Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Bikes We Meet

We see cool bikes around town every once in a while. I had the presence of mind to snap a quick picture of this Panasonic Touring Deluxe that I spotted chained up to the racks at Walnut and Jefferson. Later in the afternoon, I happened to walk past this bike again with my son. Even from across the street, he noticed this machine (he asked if it was mine; I told him "I wish."). I've developed a fondness for these old touring rigs, and the Panasonics are among my favorites. I have no particular reason for this affinity...they're just so cool. These bikes can still be sold for decent prices if they're in good shape. This particular specimen is probably an early-to-mid 80s model, and I'd guess it could fetch $300 or more on the open market. I also wanted to check out what other restorers were doing with these bikes and came across this very fine resto-mod at N+1 Cycle. And while it's not the same model, this Pro Touring resto-mod is also very handsome.

In other cool-bikes-around-town news, props to my employer, Mercy, for these badass emergency services bikes that Ginger spotted at Rock n' Ribs on Friday. It's hard to tell in the picture above, but these rigs have front-facing emergency lights. If I had to guess, I'd say they may also have rear-facing lights as well. The Star of Life on the forks is also a nice touch.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dusting Off the Wrenches in the Tinkery

As I mentioned yesterday, Spring is tune-up season. So I took some time over the weekend to get the Peugeot into prime condition for riding season. I should note that I ride nearly every day through the winter, so regular maintenance is a year-round affair. But on one of the first mild weekends of the year, it feels awfully nice to wrench on a bike with the garage door open and a beer in hand. I got the Peugeot up on the repair stand Sunday morning, which put me on a deadline for an afternoon ride on the Galloway Trail.

First step was to replace the dangerously spent brake pads. I picked up a bulk supply of Jagwire pads on the internet recently and I was looking forward to trying them out. They're a bit different than the original Nashbar pads that came with calipers - thicker and not as sleek - but they're a lot grippier than the Dia Compe pads that I used to use and I really like the old-school look.

Other than a general cleaning, my other task was to repack the hubs. The front hub went pretty quickly, as it uses standard ball bearings. But I forgot that the rear hub uses Suntour cylindrical bearings, which had me scratching my head until I found some disassembly and cleaning instructions online. In the end, I got the hubs repacked and rolling smoothly.

I didn't have time to tackle cables and housing, which wouldn't have mattered anyways since the guy in the shop accidentally sold me a mountain brake cable along with the other road brake and shift cables I bought. I was also considering replacing the bottom bracket cartridge, so I'll probably end up grabbing one of those when I pick up the one brake cable I'm lacking.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring is Here and so is C4B

Spring is here and, for me, that means two things: 1) tune-ups and 2) Cruisin' for a Brewsin. With regard to C4B, the March installment - the first of the year - was rainy and cold, but predictably awesome. The ride included Mother's tasting room and J.O.B., which were both a blast. And of course the usual kick-off and finale at Dugout. My buddy KC came along on his trike and passed out Park tire levers to all the other riders. Just talked to a couple people who've already used theirs.

As fun as last month's C4B was, this month's is looking to be even better. The April ride is scheduled for this coming Thursday and is slated to include stops at Lindberg's, University Plaza hotel, and as always, the Dugout. Lindberg's is one of my favorite regular stops on C4B nights. I'm also looking forward to seeing what happens when a bunch of bike geeks with skid lids crash the U.P. Anyways, be at the Dugout at 6:30 on Thursday for a good time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Gentleman Carries His Umbrella Using a Leather Frame Cinch


I've been looking for an excuse to take a picture of my bike against this wall - an outer west-facing wall at my workplace. Took the opportunity yesterday morning when I decided to document my method for carrying an umbrella by bike.

Heavy cloud cover in the morning (when this picture was taken) was forecasted to turn to rain throughout the afternoon. I had an afternoon meeting on the schedule a few short blocks from my office, so I brought my umbrella to keep me dry during the walk. What better way to carry an umbrella on a vintage Peugeot than with a leather frame cinch?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are Bicycles the New Motorcycles?

Throughout history, bicycling has had a radical, scofflaw sub-culture. In the early years of the modern safety bicycle, machines were expensive and their use was primarily limited to the affluent. But over time, things changed. Bicycles became less expensive and were eventually available to the working class. When the bicycle was made available to the masses, a culture of scorchers and drags were born. It was this class of crazed speed addicts that gave rise to the adrenaline-fueled, danger-seeking sub-culture that would continue throughout the history of bicycling.

The 1970s saw the birth of klunkers and early mountain bikers. BMX was all the rage in the 80s. Bike messengers ruled the 1980s and early 90s. And let's not forget about the fixed gear resurgence of the last decade. For over a century, the bicycle scene has had an undercurrent whose members were considered frightening lunatics to the more genteel members of society.

When you compare the history of bicycle culture to that of motorcycle culture, the two paths are surprisingly similar. Motorcycling has also had a sub-culture of lawlessness and rebellion. Rockers and tons, motorcycle clubs, and modern street bike racing are not so different from early scorchers, bicycle clubs, and alleycats. And like bicyclists, motorcyclists have been consistently pushed into the margins of society.

At the most basic level, both bicycles and motorcycles are modes of transportation that provide their riders with feelings of freedom and independence. And both have a rich past that is closely tied to counterculture. As a bike commuter and general bicycle geek, I tend to feel a certain camaraderie with motorcyclists. We face many of the same dangers and harassment out on the road. But more and more often I see motorcyclists joining the ranks of those who find it entertaining to harass and maliciously endanger bicyclists. It seems almost ironic, given that motorcyclists have historically been subjected to the same types of persecution by motorists.

Is this really all that surprising, though? The average motorcycle rider in the U.S. has an average age of nearly 50 and, here in southwest Missouri, is almost invariably a white male. Add to this demographic a prevailing culture of machismo and - at times - violence, and the resulting population doesn't exactly have a track record of tolerance and courtesy.

I have no intention of generalizing here. I've certainly gotten plenty of respect - both on and off the bike - from motorcycle riders. But it's so easy for a handful of experiences with rude people to ruin the reputation of the entire group. Preying on more vulnerable road users is certainly grounds for tainting the well. For someone who's on a bicycle everyday, that makes it easy to put motorcycles in the same category as cars: larger vehicles to be regarded with caution and fear, whose operators can be malicious and dangerous. This is completely antithetical to the freewheeling counterculture that has traditionally been associated with motorcycling. On the other hand, bicycling continues to represent the very thesis of counterculture: freedom, individuality, environmentalism, and minimalism. I'm not arguing that the bicycle is some type of modern-day freak flag, but I am certainly arguing that bikes are cool. They always have been. They always will be.