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.

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