October 16th, 2011


Bicycle designers have set their minds on speed, off-road handling, folding, utility, style, integration (of lights, locking) and perhaps a few other things that don't come to mind at the moment. What about cleaning? Whatever weight penalty I had to pay, to be rid of half the rear triangle, and half the fork, of a bike I did not want to go fast on, would be doubly rewarded by the ease of cleaning afforded, oh, and let's not forget, the ease of changing a tire without removing the wheel.
I know all you major bike makers are avid readers, so here is your mission: look at these non-production designer bikes—Christophe Robillard's Victor Bike and Inoda Sveje's Bike 2.0— and spare a thought for "the help", you know, those little folk to whom we pass our bikes to be cleaned after each ride, so they stay looking like the bikes in your ads.
If you know of any more easy-clean bikes, drop me a note. I might make a list. Belt-drive. Rod drive. Lefty forks. Righty frames. Full high clearance mud guards. Oh, and nothing stays cleaner than raw titanium.  

Commuting via the underworld

A reader, who I shall call Mr Do-Bee, today showed me the route he takes, on his mountain bike, each day to work. He came to this city from Montreal, a decade ago, and has taught himself every off-road route in three council areas. He can go from anywhere, to anywhere else, and never touch bitumen, unless it's simply to cross a road.

I'm not sure how my neck and kneecap will be tomorrow morning. I've fallen off three times, just trying to keep up with ol' Mr Do-Bee, who is the fastest descender I've ever accompanied on a mountain bike ride. Actually, without me to wait for at the bottom, he would have no use at all for his brakes. He commutes with a laptop and clean clothes in his bag, in a manner best kept secret from his life insurer, laptop insurer, and probably his wife and his children. We've been through creeks, down washed out gullies, through culverts that cut beneath freeways, and somehow popped out on a hill overlooking another city. In the mind of Mr Do-Bee, The Great North Walk, The Glenrock mountain bike trails, and obscure tracks behind fence lines otherwise only used by folk walking dogs, are part of a labyrinthine network of secret passageways, allowing him to treat the world we're living in, here in the light, as though he's of an underworld, and has the power to disappear and pop up anywhere else. As a mostly on-road rider, I feel like a spoilt prince who has only ever been shown the carpeted rooms of his palace, until some mad French-Canadian came and showed me how this city works behind the fake walls. His mind contains what I would call a highly developed, and radical, cycle-space map of this city.