Wednesday, 15 July 2015

In which bikes are like shoes

"You know, most of my errands aren't far away, and lots of my friends live nearby. Maybe I should walk to them instead of catching the bus everywhere. I'll need something better than these slippers, though."

"Have you tried these football boots? Good grip on muddy ground."

"Um... that's not really relevant? There are pavements."

"How about these ice-skates? Sharp blade, they go very fast."

"That's really not... hey, here are some leather shoes. Smart, waterproof - very practical. I'll have these."

"But those aren't any good for sports!"

"... I want to go to the shops. What do sports have to do with anything?"

Replace "football boots" with "mountain bike", "ice skates" with "road racing bike" and "practical shoes" with "granny bike", and you have the surprisingly frequent response to my decision to buy a bicycle. I think the popular "hybrid bike" is the equivalent of trainers - useful in many different scenarios, some people use them for everything, but there's a reason the traditional leather shoes still sell.

It's true that my Dutch granny bike is not very good for forest trails. But previously, I had no bike, so sports-wise, I am in the exact same scenario. Why buy a bike optimised for sports when what you want is to pootle around town? The Dutch bike is easy to get on and off, doesn't have any oily parts, and has lots of places to carry luggage. It is the leather shoes of the bike world.

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