Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bikes, Yikes: the Extremes of Expertise

In his new book, "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities", Jeff Mapes suggests that the growth of biking for ordinary people is thwarted somewhat by the image of bikers as spandexed gearheads obsessed with equipment, paraphernalia, and feats of endurance - more a cult than fellow travelers.

Not that our own personal bike is like an Irish farmer's, which it is, nor that we ride about as fast as one coming from (not going to) the publican's (we're just trying not to make everyone else look shabby). But we understand Mr. Mapes's point.

It hit home today when we saw an ad for a bike on Craigslist. It advertised a Fuji Espree, with "steel-lugged, 45-centimeter frame", "12-speed Sountour ARX derailleurs", and "Dia-compe 500 brakes".

Because we don't know what any of that means, except "brakes," we figured this is probably a $500 vehicle. Right?

Wrong. It is an $80 bike.

To us, these are the specs for an $80 bike:

"White. Wobbly. Upright handlebars, not the curled-over kind. Brakes on handlebars, plus on peddles."

We would feel comfortable buying that. Not the one we have to study on before climbing on.

It reminds us of an interview we read once with Paul McCartney, the prominent bass guitarist, in a specialty magazine for musicians. They asked Mr. McCartney what kind of strings he used.

"Silver, I think," he said.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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