Screenshot via Bike Jax
It's great that the Huffington Post has a bike culture section. Most of the writers appear to know what they're writing about, except for this one. Bless his heart, he tried. Lest you mistake my critique for sheer upity-ness, I admit that I made one of the very same mistakes he makes in his article when I first started riding. I once commented on Amie's blog:
"I would like a vintage...lightweight bike or British utility bicycle, something lighter than my vintage Ross 3-speed. There a lot of hills here and sometimes I want to be a little lazy and not have so much to push against gravity."
After hanging out at my local bike shop and reading all sorts of bicycle blogs, I discovered that the weight issue is irrelevant once you start adding bike accessories and stuff to haul onto your bike. Unless you like bruised and broken food, why would anyone need to ride quickly in completing shopping or errands? Unless one likes arriving at work or school sweaty and breathless, why would anyone need a lightweight bike to race to his/her destination as opposed to commuting there? There's not much out there in vintage bicycle land that's lighter than my bike anyway--not anything that I'd want to use for commuting. That's one of the problems with Mr. Lewis' article--he wants a bike that does more than get you from point A to point B. He wants a bike that's as "light as air and (unlike the three above) ready to jump off a curb and hit the hills with abandon." Umm, isn't that the description of something other than a commuter bike? Last time I checked, there aren't a lot of lovely patisseries and boutiques located "in the hills." The same goes for office buildings and universities. Truly, Mr. Lewis needs a mountain bike, and he would probably be able to afford one in addition to his commuter if he didn't have a yen for $700+ bikes.
My other issue with the article regards ergonomics--a term, apparently, unfamiliar to Mr. Lewis. Seriously, how can a bike be "too upright?" "Too upright" makes it sound as if the quality of uprightness is undesirable when it's actually a very comfortable way to ride. All of us homo sapiens walk upright, don't we? Maybe the bikes Mr. Lewis tested weren't properly adjusted for him or maybe he has terrible posture; I can't begin to guess at the circumstances that would engender such a comment.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and those expressed by Mr. Lewis aren't so horrible as to work me into a lather. I'm more upset about the people seeking advice on commuting and mistaking Mr. Lewis' opinions for good advice. I'm afraid these folks will be overly concerned with weight and too resolved to purchasing an expensive bike through a payment plan. Granted, the old European uprights aren't plentiful on craigslist or Ebay so one might have to spend some change on a new one, but not necessarily the $650 cost of an Electra Amsterdam. I think the best piece of advice that could be offered to a new commuter is to enjoy the ride and let that ideal dictate what kind of bike, what number of gears, and which bike accessories. The pleasure in cyling comes from the ride, not the bike alone.