Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.
Bicycles contribute to the “long-term maintenance of wellbeing” in that their use creates no pollution and improves the health of those who use them. We believe they are an extremely important part of a sustainable future.
Another important aspect of sustainability is each person’s ability to participate in sustainable practices. In the case of bicyclists, that means keeping our bodies healthy and strong so we can “sustain” our ability to ride a bicycle for transportation over the bulk of our lives.
Dedicated transportational bicyclists need to be particularly careful to keep an eye on the long-term sustainability of their riding habits. It’s tempting to push through injury and illness in the short term, only to end up with more serious problems that keep you off the bike for long stretches (if not permanently). We need to allow ourselves guilt-free days off when the weather is unreasonably harsh, work schedules create conflicts, or our bodies are just telling us “enough”. We need to aim for participating at the highest level that still enables us to sustain our green transportation practices over the long-term without causing injury or diminished morale, both of which may lead to giving up bicycling for transportation altogether.
New York City’s Bicycle Access Bill is poised to pass in the City Council this week. Intro 871 will amend the City’s administrative code, requiring building owners to provide reasonable ways in which employees may access their building with a bicycle.
More and more businesses are encouraging their employees to bike to work, but frequently, building owners are a major obstacle because they don’t allow bicycles in their buildings, inexplicably citing potential property damage and liability as issues.
Lack of secure bike storage during the workday is frequently cited as a reason for not bike commuting; it’s hoped the new law will eliminate this major deterrent. Now if we can only get similar laws enacted in every city across the country…
Chain guards are a must-have component on bicycles that are ridden primarily for transportation. Chain guards keep clothing from getting caught in the drivetrain, keep grease off of street clothes, and in some cases, protect the chain from the elements. There are three general types of chain guards, each with their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Full Chain Cases
Advantages — Full chain cases completely enclose the chain, front chainring, and rear cog. They fully protect the rider’s clothing from the drivetrain while also offering the major advantage of protecting the drivetrain from rain and road grime.
Disdvantages — Full chain cases are relatively heavy, they’re not compatible with front derailleurs, and some designs can make repairing flats on the roadside difficult. The best insurance against being stranded because of a full chain case is running highly puncture-resistant tires and tubes combined with liquid sealant.
Chain cases are commonly spec’d on European utility bikes, but they’re rarely seen in the U.S. One of the few bikes from a U.S. supplier that comes outfitted with a full chain case is the Breezer Uptown 8 shown in the above photo.
Partial Chain Guards
Advantages — Partial chain guards cover the upper run of the chain from approximately 3 o’clock on the front chainring back to the seat stay. When most people in the U.S. think of a “chain guard”, this is what they’re thinking of. Like full chain cases, partial chain guards protect the rider’s clothing from being soiled or caught in the drivetrain. Partial chain guards typically weigh less than full chain cases and they provide unrestricted access to the rear wheel for roadside repairs.
Disdvantages — Partial chain guards are not compatible with front derailleurs and they don’t protect the drivetrain from the elements.
Advantages — Chainwheel discs are essentially chainrings without teeth that take the place of a second or third chainring on a double or triple crank. They provide a fair amount of protection, they’re lighter than either partial chain guards or full chain cases, and they provide unrestricted access to the rear wheel for roadside repairs. Their greatest advantage is that they allow the use of a front derailleur. The chainwheel disc shown in the photo replaces the third chainring on a triple crank, providing some protection while still enabling shifting between the inner and middle chainrings.
Disdvantages — Chainwheel discs don’t protect the drivetrain from the elements and they only partially protect the rider’s clothing from the drivetrain.
My new ride is something you might like, a Surly Travelers Check with S&S Machine couplers. I have kitted the bike out with pounded Honjo Fenders, Chris King headset and bottom bracket, Velo Orange front rack with VO bag, Shimano Ultegra components (soon to be changed to down tube shifters for simplicity), and a Selle An-Atomica leather saddle and matching leather bar tape. To say that this is a comfortable ride is an understatement, this thing rivals some recumbents! I not going to kick the race bike to the curb just yet, but for 90% of the riding here on Oahu this bike is perfect. I would venture to say that this bike would be perfect for 90% of the people I see on race bikes!
Just so you know, My place of employment is a VO distributor for Velo Orange products as well as Selle An-Atomica here on the Island of Oahu. The shop is called Momentum MultiSport, and is located in the Kaimuki area. OK, sorry for the shameless plug, but I want to see some Hawaiian Randonneuring! —John