Rental Bike

A friend is traveling (not bike touring) in Nepal and sent me this photo of a rental bike he’s been using to get around town. Details include a single speed transmission and non-functioning brakes. The bell is identical to those that are supplied with modern-day Pashleys. The frame is lugged-steel (hi-ten, at best) and I see a wheel lock on the seat stays and a chainstay-mounted rear brake. He said, “Everyone has the same size bike so little kids ride these and they actually stand under the top tube so they can reach the pedals.” The rental fee? $1 a day.

17 Responses to “Rental Bike”

  • Jim says:

    $1 a day sounds a little steep.

  • David says:

    Appears to be the standard bike-workhorse across SE Asia. Chinese made, retails for about $30 in places like Bangladesh.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    I think a “wow” is in order here : )

    This is indeed a typical SE Asian Roadster, but the state of decrepitude plus the description of the rental procedure are amazing.

  • Ows says:

    *Under* the top tube? Terrifying thought.

  • Bennett says:

    I rode one that looked about like that when I was in Nepal 10 years ago.

  • Andrew says:

    I rode a similar bike backpacking in East Africa. They also use enormous 28″ wheels, and the brakes are rod-actuated with little stirrups that press against the underside of the rim rather than the side. They definitely don’t work, but at least you didn’t need to worry about them locking up – you could just clamp down on the rear brake riding down a hill and it would scrub off a little bit of the speed.

    Lots of fun, and gave me a lot more respect for the people who use those bikes everyday as beasts of burden.

  • Hercule says:

    I was fortunate on a trip to West Africa nearly 20 years ago to be able to hire a Chinese “Hero” roadster, which proved to be a grand way to travel around town and countryside. It still had the wrapping paper round the frame tubes, which was apparently the way they liked to keep them if at all possible – evidence that then, at least, a bicycle was a valued and useful possession. I have a photo somewhere of it parked under a Baobab tree that really summed up the whole trip for me.

  • Jim says:

    Those kids under the top tube wear helmets?

  • Doug R. says:

    Fantastic pic! Alan, we need to see everyday “used” bikes! Most of the stuff in my high school bicycle racks looks Jetsonian compared to that beast! I am a
    “spoiled” American. I will ight a candle and burn some musk incense for that rental! Dougman

  • Liz says:

    Last time I was in Africa I saw a little kid riding “under the top tube”. Amazing — he had his left leg going through the main triangle and was just pedalling like the devil on the side of a busy city road. Wish I could have gotten a picture.

    Actually, I wish I could have gotten him a bike more his size!

  • Mike says:

    Well they can pay me a $1.00 a day, and i will walk…. Great picture!

  • » Blog Archive » Rental Bike. says:

    […] Posted in Uncategorized […]

  • Chandra says:

    i grew up riding a bike like that, which was a raleigh (england), my father’s bike. and, yes i rode under the top tube and as your center of gravity was lower to the ground it wasn’t scary at all – at least back then.

    if my memory serves me right, the bike pictured is a Hercules, possibly made by ti cycles india.
    you can see the letter H (cut out) just above the head tube.

    peace :)

  • Jon says:

    I work at a shop in L.A. that builds up bicycles like this new. We sell Flying Pigeon bikes, which are in most cases, completely identical to these. They look pretty good when new, but are a far cry in terms of quality from the English Roadsters that they are a copy of.

    The frames are pretty much 1/4″ thick gaspipe, and durable as hell in that already-rusted-inside sort of way. The brakes can actually work very well, when they’re set up properly. The bikes are NOT made for going fast at all, so you don’t really have to worry about high-speed stops.

    The nice thing about them is that if you actually manage to assemble the frame (at the shop, each one takes about 2-2.5 hours of work), the ride is incredibly mellow and smooth. The huge 28″ wheels and enormous wheelbase/fork rake soak up so much of the road. Very comfy indeed. Add a sprung saddle and you’re riding a freakin’ Cadillac.

    My boss tells me that a standard test back in the day for new mechanics was to give them a Raleigh DL-1 to build, complete with full chaincase, rod brakes, and all the frustrations that went with it. If they finished it without a nervous breakdown or pounding the bike with a sledgehammer, they might be given a job. And these were the high-quality English bikes. Not Chinese knockoffs with funky machining and crazy thread tolerances. I won’t say that I love putting these bikes together, but doing so has taught me quite a bit about problem-solving…

    Here’s a link to our assembly page for people who buy an unassembled bike from us. There is an associated Flickr photo set too.

    Flying Pigeon Bicycle Assembly

    93 Photos to a Flying Pigeon Bicycle

    That’s right, 93 photos.

  • Bernard says:

    Sweeeet!…Is there a Buy-it-Now price?

  • Mark says:

    I spent a few months in a small Chinese town last year a bought a brand new Feng Huang (Phoenix) bike much like this for about $50 US.

    Notice that this bike has rod brakes, where you pull your brake lever to move rods instead of cables. It makes for fairly weak braking but it’s bulletproof. These things aren’t made for going fast, although I rode fast on mine much of the time.

    Given that these bikes are usually ridden slow, most of them are geared much too high.

  • wien says:

    Mark,just like those bikes,right?

© 2011 EcoVelo™