Monday, March 5, 2012

Reply to Van or Truck for Bugging Out: Bicycles

You might be better off with adding bicycle as suppliment to your a bug out vehicle sometimes. Roads bridges maybe clogged with traffic and protestors, fuel may be scarce. You can carry a decent amount of stuff on sturdy bike and keep moving. Granted if you have small kids you are still screwed.
We hada small earth quake here a few months ago on the east coast, a 4.5. Traffick was snarled to a crawl and the subway was limited to 15 MPH. A bike would have been handy in getting home.
note to all Gen Tomoyuki Yamashita put about 10,000 infantry on bicycles to keep up with his tanks. He used them as “motorized infantry”. He choose the bike, to increase speed and effectively double carrying capacity (for food, water ammo) of his grunts while keep fuel needs down, saving that limited “lift capability” for the ammo, food and water that couldn’t be carried on the bikes.

Bicycles are fun and very practical for short distance commuting and even carrying a few groceries. You spend 0.00 on fuel, you get to work out a bit, say hi to the neighbors as you drive by and the good solid ones last forever. They do have the disadvantage of leaving you exposed so they aren’t that great for dangerous areas or times when security is a concern.
The one I got isn’t a fancy mountain bike, but a traditional utility bike like the Cruiser bikes, something your grandma would use. These tend to be more comfortable, with wider seats and you are in a more up right position. That thing almost weights as much as my car but on the bright side its as solid as it can be.  It has mud guards to keep your clothes clean and avoid a line of mud magically appearing along your back (if you never saw the use for these then you never used a bike much!) and I have it fitted with a basket for a couple groceries bags.

Huffy 26-Inch Men's Cruiser Deluxe Bike (Blue)

For civil unrest, roadblocks and protestors I’d avoid those situations like the plague and wouldn’t drive across one with a bike if I could help it, but for short distance transportation they are pretty practical. For larger distances and greater cargo capacity I recommend looking at tricycles. These are used frequently in the third world and its surprising the volume and weight you can sometimes carry in these.

Schwinn Meridian Adult 26-Inch 3-Wheel Bike (Blue)

Take care,


Anonymous said...

I would think a bike could also be used as a foot powered pack mule carrying a lot of groceries or whatever if you walk beside it.

Drive it to the store and walk it home loaded up.

gaga said...

Obviously a motorbike offers the advantages of speed, cargo/passenger capacity and range of a car but with the traffic avoidance ability of a bicycle.

Rona said...

If you're interested in bike survival, I wrote a short article on my own blog. I'm an American living in the Netherlands now and I've read your blog for a few years now. My family has read it a lot longer than me though!!


Anonymous said...

Paying a low price for a cheap bike is just throwing money away. Cheap bikes are cheap because they're made of cheap parts and materials, and assembled by poorly paid store clerks who don't know anything about assembling or tuning mechanical devices.

A $100 Huffy is $100 wasted.

The secret to getting a good bike at a reasonable price is to let someone else pay the full retail price. Check Craigslist, Ebay and their local online and hard-copy equivalents to find good deals on used bikes.

A lot---probably most---of the expensive bikes out there are bought by people who will rarely ride them. They're far more likely to spend 4 or 5 years in a garage or storeroom collecting dust than to be used and abused. Eventually someone is going to either get sick of looking at it and decide to sell it, or make the excuse to themselves that the reason they're not riding hundreds of miles a week and winning races is that they're handicapped by their "old, out of date" bike and then decide to sell it.

So check the used bikes for sale.

But what sort of bike?

Steer clear of road/racing bikes. They're intended to go fast on roads in excellent condition, hauling not much more than someone in a silly spandex suit.

Look at basic mountain bikes. Some "hybrid" bikes may also do.

They're the pickup trucks or Subaru station wagons of the bike world.

Look at bikes using standard wheel sizes, so you can always find tubes and tires. The 26" mountain bike wheel is extremely common and would be your best choice.

Look for a bike that fits you, first and foremost. Then look for one that's about 4 or 5 years old. Look for one with no signs of abuse: no dents in the frame tubes, no rust, no chain-gouges or excessively worn gears/cogs. Wheels should rotate smoothly, with no grinding from the hubs. Cranks should turn smoothly. The front wheel should pivot smoothly at the headset.

Look for parts that can be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated. A bike is a simple machine, just like a gun. And just like a gun, it needs at least some maintenance to remain useful and safe to operate. Look for parts that are assembled with nuts and bolts instead of rivets or glue. Parts made of metal instead of plastic.

Pay a visit to a "real" bike shop and take a look at the high-end bikes. Don't be distracted by the suspension systems or by the salesman's attempts to push this season's gimmick from Shimano. Take a look at the brakes and derailleurs on those highend bikes, and compare them to the cheap junk on the $100 Huffy's at Walomart. Then when shopping for a used bike you'll know what to avoid. You don't need the gold-plated stuff---the Shimano XTR parts or the boutique-line semi-custom parts---but look for the solid well-made parts. Shimano's XT line of parts, for one example.

