Sunday, February 21, 2010

My sister's new bicycle

My sister has recently decided to give this “bicycle thing” a bit of a go. So armed with sound advice from a good friend with an understanding of bicycles more rooted in reality than myself (thanks Jim), we went shopping. The criteria were: budget value (up to $600 AUD), able to commute to & from work (up to 12 km), and decent enough to ride for pleasure and fitness.

I don’t normally look for bicycles that fit real world needs, and especially not in the budget sector. This was a real eye-opener and my word are bicycles cheap! But less than $400 AUD and the quality plunges to depths below that of a year 10 shop student with no thumbs, no coordination, and very probably blind as well. Above the $800 AUD price bracket and things start looking really quite professional with a scattering of hydroformed aluminium frames and decent Shimano or SRAM componentry. The $400-800 price bracket is what I would consider the basic entry-level market and it has a hard ask. Buy a rubbish or badly set-up bike and the less-than-resolute newbie gets turned off cycling altogether. Buy a decent bike and we may well have another cycling convert.

In the end we went for the Kona Smoke for $500AUD. Not too shabby for a competent TIG-welded, butted cromoly frame, decent componentry with 3x8 gears (Shimano Alivio front and Deore (oh my at this price bracket!) rear derailleurs), reliable Tektro brakes, solid aluminium & stainless steel wheelset, and fenders.

Inexpensive + competent + understated + chick riding = ubercool.

And you know what else? It probably rides better than a 1930’s Gloria Garibaldina... (once she gets familiar with the bike and the saddle gets raised to it’s proper height)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Transport Hubs

Brisbane, Australia.

Transport hubs make sense. They are important links connecting bus & train networks (ie public transport) but should also cater for personal transport needs (pedestrian, car and bicycle). Nothing is perfect but this new development outside the Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital is certainly a step in the right direction. Walking or, increasingly, bicycling to work or a transport node is often a sweaty inconvenience. Then you have to find a place to put your bike.

This Cycle Centre (currently one of two in Brisbane - the other is located in the city and connects to rail as well as bus networks) has secure bicycle lockup (24hr surveillance), lockers to stash clothes, shoes & whatnots, showers with fresh towels, hairdryers (!), even a facility to iron your work clothes and a drying room for the smelly sweaty stuff your wore on the way in (it will be smelly for the ride home but at least it's dry). All for AUD $5 per day (casual day rate) or AUD $390 for the year (introductory rate).

May well be the future of sustainable transport...

bus depot on top, cycle/ pedestrian depot below

cycle rack in a five star package

Check out the cycle centre in Brisbane city at
(yeah, it's a bit more costly in the city)