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The following shows questions others have asked.
BRAKES & STOPPING (NON-MAINTENANCE)
& SELLING BIKES
CRASHES & MOTORIST INCIDENTS
DRIVE TRAINS & WHEELS
FITTING A BIKE
HOW TO BICYCLE
LOCKS, THEFT, & PARKING
MAINTENANCE & REPAIR
WHERE TO BICYCLE
WORKING IN BICYCLING
Clarification on recumbents
July 14, 2004
I have just begun your book for urban bikers and,
as a Manhattanite who rides in traffic daily to commute and run errands, I am
altogether amazed at all the information you have packed into one book. I am
heartened to finally find a book that actually addresses all the real difficulties
of riding in a congested city. I cant thank you enough for sharing your
savvy with the rest of us.
your brief mention of recumbents may not do them justice. Some compact long
wheelbase recumbents, such as the Rans Tailwind that I ride in traffic, work
so well that I think you may want to reconsider the complaints you have against
them. I see very well. The bike is not too low to see or be seen. My short wheelbase
Rans V Rex actually seats me so high that its riding position is nearly level
with that of a conventional bike. The height in traffic issue varies greatly
with each recumbent design; a potential city biker can carefully choose a recumbent
that really doesnt compromise this very important safety issue.
On a compact
long wheelbase the wobbly front wheel issue is a minor one: this design allows
me to push the bike forward so quickly from a complete stop that I find that
I rarely experience much of a wobble at all. This particular design feels very
stable from the moment it begins to roll. This is not the case with all recumbent
designs. I would argue that the compact long wheelbase style recumbent is an
especially worthy candidate for any urban bike list.
In any case,
thanks for your terrific book! It will only make my riding more successful and
Thanks very much for all your kind words about my
I appreciate your insights into bents. I hadnt
looked at recumbents in a while, so dove back in and found the following.
A certain model of recumbent might place your eyes
higher than a certain model of upright bicycle. Regarding cycles in traffic,
however, I think youll find the average upright bicyclists eyes
at a higher level than that of the average recumbent riders. Also, consider
head tilt: Comparing two kinds of cycles that go fast in traffic, recumbents
and racing bikes, a rider of the latter might have their head tilted down more
than that of the recumbent rider. In this case, from a safety standpoint one
could argue that the bent rider has an advantage because they can look
ahead and around more easily.
The amount of starting wheel wobble also varies from
model to model, but it seems just as affected by rider height and weight. Wobble
seems to occur for most people who switch from an upright to a bent. For
some, it clears up depending on how well they adapt and the bikes stability.
To get more bent info, a Web site I like: www.recumbents.com/home.asp.
September 23, 2004
I enjoy long bike rides near my cottage on the Michigan shore. My question
has to do with a cycling apparel problem. For comfort's sake, I wear very short
pants while cycling. Being a virile man, sometimes it is difficult to balance
the comfort of short shorts with exposure issues.
I would appreciate any tips or tricks you may have to
offer to ease my dilemma.
get the exposure you crave and the protection you need with a product I like,
Short Shorts. They leave the skin uncovered but dont ride up while
bicycling, providing embarrassment-free comfort.
Also, you might find further inspiration in these lyrics
to the 1958 tune Short Shorts by the Royal Teens:
Who wears short shorts
We wear short shorts
They're such short shorts
We like short shorts
Who wears short shorts
We wear short shorts.
[Repeat 2 more times]
When police kick you off the road
December 1, 2004
I have been reading what you have to say about cycling
on streets. Where I live is the country, we have roads not streets. I avoid
cities, too many red lights, I stop for every one.
I have been riding according to the Pennsylvania bicycle
drivers manual for years. The local police dont want me to ride as a motorist
would. If a car comes up behind me, they want me off the road, if I dont, motorists
just stack up behind me. Only some will pass.
I have been in front of the magistrate every year for
something for the past 15 years. No matter if I bike on a major thoroughfare
(like the road I live on) or on an asphalt-covered path through the woods, I
keep getting citations. I usually get them for "vehicle proceeding slower
than prevailing speed." Once, when I didnt stay pulled over when a cop
told me he was taking my bike, I was charged with "fleeing and eluding
The last time I was in court, I had gotten five citations
all for the same thing, doing what the law says I can do. Have you ever heard
of anything like this? I have been contacting bicycle advocacy groups for years.
persist for years, sometimes the people involved find it difficult to change.
Ive a suggestion nonetheless.
