800 results. By comparison, “Mayor of Boston” gets only 20,500; my name turns out 353 (and they’re not all for me). Sheldon Brown is a true professional (as Ali from Kebab CafĂ© defined professional): “somebody who does what he loves and makes enough doing it to support himself.” Sheldon’s website is a treasure trove of everything you could possibly want to know about bicycles.

If you have any questions about the bike terms used here, check out Sheldon Brown’s bike glossary.


November 2006 update: Sheldon still has Mumbles Menino beat: 111,000 to 93,000. I’m still a distant third with 967 hits.

New Yorker bike piece

There’s an article in the current New Yorker about bike culture in New York City. I was afraid to read it for a few days because I just knew it would piss me off. I read it. I didn’t piss me off in an angry way. It just pissed me off because it’s a pretty lame article. Especially by New Yorker standards. It was just obviously very lazily written. (see Bike Blog more comments)

Didn’t really capture the gestalt at all. And it featured an anti-noise anti-bike crazy man far too much. What was his deal? I really didn’t get it. Nor did I care.

The New Yorker piece mentioned the various biker tribe in New York (I wonder where I fall on that typology?). But it omitted the most commonly seen biker in New York: the delivery men bringing you bike haters dinner. I guess the illegal immigrants just don’t count. Except when they bike on the sidewalk. A shame. Because they’re the ones most in danger, forced to bike against traffic on Manhattan’s Avenues, and too poor to afford lights, helmets, bells, and all the other accoutrements of T.A.-like yuppie-bike-dom.

And this lame piece got too caught up in the spectacle-side of Critical Mass and ignores the greater lack of will to help bikers. Like “no room for bike lanes” on roads 12-lanes wide not counting the cars illegally parked. 250 feet of pavement exist at the entrance the Queensboro bridge. Really. And yet bikes have to ride against traffic because they can’t find 4 feet for a bike lane (that 4 inches per traffic lane). Lack of will, plain and simple.

On why bikers don't obey the law, part II: “I had the walk sign.”

The New Yorker piece on bikes has this crazy guy in the article who was all into the importance of everybody obeying the law—especially bikes. Even though this freak had no problem littering his cigarette butts while ranting about other people (say in German accent:) not following the rules!

[I have to give some props to the pussies at Transportation Alternatives for refusing to say that bikes should stop at red lights. They said that bikes should yield to pedestrians. They’re right. Everybody should yield to pedestrian, except, of course, when they’re in the bike path.]

A few weeks ago I was biking home in the rain from the West Side and came across a young woman lying in the crosswalk at 59th and 5th. She had just been hit by a car. She was pretty upset in the adrenalin-fuelled kind of way. She kept saying, “I can’t believe this happened to me. I had the walk sign!”

I’m sure she did. She was in the right. She was foolish enough to think that if you play the rules, you’ll be fine. And then she got hit. Pretty hard. She was going to live. But she wasn’t going to walk away. Her leg was sticking out all funny. Right does not equal safe. Bicyclists often have to violate traffic laws to be safe (getting in front of the crosswalk at red lights immediately comes to mind). The problem is not bikes and pedestrians disobeying the law. The problem is cars. That’s why we have traffic laws: for cars. Because they can kill you. Even when you're in the right.

Anyway, there wasn’t much I could do for this girl. Having been a police officer (in Baltimore... really), I moved traffic along so the fire truck could pull up. Once she was in better hands, I bolted, happy to have 59th St. blocked-off and traffic-free!

Meanwhile yesterday another fucking SUV plowed into some more pedestrians on a sidewalk. Last week the same thing happened and hit a family, killing a kid. Ripped them right out of his shoes. That’s what happens when you get hit hard enough by a car. Can you imagine how hard you would have to be hit to separate you from your shoes?

And this hot off the presses from today’s Times: “A man was killed by a speeding car late Thursday while bicycling … in Queens…. The bicyclist … was on Linden Boulevard … in St. Albans when a speeding westbound Dodge Stratus struck him…. After hitting Mr. Simpson, the car crashed into a telephone pole…. The car’s occupants, two young men ages 15 and 22, were in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital and Medical Center, the police said, adding that neither would admit to driving the car. No arrests were made.”

