Alex Moulton's answer to, "Don't those small wheels slow you down?"

When I heard that Alex Moulton had died, the first person I thought of was Al Capello, owner of Portapedal Bike, in Tempe, Ariz.

Alex Moulton 1920 – 2012 | Portapedal Bike
Alex Moulton 1920 – 2012 | Screen shot: Portapedal Bike

When I visited Portapedal earlier this year, Al revealed himself to be an aficionado (a.k.a. fanboy), and he gave me test rides on the most expensive bikes I’ve ever ridden.

He also recited numerous examples off the top of his head of how Moulton’s bikes had confounded what traditionalists thought a small-wheeled bike could do. Such as:

  • Setting the world speed record for bicycles with a conventional riding position at 51 mph.
  • Successfully completing the Race Across America (RAAM) course; 3117 miles in 10 days 15 hours and 1 minute.

In other words, Moulton provided the ultimate answer to the annoying question received by every commuter with 20-inch-wheeled bike:

Don’t those small wheels slow you down?

The Portapedal blog has republished the announcement of Moulton’s death.

But Moulton did more than design pricey products for show-off cyclists. He was a patron of Sustrans, the British charity that promotes sustainable transportation, and encourages people to walk, cycle and/or use public transportation.

Other cycling blogs will talk about his visionary engineering, and his radical space-age designs. But this is why I think he deserves a special mention here on Commute by Bike: He was a champion for safe universal infrastructure for those of us who will never own a high-end bike with any sized wheels.

MOULTON Bicycle Company
Photo: MOULTON Bicycle Company

Here are a couple of links from the Moulton Bicycle Company Website:

You are welcome to leave a tribute to Dr. Alex Moulton at the following link:

To view a short newsreel by the BBC about Dr. Moulton please visit the following link: Dr.Alex Moulton 1920-2012

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One thought on “Alex Moulton's answer to, "Don't those small wheels slow you down?"”

  1. Well, you learn something new every day. I had no idea about Alex Moulton’s advocacy on the part of sustainability; that’s great to hear. I think we need to do a better job as advocates of talking about what sustainability means in real life. For me, it boils down to “lasting, economical and health promoting”. You really have to work hard to kill the life out of your bike. A decent bike is relatively inexpensive to upgrade so that it last for years; certainly more so than trying to maintain a car over the years. The mental and physcial health benefits are too obvious to go in to but usually, on my bike, my commute to anywhere, even the places I don’t want to go, is much more enjoyable than if the trip were by car.

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