That time of year when Target, Walmart and Toys R Us begin to stock obligatory bicycles. The idea to own a bike of your own is a strong pull which seems to obliterate rational thinking every Spring. Will the consumer ever stop buying these loads of crap. Don’t they know #$hit from #$hinola?Maybe they should hear about Harrison Bergeron the title character in the Kurt Vonnegut short story of the same name. Set in the future where society has achieved social equality so no one feels inferior to anyone else. Handicaps have been placed on perfectly fine people so as not to be any better than the least of their fellow citizens. The Vonnegut future is here folks and we have done it to ourselves. Looking at mass market bikes it is clear these are built to handicap normal people. Heavier construction than say 35 years ago. Components that will not stay adjusted or fail to perform. Two wheels may be the only thing mass market bikes have in common with other bikes in history.
The numbers that represent 2 billion dollars in sales of mass market bikes make me believe the profit motive drives this inferior product. One third of all bike dollars and over 70 percent of all bike sales are mass market. That leads to about 6 million unhappy customers a year who would otherwise increase ridership instead of decrease it. There is really no debate here that these bikes are affordable for the economically disadvantaged. But there is not another consumer product other than cheap house paint which comes to mind that can get away with this hoax. If you can educate yourself and stay away from this style of bike the better.
I was picture taking in Bahamas couple weeks ago and talked briefly with Betty the Bicyclist. It had been a rough day, she had just come from a funeral. Doing some shopping before heading home and I asked about her riding experience in Freeport. She said, little sad today in addition the bike she was riding was from dead friend. She wished she had her bike which fit her better, which she had lent to a friend. It appears Betty is riding a handlebar and seat setup which is too big for her. She is pining for the return of her own bike. For anyone buying a bike make sure you know what frame size means before you buy. To be clear. Tire size is not frame size. Always ride the bike before you buy. Another reason to pass on #$hitty bikes. Most Mountain Bikes in big box stores have one or two frame sizes. Cruisers are standard one size fits most. Comfort bikes either are step through or mens and seem to only come in one size. Would you buy a T shirt if it only came in one size? Do big box retailers have a moral obligation to stock and sell better bikes? When we let Harrison down as we must he is killed by the United States Handicapper General for demonstrating the hypocrisy of equality in the first place. Mass market bikes are killing the Harrison in all of us wether we buy them or not. Do we need to be equally slow, dumb and fat because it’s just so and will we remember this post two seconds after we are onto something else?