modern cycling

I read on a cycling blog the other evening about a guy visiting Holland. He was impressed with all the cycling infrastructure, but incredulous about one feature of dutch bikes.

They don’t have any brakes.

Seriously, he thought they didn’t have brakes.

Instead he told me, it is necessary to pedal backwards ! He swore it’s true.

Am I so old that only I remember when all bikes were “coaster” brake: you pedaled forward to go forward, you stopped pedalling to coast, and you pushed in reverse to apply the brakes. Has everyone born since the popularity boom of the ten speed bike in the 1970’s only ever seen the hand brake and derraileur?

I was delighted to see this large trike in front of an “antique” store on Somerset West. I had one of these as a kid, back in the days when kids only got a two wheeler when they were 8 or 10 years old. Heck 18 month old kids today got plastic two wheelers and these trikes are … well … antiques. Like me.

3 thoughts on “modern cycling

  1. This brings up my obligatory rant about Europeans and their coaster brake bikes (note: I grew up in south Germany). Little old ladies (on bikes of course) will tell you in all seriousness that a front brake is a crazy idea, as it will make you flip the bike and crash. Much safer only to use a coaster brake rear which simply locks up and skids the wheel before dangerous braking forces can be obtained. Note that I grew up there, and once nearly got killed on a steep switchback descent, when the chain came off leaving me with *no* brake.This of course is because of the bolt-upright posture preferred by non-athletic cyclists. With the handlebar grips roughly above your knees, there is no leverage to brace yourself against deceleration, so you slide forward off your seat, overbalance and go over. Don't even get me started about the "pretzel" style handlebars now used by such cyclists.As for me, the first thing I do when presented with a typical Euro-bike is to check and adjust (if neglected) the front brake. Then again, south Germany is very hilly and Holland is not.Markus

  2. The difference is that most 'modern' bikes without brake levers don't have a coaster break either — when you stop pedalling or pedal backwards you're not engaging a brake, you're just preventing your back wheel from turning. Very hip, I'm told.Cool trike!

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