a la bike

I have become a bike aficionado. An appreciator of bikes. Not so much the fancy sleek super lightweight road bikes or fat tired ultra-suspensioned mountain bikes, but bikes with which things can be done that are more useful than carrying one body for entertainment and/or exercise purposes.  I would have one of each if I could. Here are those at the top of my want list.

Bike Friday Traveler Q Tour, http://www.bikefriday.com/travelerqtour?styleId
This one of a kind design is a folding tandem bike that collapses easily to fit into two standard size airline-permitted hard sided suitcases, AND converts to a single rider folding bike. To take a long road trip, all that is necessary is to pack it in suitcases, jump on the train, bus, plane, or boat to get near a destination of choice, hop off and reassemble it, and pedal off. Upon arrival home, the guy who works in downtown can convert it to a single and use it to commute in to work, fold it in less than 30 seconds, and carry it up to his office to put it safe and dry behind his desk. Cheers to Bike Friday for their clever design!
Traveler Q 406 Tandem and Single Large Images

Bakfiets, http://www.bakfiets.nl/eng/ 
“Bakfiets” is a Dutch word meaning “box bike”. It is a traditional Dutch bike with an extended frame in front that accomodates a lightweight wooden box. Newer designs have a collapsible frame with cloth sides, instead of a box. It is an ideal bike for a parent to carry one or more children while having them up front where they can be seen and talked with, fights broken up, etc. 🙂 It is also great for carrying stuff as well as people. Bakfietsen are used in the Netherlands by delivery people. The low center of gravity makes it more stable under load than a standard bike.

Mountain bike fitted with Xtracycle and Stokemonkey add-ons http://cleverchimp.com/products/stokemonkey/ 
The Xtracycle kit extends the frame of almost any bike, which makes for a ton of cargo room right behind the rider. The Stokemonkey is an electric assist that provides enough extra boost to help get up hills or even push a heavily loaded bike up stairs, while not replacing pedaling. Alternately, the Yuba Mundo bike http://www.yubaride.com/ would be fantastic with the Stokemonkey add-on. Both bikes comfortably carry one or two people besides the driver. The Yuba Mundo even has cargo bars which work as foot rests for passengers. These bikes are heavier than normal, but are ideal for larger shopping trips or trips to the hardware store for construction supplies.
Stokemonkey-equipped bike

“Bikes at Work” bike trailer, http://www.bikesatwork.com/bike-trailers/features.html 
This is not a bike of course, but it is worth a mention. There are lots of good bike trailer designs out there. These guys make a modular aluminum cargo trailer that can haul almost anything you would would need to haul. It can carry a refrigerator, or a washer and dryer in one trip. People use this trailer to move their household across a city.
model 32a bike cart

model 64a bike trailer

model 96a bike trailer

There are lots of other cool designs out there, this is just a peek…

I would love to own and use any of these, but in the meantime I am happy with the bike I have. I use an 11-year old Schwinn mountain bike that has been converted with city tires, full fenders, rear rack and waterproof pannier bags, and lights, for city use. The frame is a little small for me, but it works fine for what I need it to do. 

Despite infrequent withdrawal symptoms, it is a pleasure living without a car for the first time. I feel more free, though I’m not sure I can explain why. While it would be nice at times to have a car immediately available to satisfy a craving for a spur of the moment drive, this is not a necessity, and we are not bored.  We have found that there are plenty of interesting places nearby that we may never have discovered if we had a car. I think we are getting to know our neighborhood better as a result. For example, necessity makes us shop locally.

One last bike…for fun…the Conference Bike!! http://www.conferencebike.com/

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.  ~H.G. Wells


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