You could try asking a local police official to meet
with you. Youd want someone high up enough in the agency (e.g., watch
commander, deputy chief) who can affect what the patrol-level officers do. At
that meeting, you could have the goal of learning how and where the police think
you should ride your bike on specific roadsgiven that the law says you have
the right to ride on them.
It seems to me that itd help to have an uninvolved
third party accompany you to this meeting. I suggest an advocate who not only
understands bicyclists rights but has worked successfully with police.
You dont say what advocacy groups youve contacted, but you might
try Bike Pittsburgh and
Finally, keep in mind that non-bicyclists (including police) often have
a hard time understanding that bicycle riders have a right to the road, so they
need our help to get educated. I find traffic situations a bad place to deliver
this educationso it serves you better to deliver the message in a meeting
Who invented armored cable?
December 6, 2004
I called an invention help line about one and a half
years ago about a lock design very similar to armored cable. Todays armored
cables could just be based on my design.
If you ask me, armored cable beats a chain due to the
thickness and high strength of the outer shell. If todays cables are similar
to my design, I would estimate the cutting resistance to be equivalent to 3/4"
hardened steel, and it would have the pull resistance of 3/4" cableand
still be relatively light but nearly indestructible.
If what I say is accurate then I have put bike thieves
at a great loss even if I never profit from the design. But I would like to
know if I should take credit for it.
The lock industry
has had armored cables for a lot longer than 1.5 years; Id guess at least
To learn more about the origins of armored cable I suggest
you contact lock manufacturers whove made them for a long time. Try Master
Lock (Wisconsin), 800/558-5528 and Kryptonite
IDing your bike: going beyond registration
January 28, 2005
Motivated by the frustration of a few recent bike theft
reports in my city, I found a few minutes and started a Web-based stolen-bike registry.
Our inspiring bike community is all about taking action rather than complaining
or waiting for someone else to solve your problems. In
that spirit please help me grow this page into something useful, and
let's see if we can get a few bikes returned to their owners.
Got any advice for me?
While I find your registry a laudable grassroots effort,
nothing prevents me from finding your bike parked on the street, copying down
its serial number, going to your Web site, and registering your bike as my own.
Next I wait till I see you riding your bike, grab a cop, and (as happened to
my uncle Eddy as a teen) falsely accuse you of taking the bike that I can
prove belongs to me.
So Ive a very strong recommendation for all bike
owners, especially anyone who thinks they might someday use your site: Install
in your bike incontrovertible
evidence of your ownership. Write your name, address, and phone number on a
card, seal it in a plastic bag, and stick it inside the handlebars or seat post
tube. That way, if you happen across someone on your stolen bike, you can likely
prove your ownership on the spot.
Ive gathered some other clever ideas for IDing
your bike, and they appear in the "Avoiding Rip-Off" chapter of my
Potential problems from removing a front derailleur
February 23, 2005
Greetings. I would love to get rid of my front derailleur
on my urban Kona Smoke and just run a single cog at the front with a chain guard;
I saw some ready-made bikes set up like that. However I was told that if I do
that my chain would constantly be slipping, especially when riding on uneven
surfaces. Is it so? Many thanks.
Feelin lucky? You could just try it and see what
happens. The chain just might stay on the front gear, which in bike-biz jargon
we call the chainring. (The chainrings connects to the crank, the thing to which
the pedals attach.)
First, tho, lets consider: Should you remove the
chainrings that you dont plan to use? You could just leave them all on,
put the chain onto the one you want to use, and let er rip.
But which chainring do you put the chain on? For a crank
with three chainrings, most people would opt for the middle gear to avoid a
bending chain, which Ill get to in a minute. With a two-gear chainring,
for longevity Id go with the outer gear cuz the inner, smaller gear will
wear more quickly, seeing as it has fewer teeth.
Now, then. If your luck doesnt hold and the chain
drops off the chainring, youve options:
1. Leave off the shift lever and cable, but put
the front derailleur back on. Adjust
the set screws (sometimes called the adjustment bolts) so that the
derailleur keeps the chain centered on the chainring but doesnt
rub on the chain when youve got the chain on the middle rear gear
2. Install a chainring protector or guard, sometimes
called a rock ring. This plastic or aluminum ring sits right next to the chainring,
far enough way so the chain doesnt rub on it. Manufacturers originally
intended such a gizmo to protect a mountain bikes chainring from rocksbut
it has the added benefit of keeping the chain from dropping off on whatever
side of the chainring you have it installed. A clever mechanic could rig a chainring
guard on both sides of the chainringsort of sandwiching it so the chain
doesnt fall off on either side. (Note that some cranks come with an outer
guard already attached.) If youve left the unneeded chainrings on the
crank, you might have to remove one or two of em to make room for the
3. Install a device called a chain watcher or keeper
(brand names: 3rd Eye, Deda). It attaches to the seat tube on the inner side
of the chainring, and keeps the chain from falling off on that side only. You
could use it in combo with an outside chainring guard, which I suspect would
make for an easier overall installation.
