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Utility Cycling

The Swiss Army Bicycle Did All That, and More

“A Swiss soldier without rock-hard buttocks brings shame on the army.” Bicycles are almost as Swiss as Swiss Army knives, and the Swiss Army proudly maintained a front-line bicycle infantry regiment into the 21st Century. While it was disbanded in 2003, The Swiss Army continues to use bicycles for base transportation, lending some credence to […]

How the Bicycle Won the Vietnam War

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 […]

Rolling Recumbent Part 2: Neuroplasticity and You!

“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 […]

Rolling Recumbent, Part 1: The Utility of Recumbents

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 […]

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

‘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 [British commanding officer General Montgomery] […]

The Practical Cargo Bike, or, are Cargo Bikes just the New Black?

Are cargo bikes practical? asked a denizen of Quora.com recently (a more polite version of Reddit). An interesting question, I thought, but whats a cargo bike, and whos to say whats practical? If cargo is defined as anything in excess of the human engine, then any bike that can carry a water bottle is a […]

Bikes at War Part Two: The Great War

Adolf Hitler was a bike messenger? Yes, indeed. And a decorated one, at that. But more on that later. If the Great War had been fought in accordance with the fantasies of armchair generals, then the bicyclist would have replaced the doughboy as the symbol of gallantry and heroism. Sadly, the war devolved to trenches, […]

A Brief, Illustrated History of the Bicycle at War, Part 1: Boers on Bikes

“A Bike, A Bike, My Free-State for a Bike!” The utility of any invention is most tested when it is put to war, and the bicycle is no exception. Like any invention, mankind was quick to press the bicycle into making war. After all, here was a vehicle that gave a man the mobility of […]

To Bike and Protect: Cops Bike for the Common Good

Cops on bikes? It sounds like a Monty Python skit, to be sure. But what could be more utilitarian than bike cops? If the purpose of police is to protect and serve, and if the bicycle is the vehicle that allows police more contact with the community and more opportunity to fight crime, then why […]

Bike Medics Do It Faster

If you’ve been to an outdoor festival or a marathon, you’ve seen the guys standing on the sidelines with overloaded mountain bikes. At first glance you might have thought they were just part of the crowd, but their matching uniforms and EMS embroidery tells a different story: they’re Bike Medics. Surely in the Twenty First […]