3 February 2009

is there more convenient transport than a teleporter? (a note about low-maintenance bicycles)

Traffic jams are plaguing all countries, rich countries and poor countries, all countries. People want to get around, faster, farther, and more often. Gone are the times when an emigrant would never be able to go back to his country of origin, since the trip took several months; gone are the times when people would walk many miles for family visits, since horses were transport for the rich only.
A teleporter seems like the paragon of transportation solution, because it takes no time, no matter the distance. But is this technology still humane? Do we not need just a little bit of time to adjust from going from one place to another? Even in modern society, many trips are short enough to walk in ten or twenty minutes and even more trips are short enough to bike in ten or twenty minutes. Walking or biking has a big advantage over teleportation in that it is also a recreational activity! (To some, biking is even a sport.)
Unfortunately, many people see biking only as sport. To them, a bike is a toy which they do not expect to be apt for daily use as a reliable means of transportation. Your bike chain fell off? Well, have to do some other sport today!

Here's how a reliable bike looks like (not my bike):
Bikes with fully-covered chains have been available in Europe forever, and now finally there is a fully-covering chain guard available that you can just add as an upgrade.

This setup needs virtually no maintenance even when riding through rain and snow-slush. (I did it last winter with Speedy.) It's simply amazing. It also keeps you nicely neat and clean, which is why you can even see people in business dresses riding bicycles. No need to roll your pants up!

To many people this might look like a single-geared bike, but the gears are actually in the rear hub. Again, a technology that Europeans have used for decades and that is now widely available from global manufacturers. (After all, the famous German gear hub factory has been bought by an American company. And the Japanese are now manufacturing gear hubs, too. More on that in a later post.)

Update: In Toronto, Urbane Cyclist has the above-pictured "Chainglider" on stock.


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