What’s the impact all this reckless and irresponsible driving will have on driving and public safety in New York? Now imagine if a bike was in the wrong and killed three people? Hell, even if the bike was in the right. And not that bike could kill three people, but just imagine…

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Great bike carries

I'm always been impressed by what bikes can carry. Someone just sent me these pictures.
















Sunday, November 05, 2006

Yucatan taxis

I was down in the Yucatan, Mexico, and discovered that tricycles were the most common form of taxi and transport in villiages and small towns. The sad part is they'll probably eventually all get replaced with loud motorized vehicles as they get more money.

There was even the occasional bike path next to some major roads out of town.


Monday, October 23, 2006

I miss biking in Amsterdam

Great photo blog journalism of bikes and one intersection in Amsterdam at http://www.awfulgood.com/doa-archives/000185.php.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just call me Mr. Astoria Bike

If you Google "Astoria Bike," a link to my blog comes up first. Cool. Since there's no "Mr. Subway," and my friend Tamara already has dibs on "Ms. 30th Avenue," I'll gladly settle for "Mr. Astoria Bike." I can't wait till posters go up with my picture and are defaced with devil horns, blacked-out teeth, and cocks in my mouth!

Oh, those sexy French ladies' frames

I bought a bike on Ebay. I'm really not sure why. I wasn't even drunk.

Well, I do know why I bought it. I really like French frames. And French Bikes. They're really good sporty practical urban bikes. The problem is that it's a French Bike. ALL the sizes are different. Updating/conversion will not be easy. Maybe the bottom bracket casing can be drilled out to the Italian size for a new bottom bracket. Maybe the handlebars can be replaced with uprights. Maybe the damn thing will sit in my basement forever. She sure is a nice frame.

My old girlfriend had a French bike she loved. Peugeot frame. Light. But it was broken. And I couldn’t fix it because it was French. I convinced her to give it up for a Raleigh 3-speed. It was heavy. And a pain to work on. But I least I could fix it. I don’t think she was ever happy with the trade.

[Update: I didn't do shit to this bike. So a gave it to a French friend who happened to have moved to town and wanted to bike. I told him to buy some new tires and go wild.One night, probably with no lights and no helmet, he got hit by a car on Northern Blvd and 31st St. He was knocked out and almost killed. Luckily, he lived. And except for some major dental surgery, he made a complete recovery. And hell, it ain't like French teeth are all that great to begin with. The bike was never seen again. I forgave him, but he does owe me a bike.]

Hot Karl update

The last bike I assembled for a friend is the Hot Karl. It was a SRAM shifter and it just isn't very good. Shifting problems keep re-happening and the foot hits the guard. The former is exactly the kind of pain-in-the-ass I don't want to deal with. The latter is a basic design flaw that can't be fixed.

I bought the bullet and ordered yet another Shimano Nexus hub. Strange that Sheldon Brown's place seems to have a lock on their sales. I tried to buy one online through Ebay, but the place that was selling the older (heavier) model doesn't have any in stock. Anyway, when the hub comes I think I'll just take it to my bike man and pay him to swap the hubs/build the new wheel. I don't really want to bother. But I do feel I owe my friend a good bike.

[November 10th Update: the Hot Karl is back in business and she's never been hotter.]

Folding bikes

My mother writes:
What is a good folding bike for me? I am interested in a bike that is light-weight and can be easily folded. It does not need to be too compact. I want to put in in the car, drive somewhere and explore the neighborhood. A few gears would be nice, but I do not want a derailleur as I do not want to bother with the chain coming off. Don't need it custom-made. Would like to try it out first.

Are you familiar with Strida? How easy is it to get on and off?

Love, mama


Here's a list of folding bikes brades see:

I have tried a Strida.
I personally didn't like it. It doesn't have the feel of a real bike to me. The rubber belt (instead of chain) makes it feel (and sound) like something you should ride around an airport terminal. Call me old fashioned, but bikes are supposed to have chains. And if the Strida were to break, who could fix it? The Swift Folder is a normal, real bicycle.

All I can recommend is the Swift Folder, the one I have. $920.


