Friday, January 26, 2007

Bike London

I was in London very briefly this week to meet my brother.

London isn’t my favorite city. I’ve always thought I should like it more. I love big cities. And they speak English. And very nicely. But the food sucks. The women are kinda ugly on average. And the weather sucks.

(I flew Air India... sure the plane was a little run down, but the flight was direct and cheap. And the food on Air India was delicious. Maybe not the best Indian food ever. But certainly the best airplane food every! Better, in fact, than anything I ate in London).

Traveling is always a time when one can contemplate their health especially when air travel is part of the deal. Individual health insurance can ease your mind in the air or on your bike.

And it’s so fucking expensive it hurts. My all day transit pass cost over $30 (peak travel time from Heathrow). Cash fair on subway is $7 (though there are cheaper options... but still!)

There was snow when I arrived. Which was actually very beautiful to see given our lack of it here in New York. The papers were telling me how transit was in chaos (the headlines screamed: “One Inch of Snow... AND THEY KNEW IT WAS COMING”), but it didn’t really effect me. Minor delays at worst.

But I was very impressed at how many bikes are going around. And it’s not really a bike friendly city. Lots of bike parking. But bad traffic. Not many bike lanes. And shitty weather. But there were lots of bike. More than in New York. Especially considering it was 32 degrees and wet.

Ah, the edge of the famous congestion zone. Learn, NYC. Learn.

Street parking at more than $3 an hour.

A nice well-used bianchi turned city bike.

There are better ways to make money. Like drug dealing.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Still no charges against the driver...

... but Ivan Morales is alive and for that we're all thankful.

Address Change: New URL

Obviously, being Mr. Astoria Bike went straight to my head. But then since was available... well, why not? It's a better name. It's a shorter name. And better me than some city-phobe I'm-so-smug I-live-in-Pacific-Northwest where we-respect-nature and have-bike-paths bastard in Astoria, Oregon. Always messing up my google searches, they are.

Changes should take in effect in a day or two... magically. Somehow. We'll see.

In theory, all the old links will work just fine... somehow. Magically. We'll see.

Astoria, not New York:

Astoria, New York:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ask Mr. Astoria Bike (1)

From a comment:

I'm trying to decide on a new bike for riding in the city, commuting to work, and getting to farmer's markets. I figure regular rides will be short- 3-5 miles, but there will be a random 10+ miler once in a while. Any ideas?

I'm looking at some touring bikes and I'm really new to this commuter bike idea. My old cheap mountain bike has an okay frame, but I'd rather not ride it for a while. I'm looking at an old Lemond Zurich frame, but I'm not too sure what the best option is for a commuter bike. What do you suggest- a mountain bike frame or a touring/road bike frame?

Also, is there really any point to a fixie? Thanks.

Unless you actually go mountain biking, I’m strongly against mountain bikes. For the life of me I can’t figure out why people think a big bulky knobby-tired is better for riding down the paved road. Would you try to ride a smooth-tired racing bike down a sandy mountain trail? Of course not. So why would you choose to ride a bike designed for a sandy mountain trail on a paved road? It’s like the SUV mentality for bikes. Bigger isn’t better.

I’m also strongly for steel (or “cro-mo”) frames (and carbon fiber forks). They give so much more than aluminum. And last longer, too (I also think they look better, but that’s not really the point). Aluminum gives a very hard bumpy ride. And then they invented suspension to compensate. But you don't really need suspension on a road bike. And I ride over some bumpy-ass roads. Aluminum is cheaper to make (robots can weld them together very easily), but they’re not better to ride. But it’s getting harder and harder to buy a steel frame. But I would definitely seek one out. You can always buy a good used frame on e-bay, the problem, of course, is the sizing. I frame is more than just height measurement.

I don’t know anything about specific frame brands. I love my Bianchi Alfana road bike more than any other bike I’ve ever had (but don’t tell my other bikes). But that’s a matter of frame geometry and my body. Every person is different. All touring/road bikes are lighter, faster, and more fun to ride than a mountain bike. I also don’t like the bar handlebars. They kill my wrists and arms.

I also say don’t be afraid of thin tires. I’ve never had a problem with 23mm tires. And I weight over 200 pounds. Some people say wider is better… but I don’t agree. I’d say at least give a nice steel-framed road bike with thin tires well inflated (at least 100 psi) a test run. The difference should be something you notice right away. Except for body position with drop handlebars, there should be nothing that you “have to get used to.” Maybe you’ll instantly fall in love like I did. You can also get upright handlebars on a road frame.

Of course for commuting you to worry about carrying things. And then you may want to get a bike more designed for that.

And there are advantages to a fixed gear. Also see this. I like my fixed gear. If I only had one bike, it would not be a fixed-gear. But it is fun to ride one out of 4 times and also makes you a better rider. They’re so simple and so efficient. Going up hills is a breeze (that’s the irony about the one speed). Also good for very slow speed maneuvering (like moving around cars at red lights).