One more thing: Using only one chainring in front could
cause what the jargonites call "acute chain line angle." Imagine the
chain on the inside chainring in the front, and the outside cog in the back.
In this case the sideways angle into which the chain has gotten bent can cause
it to grind the teeth of the chainring, wearing them down. If your bike has
an aluminum or alloy chainring (not uncommon), that wear can happen pretty quickly.
(Old five-speed bikes didnt fall prey to acute chain line angle, apparently,
cuz they made em with the cogs closer together.)
What to do? Depending on a bunch of stuffwhich
chainring you have the chain on, the horizontal position of the chainring, how
often you use the inner or outer cogs, and what kind of chain you haveyou
might not have a problem. Just in case, tho, you might wanna make sure youve
got a steel chainring, which will hold up much better to this sort of punishment,
titanium even more so.
On a tandem, which rider signals?
March 11, 2005
When riding a tandem, which rider (front or back) does
the hand signals for turns and stops? Thanks.
Experienced tandemites will tell you that a satisfying
tandem ride requires good communication between partners.
That said, lets first explore who most logically
should do the hand signals: the front rider (AKA captain, pilot, or driver)
or the rear rider (AKA stoker or rear admiral). Because the captain makes most
of the decisions about turning and slowing based on what they can see to the
front, it makes sense that the captain has ultimate responsibility for signaling.
But, as I say, good tandeming results from teamwork.
Let me illustrate. Say you and I go for a tandem ride with you piloting and
me stoking, with some other bikers tagging along behind. We get going at a pretty
good clip, when, suddenly, you see a child about to dart into the street from
the sidewalk. As you use both hands for the brake levers you say to me, "Slowing!
Please signal!" At which point I give the "slow" arm signal to
the riders behind me.
The lesson: In some situations that require signaling
the captain needs both hands to control the bike, so they rightly take advantage
of the stokers hands to signalbut to do so captains must communicate
their wishes. On the other hand many couples find that, after tandeming together
for a long time, they have to speak far less often to relay their intents.
What if the captain signals? Should the stoker also
signal, if the latter doesnt need that hand otherwise? I say, why not?
In certain casessuch as signaling a right turn using the right armit
helps make the signal more visible to motorists positioned to the tandems
You might like, as I do, the thread about communicating
at the Bike
How to transport a quadracycle?
March 31, 2005
I'm buying a Rhoades Cara 4-wheel, 150-pound,
9-foot long "bike." Im picking it up to save a couple
hundred bucks on shipping, save time, and reduce the chance of it getting
damaged in shipping.
I know it would fit in my 5 x 8 trailer but that
means itll bounce around the trailer for several days. And keeping
it on a utility trailer for several days seems a bit of a theft risk and
a potential parking problem.
I have a couple of other options in mind to transport
this thingput it inside my Suburban, or put it on top of my '95
Astro Vanbut there seems no way to know what is best.
Any advice would be much-appreciated!
Believe it or not, I have had to haul a heavier
cousin of the Rhoades Car. Actually, two of them at the same time. Twice.
(All in the interest of educating
motorists about bike riders.)
I only borrowed the things, so I rented a
truck. Cost might prohibit that option for you, as your pick-up involves
a multi-day trip.
The manufacturer very definitely discourages
putting their fine product on top of any passenger-class motor vehicle.
Something about roofs caving in, quadracycles bouncing down the highway,
and the like.
It sounds like your only problem with an otherwise
perfect solution, the 5 by 8 trailer, has to do with theftwhich
you can remedy easily with a lock or two. Get a high-security chain, like
the ones available from OnGuard,
and lock the quad to your trailer. On the road, when you park for the
night, put the chain thru the trailers wheel. To avoid bounce bring
a bunch of strong bungies to lash the quad down.
And, unless you plan to stop overnight in Manhattan,
you will find a place to park. Ask anyone whos driven cross-country
in a moving van with a car towed behind. (Like, uh, mebefore my