Yesterday, one of my brothers contacted me saying he wanted to buy a bike to get to and from work, which is a little less than six (hilly, suburban) miles each way, and would one from Fred Meyer (a department store) work? Could he get one for less than $100?
I always inwardly cringe at these kinds of questions, because I knew I’d have to tell him that that’s just not enough money. At the same time that I would love for more people to ride bicycles, most people are surprised to find out how much bicycles cost–even secondhand refurbished bikes start at $300, for instance. And so they buy crappy bikes, and then wonder why people like me enjoy bicycling, when it’s such hard work/uncomfortable.
And so many people decide to try riding a bicycle to save money. That’s something cycling advocates push all the time–that cycling will save you money. But it’s hard to convince people of this, when they end up have to spend so much for a bike, and then a helmet and a decent lock, and then lights, and racks and fenders if the bike doesn’t have them, and then maybe panniers….yes, cycling can save you money. But it can take a while, especially if you have a car, too.
In any case, my brother came by my apartment and decided to try riding my Miyata to work for a couple of days before deciding whether or not to buy it from me. It was hard not to give him too much advice!! Thankfully he knows how to use friction shifters and the quick release, and he promised to buy a U-lock for the bike.
It was very strange to watch my brother ride the Miyata. He made a joke about the bike being “my baby,” but that doesn’t really describe my feelings. I just have so many happy memories that involve that bicycle, I guess, and it’s hard not to feel like my bicycles are a part of me. I wish I’d taken a picture of him on it, but it was getting dark anyway.
Despite him being at least a few inches taller than I am, the bike is borderline too-big on him too! And the mustache handlebars feel odd to him. He said it felt more natural to hold onto the bends, and I pointed out that he could get brakes mounted there instead of the ends if he wanted.
On the upside, if my brother bought it, I could always visit the bike and ride it again.
He described his inaugural ride to work as “cooold!” and said that it was harder than he expected. I reminded him to shift into a lower gear and that it gets easier with practice. I think I’ll send him the link to Sheldon Brown’s article on shifting.