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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

Bicycle. . .

I gave up my bicycle back in the late 1970s. Getting a drivers license had a lot to do with it. The fact that my bike — an old orange chopper bike, with monkey bars, a banana seat, a sissy bar, and a small front wheel — was getting quite worn out had something to do with it. I replaced it for a while with a green racing style bike, which I hated to ride. Those were the kinds of bikes that were being sold in the early 1980s.

Bicycles went downhill during those years: they ceased to be conveyances, and turned into sporting goods. There was no place to put a basket on those 1980s bikes. They had complicated and fragile derailer gears. They had anal probes where the seat was supposed to be. Worse, they had straight handlebars, or bars that curved down, forcing the rider to ride in a hunched over position. They were ridden by people wearing lycra and Devo helmets. You couldn't ride one of these things to work.

I got a bicycle at a yard sale: an aluminum Chinese model, with upright handlebars and a wide seat, coaster brakes and no gears. Started riding it again. It amazes me how many places are uphill, and i never noticed. ut this bicycle seems practical enough to actually be useful; the Chinese of all people ought to know how to build a practical bicycle for use as a conveyance rather than as part of some sort of competitive health regimen.


i bought a bike this year. i never had any trouble in the 80s getting a decent bike - my racing bike had front and read bags and a rear carrier. but i find most bikes really uncomfy, and i see no benefit at all in all the gears and stuff - i had 18 speeds and rode in one of them all the time. so i bought a 1948 Raleigh ladies bike. lovely upright position, backswept handlebars, Brooks saddle, one gear and rod brakes. i love it.
If you haven't been riding since the '80's, you probably don't know about Sheldon Brown, one of the best things to happen to cycling since the safety frame.

I'm pretty much of your opinion about modern cycling - After almost ten years of using bikes to go places the whole spandex junkie thing is not for me. (Wisecrack: referring to that magazine as 'Buy Cycling' is kind of the bike equiv of the ironic use of 'Micro$oft'/'M$').

After a while you'll stop noticing the uphills again. :)
That's a really nice and informative site. Thanks for pointing me at it.
The Japanese still have the right idea about bikes too. The majority sold here are the non-sporty kind, and are practical, comfortable and fully basket-equipped.

I myself have a lovely shiney blue granny-bike which I am very fond of :)


Living as you and we did at that time, in a town fraught with bicycle insanity, it was very hard to get an actual bike even from the best guy in town. No wonder you were having problems in the 80s. Not only were all the things you said true, but the two local-owned bike shops were engaged in fierce competition (mostly engendered by the other bike shop) for the position of supreme mucketymuck in relation to a certain alleged sporting event which shall remain nameless. You couldn't get a thing that didn't precisely fit the description of the style you're complaining about. What we referred to as a "touring bicycle" in the 60s was nothing like the monstrosity sold as one in the 80s and 90s.

A few years back, Sears started to sell old-fashioned cruisers under the rubric of "leisure bikes" (or "beach" or "city and recreational" models). The target audience was Centrum Silver types, i.e. old people -- old meaning anyone who couldn't ride one of those aluminum Brazilian bathing suits, I suppose. With the "aging baby boomer" demographic these are getting more recognition and a certain amount of snob appeal. You can now find decent bikes just about anywhere. I guess somebody somewhere wised up, maybe led by that guy mentioned in the previous comment.

(Go to that link, and check out the "Evil Bikes" article. *evil grin* Hey, when we were seven we had a Schwinn Hollywood -- and everybody knows that's the world's worst promulgator of iniquity, sin and vice.)

Re: rant

The "Pashley Princess" looks a lot like the Volvo bicycles they had in Sweden back in the mid 1970s when I was there over the summer. Those bikes were heavy as anvils, but had almost zero friction internally; once you got them started you had to make an effort to stop them. Lots of people rode them everywhere. Of course, being the "Old Country," people tended to build up rather than out, and the range of places you could get to on a bicycle was larger there than here. It was practical there for many people to go everywhere they needed to go by bicycle or by train.

That fortunately is going to change here. This, I guarantee. No more of the classic NIMBY suburban planning and zoning, designed to "preserve property values" by keeping stuff AWAY from our huge lawns and yards. People are going to have to get used to the convenience of retail businesses on the same streets as residences, rather than segregated on development strips.