Country Bikes

Now and again I see the term “country bike” used to describe a type of bike that’s similar to, but not quite like, a city bike. I’m pretty sure the term was coined by Rivendell’s Grant Petersen in his 2004 essay titled Copying the Wrong Bikes and Riders. Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

A country bike is just a road bike designed for comfort and versatility. It has 32mm to 38mm tires, fits fenders easily, can carry racks and luggage, but is still zippy when you strip off the extras. It’s a bike without racing’s influence. It’s not going to be the ticket for racer-wannabes, but it’s just right for 90 percent of the rest of us.

I don’t see the name used much other than in Rivendell’s literature, but it may be useful nomenclature for bikes that look a lot like city bikes, but have a few subtle distinctions, most notably being handlebars that are set at or above the level of the saddle, and relatively robust wheels and tires that are suitable for light trail riding.

Grant’s definition limits tire sizes within a specific range, but I’d say anything over 35mm qualifies. He also states that country bikes should be “zippy” when the accessories are removed, but I see no reason at all why country bikes need to be fast.

I’d modify his definition just a bit. Here’s my take:

A country bike is outfitted with wide-ish tires that can be ridden at pressures below 60-70 lbs., and are tough enough and have enough flotation to enable light off road riding. It has fenders, mud guards, and a chain guard to protect the rider’s clothing and luggage. It has racks, baskets, and bags to carry supplies for camping, commuting, shopping and light trekking. It has lights so it can be ridden any time of the day or night in any type of weather. It has a wide, comfortable saddle to soak up jars and bumps. And most importantly, it’s set-up with handlebars at or above the level of the saddle, a comfortable position that maximizes control and promotes a casual riding pace.

As you can see, that’s essentially the definition of a city bike, but with a specific emphasis on handlebar height and tire size/flotation. The way I see it, any country bike will function perfectly well as a city bike, but there are some city bikes with low, flat bars, and narrow rims with high pressure tires, that would not function well as country bikes.

I like the country bike concept — bikes that are robust like city and touring bikes, but with a few details that set them apart and make them suitable for dirt roads and hard-packed trails. My Pashley (see above) and my modified Long Haul Trucker are both functional city bikes, and they make excellent country bikes too.

A Message to Motorists #7

Dear Motorist,

Now that winter is here, please make the effort to completely scrape the snow and ice off your windows. See, even though clearing a small hole makes it possible for you to stay centered on the road, it may not be enough to see cyclists riding on the shoulder. And those large chucks of ice and frozen snow that fly off your car may hit cyclists and cause serious injury. I know it takes a little extra time, but taking a few minutes may save a life or two, including your own.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

Idea submitted by Mike in snowy and cold Vermont

Selfish Motives

While we think it’s important to help protect the environment by riding our bikes, we have to admit, we harbor selfish motives as well. Here are a few other reasons why we ride:

  • It’s fun. There’s really no other activity that gives us the sense of joy and freedom that we experience while riding our bikes.
  • It’s healthy. Bike riding is a healthy form of aerobic exercise that we participate in just about everyday.
  • We’re gear heads. We love researching new bikes, making modifications, tweaking parts and accessories, and maintaining our stable.
  • It’s an opportunity to connect with friends. Sharing the joyful experience of riding with friends is special and unique. There’s something about the shared effort, the fresh air, and the endorphins, that always makes for good conversation and fond memories.
  • It’s a great way to meet people. Wherever we go on our bikes, we inevitably end up meeting new people, and we sometimes even make new friends.
  • It’s a photo op. Bike riding provides an endless stream of photo opportunities.
  • It gets us in touch with nature. Bike riding is the one thing that gets us out-of-doors and in touch with nature every day.

What are some of the reasons you ride your bike?

TerraCycle L2D Mounts

The clever fellows over at TerraCycle sent me these photos of a pair of mounts they put together for the Fenix L2D using parts from their existing accessory mounts. The arms are from their Euro light mount (see last two photos), and the clamps are Cateyes. The fork leg version looks like a nice alternative to the A.N.T. and Paul/Gino mounts for those who don’t have lowrider braze-ons. The handlebar version is reportedly much stronger than the popular TwoFish block. If you’re interested in one of these set-ups—or some other custom configuration—drop them a note or give them a call and I’m sure they’d be happy to work with you on it.


World Bicycle Relief Double Bike Match

World Bicycle Relief’s “Double Bike Match” program is taking place now through December 31st.

When you give one wheel, a generous supporter will give the other. Donate a whole bike, and recipients in Zambia will get twice as much.

We’re World Bicycle Relief, a nonprofit organization that provides access to independence and livelihood through The Power of Bicycles. This year an angel donor will match all donations — dollar for dollar — up to $750,000.

Right now our goal is to raise $13,400 before 12pm CST on Friday, Dec 19th. That’s 100 bicycles (200 when you add the DOUBLEbikeMATCH). Any amount helps — $10 can make a difference and $134 buys a new bike.

One bike can help up to 20 people, which means 200 bikes will affect the lives of over 4,000. Please give today and tell your friends. The more donations we receive — no matter how large or small — the more we can improve access to healthcare, education and economic development.

World Bicycle Relief

Recall Notice

I ran across this important recall notice and thought I’d post it here. ;-)

View the Notice

The Other End of the Day

The crisp sunset to go along with today’s “Frosty Morning”.

© 2011 EcoVelo™