No derailleur. You should ask for a chain guard though (for pants leg) as mine doesn't have one and I wish it did. I wouldn't be afraid of the "Custom" part. It's not like they're cutting the metal just for you. They simply assemble it from parts based on what you want: Coaster versus hand brake, number of gears. And they (really a he) were very nice to deal with.

Dahon is the biggest maker of folding bikes. Seems to run about $600. But I don't know anything about them. They have derailleurs and gears. Brompton looks very good. but I have no personal experience with one. You can easily get fenders and 3 speed. About $1,000.

The one thing I would demand if I were you is that your bike have a Shimano Nexus hub. They're not cheap (about $250--hence the price difference between many of the bikes). But they're internal shifting (no derailleur) and never break. They're like your old Raleigh three-speed, but better. The Shimano Nexus is really the only reliable internal shifting hub out there. And they keep getting better. They come is various different speeds. But their latest, an 8 speed (model number SG-8R25) is probably the best. The hand brake with the rear hub is a drum brake (not calipers squeezing the rim) and therefore very easy to pull. I think would be good for your arthritic hands. A coaster brake is also a possibility for some of them. But these issues are all the more reason to buy a Swift Folder because you can talk about them rather than take the least-worst option a bike store has to offer.

All folding bikes should be easy to get on and off because the cross bars are very low.


Sent: Monday, October 16, 2006 1:13 PM
Subject: RE: folding bikes

I don't think that the Swiftfolder is for me as I do not want a high bar. I rather want a low instep. I may go to the bike store near here that carries Dahon bikes and ride one and also see which one can be folded up easily.

More about this later.


I don't think you'll have a problem getting on any folding bike. The cross bars are always very low. And the rear wheel is always very small. But you can ride one and try it out.

Maybe Dahon this is perfect for you. About $600. Comes with all the needed accessories (rack, fenders, chain gard.
Super low cross bar. Front wheel dynamo for light if you ever need it.

You can get it with the same shiftig mechansism as your old Raleigh 3-speed. But it is 5 speed. With coaster break. Sturmey-Archer is the brand name. The other brand that comes with the bike is SRAM. Supposed to be good. But I've had a bad experience with one of their shifters.

Was voted "Bike of the Year" in Amsterdam for whatever that is worth.

Maybe things are better in LA. But I think you will have a tough time finding a store with a good selection of folding bikes. It is better to order what you want than settle for what they have.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Biking the beautiful Triborough Bridge

Check out the lastest on the bike ride on the Triborough, from Randall's Island into Harlem. Normally the blog is about food. I'm glad she didn't eat anything on they way.

I've had some issues on the bridge myself. But I can't really blame the bridge. It keeps it real.

On why bikers don't obey the law, part I: the Queensboro Bridge

It always pisses me off when people complain about bikes running red lights and not obeying traffic laws. Traffic laws are there for cars. Cars kill people. Not bikes. We wouldn’t need red lights if it weren’t for cars.

Running a red light on a bike is akin to jaywalking: nominally illegal but something we should all do because it’s smart, right, and prevents a fascist obedience to authority from developing. (But I also firmly believe that bikes should not ride quickly on sidewalks and always respect pedestrians in crosswalks if they have the walk sign).

Anyway, leaving aside my moral argument, bikes also don’t obey the law because we can’t. Sometimes obeying the law is dangerous. Sometimes it’s just plain bizarre. Let’s say I’m going from my place to Central Park (4 miles away) and back.

First you get to the Queensboro Bridge Bike Path. A nice green line on the bike map representing the best New York City has to offer bikes: a dedicated bike lane separated from traffic. Great. And it is pretty good. But not if you follow the law because you couldn’t bike on the damn thing. And once you get used to ignoring the no-bike signs on bike paths, well, you start to take all rules and regulations with a grain of salt.

The entrance is a bit of a traffic mess, but not too bad. There’s actually a sign indicating you’ve found the bike/pedestrian path. It might be nice for tourists to say, “To Manhattan” or something. But I’ll let it slide.



The first signs of trouble is the bridge closed at night sign.
I can’t figure out if these closing are over. I think they are, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I try to get back before 10PM because the bus shuttle is impressive to have, but still sucks.

