Social aspects of bikes (P.1)

Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft. It was a pair of bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright, who achieved the first powered flight in an aircraft. Their design owed much to knowledge gained from bicycles. They also served to teach the industrial models later adopted, including mechanization and mass production (later copied and adopted by Ford and General Motors), vertical integration (also later copied and adopted by Ford), aggressive advertising (as much as 10% of all advertising in U.S. periodicals in 1898 was by bicycle makers), lobbying for better roads (which had the side benefit of acting as advertising, and of improving sales by providing more places to ride), all first practiced by Pope. In addition, bicycle makers adopted the annual model change (later derided as planned obsolescence, and usually credited to General Motors), which proved very successful. Early bicycles were an example of conspicuous consumption, being adopted by the fashionable elites. In addition, by serving as a platform for accessories, which could ultimately cost more than the bicycle itself, it paved the way for the likes of the Barbie doll. Bicycles helped create, or enhance, new kinds of businesses, such as bicycle messengers, traveling seamstresses, riding academies, and racing rinks. Their board tracks were later adapted to early motorcycle and automobile racing. There were a variety of new inventions, such as spoke tighteners, and specialized lights, socks and shoes, and even cameras, such as the Eastman Company’s Poco. Probably the best known and most widely used of these inventions, adopted well beyond cycling, is Charles Bennett’s Bike Web, which came to be called the jock strap. They also presaged a move away from public transit that would explode with the introduction of the automobile. J. K. Starley’s company became the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. in the late 1890s, and then simply the Rover Company when it started making cars. Morris Motors Limited (in Oxford) and Škoda also began in the bicycle business, as did the Wright brothers. Alistair Craig, whose company eventually emerged to become the engine manufacturers Ailsa Craig, also started from manufacturing bicycles, in Glasgow in March 1885. In general, U.S. and European cycle manufacturers used to assemble cycles from their own frames and components made by other companies, although very large companies (such as Raleigh) used to make almost every part of a bicycle (including bottom brackets, axles, etc.) In recent years, those bicycle makers have greatly changed their methods of production. Now, almost none of them produce their own frames. Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world’s bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles. One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China. In line with the European financial crisis, in Italy in 2011 the number of bicycle sales (1.75 million) just passed the number of new car sales.

Basic riding techniques (part 2)

As promised, we are back with another set of basic techniques for you. Thank you for waiting. We hope that these tricks and tips will help you have a great experience with your new hobby. Good Luck and Have Fun!

How to Shift

If you think of yourself as the bike’s engine and try to shift frequently to maintain a comfortable and steady pedaling effort, you’ll begin to use the gears more effectively. Keep in mind that shifting works best when you apply only light pedal pressure to the pedals. So shift before the hill gets too steep and never stomp the pedals until a shift has taken place. Most people find a pedal cadence (how many times one pedal goes around in a minute) of about 60 to 90 rpm about right. Find what feels good for you and then shift every time it’s either too hard or too easy to pedal. When you realize that you need to shift, use the right shift lever for small adjustments in pedal effort and use the left lever for major changes in how hard or easy it is to pedal. Most important: don’t be afraid to shift. Shift often and you’ll get good at it and on rides you’ll save energy and feel better.

Corner Fearlessly

When you come into a scary turn, if you can get yourself to look to the inside of the turn (don’t just turn your eyes, turn your head and shoulders) you’ll find that the corner is not so scary anymore and you’ll scoot right around it.

Take Juli’s Advice

Mountain bike champ Juli Furtado once said, “The faster you go, the easier it gets.” It’s great advice. Most of the bike handling problems people have are related to riding the brakes too much. If you can back off the brakes and let the bike roll, you’ll discover the wonders of momentum: with a little more speed, the bike gains stability, it gets easier to hold the good line and you steamroll obstacles that used to give you fits.

Use Bigger Gears Off Road

To make off-road rides smoother and more comfortable, try riding in slightly larger gears. This allows you to support more of your weight on the pedals and get some off your seat, which allows “floating” over, rather than pounding into ruts, roots and other rough stuff. The same trick works riding your road bike over bumpy pavement. Give it a try!

Just Learning?

New cyclists are often afraid to ride on busy streets because they’re not confident getting into the pedals, shifting and braking. You could pedal laps around the neighborhood. A more exciting approach is putting your bike in the car (bring along a cooler with some goodies) and driving to a safe country road. Here you can ride in either/both direction(s) from your car to see some scenery while practicing your skills on a safe road!

No. 1 rule : safety first!

Bicycles are legally considered “vehicles” on roadways. That means bicyclists must obey the rules of the road like drivers of any other vehicle and must be treated as equal users by all other vehicles. Here are some safety tips:
  1. Obey traffic signs and signals – Bicycles must follow the rules of the road like other vehicles.
  2. Never ride against traffic – Motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the road. State law and common sense require that bicyclists drive like other vehicles.
  3. Follow lane markings – Don’t turn left from the right lane. Don’t go straight in a lane marked “right-turn only.”
  4. Don’t pass on the right – Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
  5. Scan the road behind you – Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
  6. Keep both hands ready to brake – You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, since brakes are less efficient when wet.
  7. Wear a helmet and never ride with headphones – Always wear a helmet. Never wear a headphone while riding a bike.
  8. Dress for the weather – In rain wear a poncho or waterproof suit. Dress in layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Wear bright colored clothing.
  9. Use hand signals – Hand signals tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy, and of self-protection.
  10. Ride in the middle of the lane in slower traffic – Get in the middle of the lane at busy intersections and whenever you are moving at the same speed as traffic.
  11. Choose the best way to turn left – There are two choices: (1) Like an auto: signal to move into the left turn lane and then turn left. (2) Like a pedestrian: ride straight to the far side crosswalk. Walk your bike across.
  12. Make eye contact with drivers – Assume that other drivers don’t see you until you are sure that they do. Eye contact is important with any driver which might pose a threat to your safety.
  13. Look out for road hazards – Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
  14. Use lights at night – The law requires a white headlight (visible from at least 500 feet ahead) and a rear reflector or taillight (visible up to 300 feet from behind).
  15. Keep your bike in good repair – Adjust your bike to fit you and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly. Routine maintenance is simple and you can learn to do it yourself.