Anonymous said...


Other things to look for: the "best" (most expensive) bikes are light. Light isn't a bad thing, but light comes at the expense of of durability much of the time. A heavy bike made out of cheap "gas pipe" steel tubing like the $100 Huffy is both heavy and non-durable, but you don't need a featherweight carbon fiber or miracle alloy frame either. Chrome-molybdenum steel alloy---"Chromoly"---is an excellent material for bike frames. Tough, springy and reasonably resistant to corrosion. Strong enough that it can yield a light but strong frame at a reasonable price. Look for a sticker on the frame boasting about being made of chromoly.

Aluminum is another extremely popular frame material, but aluminum does not handle fatigue well. For a pickup-truck of a bike, stick with a steel frame.

It's hard to avoid elaborate suspension forks and even frames these days. But if you're looking for a utilitarian bike they're not necessary and add both complexity (more things to go wrong) and weight to a bike. There's nothing wrong with a traditional non-suspension fork, so long as it's well made of good materials. Look for the chromoly sticker here as well.

Plan on needing to overhaul a newly purchased used bike. Bearings will likely need to be cleaned and repacked, perhaps replaced. Brake pads may be cracked or worn. Chains are likely to be dirty and in need of lube. Brake and derailleur cables may be rusted, stretched or badly out of adjustment. Tubes and tired may need to be replaced. A bike shop can take care of this but that will mean more money out of your pocket.

Alternatively, you can learn to do the maintenance yourself. It's not complicated, and only a few special tools are needed. Basic bike maintenance classes are available from a number of sources. Your local bike shop may offer classes. Likewise community colleges, the local Parks and Recreation Office or local bike clubs.

Anonymous said...

The #1 benefit a bike will have is keeping you fit which fits perfectly with the spirit of this blog.

100 kms+ rides also taught me how to better understand my body and manage the efforts, this is useful.

1-2 hours of daily cycling will turn your average couch potato into a fit person if the motivation is there.

I started cycling a few years ago and went from 110 kg to 90 kg while still eating way too much. Unfortunately for a time I could not ride anymore so I became fat again, lol. But I'm back at it, steadily losing about 2 kg a month.

MTB will even teach you a bit of survivalism (like riding home with a few broken ribs) and pain tolerance (after a while you get used to being flogged with nettles and thorny brambles)...

My home is 20 km away from a large city in France (not Paris). The trip to downtown takes 15 minutes at 4AM, but at rush hour it takes 1 hour by car, most of it spent in traffic jams.

For me it takes about 1 hour by bicycle because of the many hills, with an average (heavy) fitness bike. With a few months training anyone can do that.

Recently I helped a friend move and we carried the heavy stuff up 6 floors of stairs... the cycling buddies and I were jogging up and down, the others were drowning in their sweat, lol.

I would suggest to anyone who wants better fitness, or just to feel great, to try this. Maybe you can, maybe not.

Calculate the time it takes to go to work by car, and your average speed. Probably if you go in the city and there are traffic jams, you won't do much more than 20-30 km/h average speed, and probably less than 20 km/h average downtown.

Then use Google Earth to plan a route that avoids dangerous roads and highways, sticking to small roads.

If you are lucky, your bike trip time will be close to your car trip time. Then, you get free cardio workout without spending time in the gym, save lots of money on gas, lose weight, and generally feel great. If the boss doesn't like sweat, get an ebike, or a shower.

As for the most useful bike, I'd say something rugged and tough yet comfortable.

The most important thing in traffic is to be aware of your surroundings, not look at your knees, so a fitness bike with straight or "mustache" bars and more upright position is much better than a race bike.

The second most important thing is to be able to select the path of least danger, even if it means going through a few obstacles (a bit of gravel road, over a sidewalk border, etc) which means fat tires (Schwalbe Marathons or Big Apples work very well and the kevlar inside stops almost all punctures). Big Apples feel like riding on a deep plush carpet, I like that.

IMHO a bike designed for loaded touring is perfect. With a 36 spokes reinforced rims and fat tires, hitting the a manhole cover that sticks out at high speeds results at worst in a puncture but no breakage or loss of control ; with light race wheels it can be deadly, especially carbon has a tendency to shatter.

As for cruiser bikes as posted above, they are crap. Get a 27 gear bike with a short granny gear like 24-34, that can climb 15-20% slopes easily with 30 kg of stuff in the panniers. Having the right gearing (especially short gears) is healthier for knees, much better for muscle efficiency, and allows more choice of routes (ie, less traffic).

And most importantly, ride it for 10000 kms so it looks like crap, but care for it so it works like new.