The Utility of Folding Bicycles

No Comments Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
The competition heats in blazers and ties at the Eastbourne Cycling Festival.

It's cute, but is it practical? That's the question many folding bikes elicit. Sure, it looks neat, but how well does it actually function? Author Wesley Cheney departs for Skagway, Alaska on the Ides of April with a Peugeot Nouveau folder, where he will be working as a bicycle tour guide for Sockeye Cycle Co.

 

Pimp my Patagonia Bikepack

4 Comments Topics: Bike Touring Written by Matt Maynard
Pimp my Patagonia Bikepack

Last month I wrote about my bikepacking expectations. We were about to head down towards Chilean Patagonia on our retro-fitted 1980s Thorn touring tandem. In the weeks building up to the trip I had done away with the bulky Ortlieb panniers and kitted it out with slicker, lighter-weight, snugger fit and generally far more fancy bikepacking bags.

The re-fit of our mobile home was going to be a kind of surprise for the stoker who sits on the back seat. I hoped we could ride further, and take on remoter trails. From now on we would be less sloppy station wagon, and more cut and thrust Corvette. Our bicycle-made-for-two would be a machine of

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The Swiss Army Bicycle Did All That, and More

1 Comment Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
A Swiss conscript riding a standard issue, shiny, new Modell-05 bicycle, circa 1990.

"A Swiss soldier without rock-hard buttocks brings shame on the army." On April 1st, 2015, a Swiss news site published a satirical article announcing the reinstitution of the bicycle regiments. Switzerland's defence department has ordered the reinstatement of the bicycle infantry for the Swiss Army in a bid to improve fitness standards among soldiers. The Swiss bicycle infantry was phased out in 2001 but a defense department spokesman said late Tuesday that its resurrection would help deal with the thousands of recruits who are out of shape. Spokesman Thomas Fisch said the army favors the return of the single-speed bicycles used continuously by the army between 1905 and the 1990s. Frankly, young Swiss men used to be fine specimens of manhood, but today many have ...

 

Tandem Bikepacking Expectations

6 Comments Topics: Bike Touring Written by Matt Maynard
Tandem Bikepacking Expectations

For a long time it seemed that boiled-down living couldn't get much simpler. Anytime I wanted to travel, all I had to do was clamp those brightly coloured, slightly unwieldy, boxes onto the side of my bicycle and I was away. I bought my shiny red panniers in 2010. Today they have dust and holes and ketchup stains accumulated over 20,000miles and three different continents. Along the way they been knocked off by lampposts, thrown down on desert floors and survived spectacular crashes. They even once rolled off a cliff and got washed down a river. But recently I discovered something new called "Bikepacking" a faster, lighter more streamlined approach to cycle touring. If you'd asked me five years ago what ...

 

How the Bicycle Won the Vietnam War

5 Comments Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
Chinese partisans on the move.

In the wake of World War II, the militaries of the West left bicycles behind for the automobile and the armored personnel carrier. Bicycle infantry units in the German army were disbanded alongside the rest of the defeated forces. The Allied armies demobilized, disbanding the vast majority of their troops, including all of the relatively few bicycle units. The sole European holdout was Switzerland, where the Bicycle Grenadiers still played a vital role. But more on them later. In Eastern Asia, it was a different story. The bicycle continued to be used by the Red Chinese army for guerrilla attacks on the Nationalist forces. Truck convoys would be attacked by small groups of partisans. The ubiquity of the bicycle in China ...

 

Rolling Recumbent Part 2: Neuroplasticity and You!

1 Comment Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
"Quick, Robin, to the Jimmy-mobile!"

"You can laugh at them now, Wesley," my biking buddy Liz had told me a decade ago on a group ride, "But someday youre going to be one of those old guys on a recumbent." Well, that day has come. I'm a certifiably older, slightly goofy guy on a recumbent. On my first sandwich delivery of the day, the front fork on my favorite touring bike had cracked, folded and failed. I crashed in the middle of a brand new bike lane, and dislocated my shoulder. After I crashed I dragged my bike to a light post one-handed, locked it up, and walked the remaining block to make the delivery. I got a ride back to my car and drove myself ...

 

Riding back to happiness

4 Comments Topics: Bike Touring Written by Matt Maynard
Riding back to happiness

A few months ago I got into a bit of a rut.

Not an all consuming black cloud rut. Just your typical too much work, not enough sleep kind of overcast feeling. Normally when I start to feel like this I self medicate with a long run in the mountains, or put some uplifting energy into planning a bike trip. But these last few months I've had some nagging injuries. When the doctor took a look at them, he prohibited all exercise and took away my medicine. Then the rut got a bit deeper. Soon I became a sulky and rather soft around the edges house cat. Worse yet, once I was physically able to ride a

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Rolling Recumbent, Part 1: The Utility of Recumbents

19 Comments Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
Sight seeing in a Dutch recumbent rickshaw. The integrated roof keeps everyone dry.

Recumbents. You've seen those oddball, laid-back bikes being ridden by slightly goofy guys (yeah, it's usually guys). They're smiling. They're waving. And they're looking suspiciously comfortable. Recumbents are practically the opposite of everything that bicycling is supposed to be about. There's no crying in baseball, and there's blessedly little comfort in bicycling. Right? Well, maybe not. From the start, recumbents have been criticized for being too comfortable. They first made a splash on the international cycling scene in 1933, when an enterprising French bicycle manufacturer, Charles Mochet, applied to have his "velorizontal" bicycles certified for competition by the Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI. The Mochet recumbents had distinct aerodynamic advantages. It's true: Recumbent Riders have a goofy grin, a side effect of ...

 

Joe Grant Interview: Self Propelled

No Comments Topics: Bike Touring Written by Matt Maynard
Joe Grant Interview: Self Propelled

Joe Grant cycled away from his front door in Gold Hill, Colorado this July with everything needed for a month of mountain travel. He travelled in "self propelled" style by bicycle and foot, linking up and summiting all of Colorado's 14,000' peaks along the way. The bikepacking racer set a new record of 31 days for the exhaustive solo endurance challenge, but his real goal was to inspire others to set out on their own "self propelled" adventures. In this interview for BikeShopHub we talk big miles, summer thunderstorms and the experience of putting yourself in a "raw and vulnerable state." Where did the idea of cycling between and climbing all 57 of Colorado's 14,000' peaks come from? I wanted to set ...

 

“Geef me min fiets!” Give me my bike! The Bikes of World War II.

4 Comments Topics: Utility Cycling Written by Wesley Cheney
"Happy New Year, from the Exalted Elite Bicycle Troops of the Emporer's Front Line."

'Tis a pity that General Patton didn't lead a column of bicycles into battle, but Field Marshall Montgomery led an army of foot soldiers and "foot cycles" in Normandy. When the British were bottled up in Normandy with their plentiful bicycles, General Eisenhower appealed to Winston Churchill to persuade Monty