And notice the first of the “dismount” signs. On the bike path. Look, bicyclists simply aren’t going to dismount. It goes against everything bikes are. And asking bikes to dismount just makes biking wrong. Besides, the bridge is a-mile-and-a-half long. I ain’t walking, damnit. Why not ask something reasonable, like slow down? I’ll slow down to be considerate to workers.

On the Manhattan side another sign saying bikes must dismount and walk bikes. Uh, why? Of course, nobody does.


The damn closed gate. This gate makes bike (and pedestrians) go a block out of the way to get on and off the path when this is the ideal exit. It’s something to do with traffic flow from the bridge, but the traffic just hits a light either way it goes. Something could clearly be worked out here. And when the gate was open for weeks, traffic flowed just fine.


Then you get more generic warning signs (that could be avoided if the gate was open).


Woh! Truck crossing?! Looks serious, but it’s not.


Finally you get to Central Park (S.E. corner) and your welcomed with a sign saying “do not enter,” “authorized vehicles ONLY,” and “entrance closed.” But this in the entrance you’re supposed to enter. You see, all this refers to cars, not the people and bikes that actually use the entrance. How about a sign saying “Welcome to Central Park. Come on in. Open! (closed to vehicle traffic).” Just an idea.


So you bike around the park, next to cars, and return to Queens. Here’s the Manhattan side of the bridge bike path. Does this look like a welcome path?

The sidewalk isn’t closed. It’s open. And it goes to Queens! It’s like they’re trying to keep it a secret. And because the gate above is closed, the path starts in the middle of a crosswalk, just begging for bike/pedestrian problems and red-light green-light confusion (because coming off the bridge bikes have to go North, but there’s traffic coming from behind, and oh well, trust me).

Going down into Long Island City, you hit the Walk Bike signs again. This one is pleasantly covered with graffiti.

Dismount 100ft ahead! Blocked by construction. But then we’re already supposed to be dismounted for construction.


More reminders, just in case you were thinking of biking. Again, one word: why? It’s a friggin’ bike path!


And another:


And finally, a double whammy of stop and dismount signs. And then the gate blocks off an unused lane that could be a bike path. Instead we all bike the wrong way down a one-way street. The space is there for a bike lane. The lane is even there. And yet, they make us criminal.


So what’s my point? Not that you shouldn’t bike in the city. I love biking in the city. But it is frustrating (but then so is driving. So is the subway. Biking is better). It would take so little for things to be so much better.

On this “Class One” bike path, there is a sign saying “closed” and then at least nine signs telling you not to bike on the bike path. And this is a major bridge we’re talking about. Everybody from Queens has to cross it to get into Manhattan (well, you could go over the Triborough, but check out this latest report of the crack addicts on that bike path). Making the bridge bike friendly—and what you do before and after the bridge—would be the easiest way to make biking more friendly.

[see all posts about why bikes shouldn't obey the law]

Bike to Train

I got a call from some pollster asking me about my latest Amtrak travel. Sure, I’d love to talk about my train travel. It was horrible designed, by the way. And asked me about 30 slight variations regarding price and time and whether I would chose faster Acela or slower regular train. I can’t believe anybody else would agree to sit answer all those stupid questions. Quantitative Methodology gone haywire. Anyway...

He asked my how I got to Penn Station. I was given about 10 choices.

I said, “I rode my bike.” There was a long pause.

I said, “I bet you don’t get that often.”

He said, “I’ve never gotten that.”

I said, “I bet there’s not even a place to put that on your form.”

He said there wasn’t.

I said, “maybe if there was a place to put that on your form, they would know that somebody bikes and they might think about how to accommodate bike commuters.” But for Amtrak, bikes don’t exist. Even though there is decent outdoor bike locking around Penn Station.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lock your bike well

I always think it's funny when car owners act amazed when I tell them I lock my bike without fear on the street. These are the same people who park a $20,000 car on the street.

Knock on wood... I've never had a bike stolen. Some pain-in-the-ass petty theft, but nothing too bad. Right now we've got two locked outside on the sidewalk. I did have a Cannondale bike burglarized from my basement in Cambridge many years ago. But turned out to be not such a bad thing. I bought my current bianchi with the insurance money (amazingly, I *got* an insurance check for it) and I've never looked bike.

