Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That Must Be Heavy!

Those of us who ride old bikes are used to hearing this phrase, frequently spoken by spandex-clad "scorchers" (as they used to call speeding cyclists) nodding derisively at our old three-speeds or cruisers. I usually say, cheerfully, "Yup!" and toodle off down the street on my "clunker." Well, if it makes you feel any better, here's a quote from School Recreations and Amusements (1896) that advocates, quite sensibly, a heavier bike:

Except for track riding or racing, do not make the mistake of getting too light a machine. The wheel that is to stand the roughness of country roads and the unevenness of city pavements, that is to be solid, reliable, and trustworthy in all conditions, must have some weight. For road work, twenty-four to twenty-eight pounds is a convenient weight. 

The volume (the title of which does a disservice to its contents) also goes on to say:

The common rule of life seems to be hurry and rush, making work (and hard work) even out of our pleasures; but in the case of bicycle trips for pleasure, no course could be more unwise. Do not attempt to make so many miles a day. Stop when you like. Enjoy all that you can in the way of natural scenery or observations of life, and thus store up a host of pleasant recollections for after years.

Good advice in 1896, good advice now. Read the rest at Google Books.

1 comment:

  1. My old Raleigh is insanely heavy. But I find that it is so well designed that weight is not an issue. Spandex, flourescent colors and carbon fibre anything are aesthtically unpleasant, which is an issue. Plus, I doubt that stuff is built for fifty years of unsinkable service.