Most bikes get stolen because they're poorly locked. I try never to lock my bike to sign posts because of sights like this:

It's a picture I took last year, but the sign post just blew over from the wind. They're not to hard to bust if you try. Alas, the city is getting ridding of parking meters and nobody seems to notice or care that bikers are losing the ability to lock their bikes securely on the street.

Blessed be the bike stands

Since I started doing my own bike repairs back around 1996, I've always wanted a bike stand. But I've never had the money or space for a real one. I had been using this little thing that was basically a workhorse. You took off the front wheel and locked in the quick release and rested the bottom brack on the workhorse. Better than nothing. But fragile. And you couldn't really work on the front wheel or bottom bracket.

Then the past years or two I've had the money but nothing close to the space.

But we moved last month. Into bigger and better digs. With basement. I shelled out around $250 and bought me a nice heavy Park bike stand. Never has a simple consumer purchase made me so happy.

It's so much easier to work on a bike on a stand. And it's the first real clamp I've ever had. So not only does it hold bikes, but I can do little things clamp handlebars and saw them. I could never do that before. Oh the potential...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Happy handle bars for a fixed gear

After 7 years and many (4?) attempts, I finally found comfortable handlebars for the Screamin' Salmon, my fixed gear.

It finally involved:

1) buying handlebars in Amsterdam
2) sawing off the end of those handlebars
and 3) buying a new extended high handlebar stem with minimum reach




The handlebars are right at seat height. Maybe an inch higher. This allows upright posture. As I wrote once before, unless you're sprinting, fixed gears mean you can't really rest your weight on your feet (because you can't rest your feet). As a result, there's a lot more weight on your ass and hands. On drop handlebars, weight is more evenly divided between feet, seat, and hands. Take feet out of that equation, and well, it just doesn't work. Hands aren't designed to take that weight.

And yet I see people with fixed gears all hunched over drop handlebars. I don't get it. Seems like torture to me. And I like drop handlebars.

The angle on my handbrake isn't quite right. I want the whole thing lower, but rotated that way, the brake handle shoots out a funny angle. I'll have to play with that a bit.

My earlier posts on handlebar heights and fixed gear bikes:
http://bluebirdbike.blogspot.com/2005/06/handlebar-height.html
http://bluebirdbike.blogspot.com/2005/06/ handlebar-height-and-fixed-gear.html

Talk about a niche market

The SST 26T micro drive chain retention system ... was developed to provide high strength impact capability for demanding street riders who frequently and intentionally smash into immovable objects.

http://www.e13components.com/product_sst.html

Monday, August 21, 2006

Problems with the Hot Karl

There are problems with the shifting in the Hot Karl. I should have bought a Shimano hub. I'm not quite certain what the problems are (beyond slipping), but I have no real desire to figure it out. It's not my bike. But maybe Karl will buy a Shimano Nexus and I'll build him a new trouble-free wheel.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bikes in Europe

The French have great city bikes. Not too many of them here. They use lot’s of uniquely (well, not for them) sized parts and are a bitch to work on here in the U.S. A shame. Here’s a typically beautiful mixte.


I’ve never seen a three speed with a derailleur. It’s great, because three speeds is really all you need.


Lyon has a great system of free bikes. You need a credit card to put a 150 euro deposit on. Then it’s free for the first 30 minutes and then something like 50 cents for each half hour after that. Stands are everywhere. And amazingly, I’d say about half the bikes on the road are these bike. So I guess the system works. Alas, we couldn’t use them, to our great disappointment, because the system won’t accept American credit cards.


The bikes are well designed for “free” use. It’s uses a nexus hub for gearing, breaks, and dynamo (the lights are always on). There are no cables to be easily vandalized. And the seat can’t be removed, but can be easily raised and lowered.


The hub.


The directions.


The fixer.


Here’s an old exercise bike at our hotel. Amazingly, despite the fact it was there just for decore and not maintained, it worked really well.


The tension adjuster.


Here’s the free wheel that gives resistance and a smooth cycling motion. This bike gave a much more realistic feeling of peddling than any other exercise bike I've been on.


The seat.


A nifty handlebar raiser in Amsterdam.