A thinking man’s companion to the latest issue of Treadlie

Here’s a blog post entirely comprised of reactions to the latest issue of Treadlie. I know a lot of Australian urban cycling believers subscribe to this magazine, as do many architects. I can’t be the only one who feels just a little let down by the breezy thinness sometimes lining these pages. Okay, so it’s a magazine, not a peer reviewed journal, but surely I’m not alone in sensing the editors have found a formula that works for readers whose personal reconnection with cycling is still fairly new, but have hit a brick wall when it comes to engaging those of us who have moved well beyond that honeymoon phase. Perhaps all Treadlie needs, is a thinking man’s companion? Go get a cuppa, put your issue 9 copy beside you, as let’s proceed from the cover now, shall we?

Cover: Paul Smith. How does a fashion designer get 280,000+ likes to his Facebook page? I believe I was liker number 287,905. Like most sane people who care not a lick for fashion labels, I discovered Paul Smith via Rapha. Then I discovered the Paul Smith store beneath Singapore Hilton on Orchard road, with 65% end-of-season discounts on beautifully cut clothes, made in Italy from the softest of fabrics. I’m fortunate that work trips have meant 4 or 5 subsequent trips. I would fairly say, I am hooked. And how can I not say he is cool? Most of us can only dream of being so cool at his age. Correction. Most of you can only dream of being so cool at his age. I buy his clothes, and unlike most of my readers, I trim my ear hair.

p.8. Another Australian product trying to compensate for the absurdity of mandatory helmet laws. I cringe seeing this, as I cringe when I see a helmet by Yakkay. No one asks if helmet covers or liners designed to make you look better, or leave your hair looking better, aren’t making helmets even more dangerous. Counterintuitive though it may seem, there is a potential for helmets to do more harm than good in some falls, by rotating the head. Here’s a paper to read on the subject. If you’re commuting slowly to work or a party and are worried about helmet hair, can I recommend conscientious objection as a good look for you?


p.9. Panniers that turn into a picnic table and chairs. Brilliant! Where do you buy them? Nobody knows! All we know is where treadlie downloaded the photos.

p.12. Newcastle Bikefest, woohoo! Somewhat derivative of Melbourne’s event, but with the promise of making you feel as though you have discovered something no one else knows about. Lonely Planet identified Newcastle for precisely that reason, and three years later, it is forgotten again and ready to be discovered by you. This time around, go because Newcastle’s bike modal share grew from 1.6% of all trips, to 2.5% between the 2006 and 2011 census dates, and because that figure would be much higher if crappy outlying suburbs weren’t arbitrarily counted within Newcastle’s borders (something only you understand, because you are privy to “Newcastle the secret”). Within the sphere of eminently affordable suburbs, all within 5km of the beach and the city, I would estimate inner Newcastle has a bike modal share of at least 5%, with hotspots like Carrington and Maryville creeping up toward 10%. If everyone in Australia who cared about liveable cities, just moved to Newcastle, they would find themselves in one. So why not let next year’s event occasion a day long drive in your Hummer, to see for yourself?

p. 15 The roll-up suit bag that you wear like a messenger bag over one shoulder, aka, “wingman“. I was looking at these at the Salamanca  Markets in Hobart just recently. The only drawback is a laptop will not fit inside, at least not with ease. Or maybe it would? I guess I should buy one, and put it through its paces during my European and American book tour in the new year.

p.18. I predict that within a few years there will be more books about classic bikes in bookstore clearance bins than you currently find about classic Ferraris or fighter planes. But there are more beautiful bikes, and they’re for sale, to gaze at on Italian eBay. Why fill out toilet shelves with these books? Primrose, there is no need to wrap a copy Racing Bicycles, 100 Years of Steel and place it under our Christmas tree with a label marked “dad”. A few inner tubes will be fine.

p. 28. I will not be inspired to build myself a French Randonneur. I refuse! I’ve done the sums and I know I will have to spend three million dollars at velo orange before it is finished. And I would rather use the time spent shopping on-line for tiny front racks and hammered fenders, and fooling around in the shed, actually riding hundreds of kilometres out in the country, as I am happily doing already on a perfectly adequate bike built for racing. Granted, the story in Treadlie follows the making of a thoroughly edible bike. Personally, I would rather just buy one, most likely from Portland where they have better access to labour and parts and actually sell bikes just like this for less than I could build one for myself in Australia.

p. 32. Who in the name of Princess Kate and her morning sickness is Sarah Ward? Have I subscribed to a bike magazine or New Idea?

Any man’s dream bike, by Kumo Cycles

p. 38. Now I feel like I’m subscribing to Playboy! Is that a perfectly equipped stainless road tourer? I believe so. Or is it? Why not disc brakes? This is the problem with “perfect” bikes, conveyed with no expense spared by custom frame builders like Kumo Cycles. There will always be something wrong with them, one day. (Oh god I’m churlish tonight! Someone in my own country is making bikes I could kneel down and pray to, and I question them not using discs?)

p.54. A neat piece on what bikes can do for the city, so neat I would like to run it through turnitin (a website we academics use to check that a piece of text isn’t plagiarised). Stories like these are as elegant as arguments for Australia to become a republic, or for higher fuel taxes, or for a fair go for asylum seekers. They have the tone of a new political left who aren’t anti government, but who make inroads into government, then sneer at the ignorant views of the masses who vote. No more than 5% of trips are made by bike in Australian cities, because no more than 5% of us will ever care enough about our own health, or the greater good, to work through the tough changes required to make cycling habitual. Let’s not talk about bikes solving emissions, public health or congestion, until we have an actual plan to make cycling more appealing than driving or transit, for the 95% of people who act on impulse.

p. 56. I donated twenty bucks toward the cost of making that photo. Yay me!

p.58. A story on chainrings. Now this is precisely the kind of odd-ball surprise that makes my subscription worthwhile. I’ve been praying to a non-interventionist god for a year now, for someone to bring me an old deluxe crankset with the tiniest chainring. My pathracer project will start on that day. I would never think to search the web for chainring inspiration, so thank Treadlie for bringing it to me like manna. You see, I have a very nice set of stainless steel wheels with hub brakes, the rear one equipped with a highly geared Nexus hub. That rear wheel is useless until either I find myself a very small chainring, or a very very huge one indeed, for my next land speed record attempt.

I do hope no-one at Treadlie is too offended, but moreover hope fellow subscribers to Treadlie found my commentary at once entertaining and educational.


  1. tim says:

    Great critique, mirrors my thoughts on the mag but I’ll keep subscribing anyway. Any Aus mag that consistently has photos of helmet less riders is worth supporting and they don’t receive or at least print the letters complaining about those photos as say Ride On readers seem to do.

    Disc brakes and tourers with traditional curved forks don’t play nice together, thats why you don’t and probably won’t see them very much. I and many other framebuilders simply will not put the two together however much a customer might want them.

    • Steven says:

      thanks Tim, for that critique of the critique. I’ll be subscribing as well. I watched how they went quickly from a first issue with lots of white paper, to a 3rd issue jammed packed, and have kept it up. And you’re right about the highly informed editorial position as well. Now how do I delete your final remarks that show I know nothing about matching the right brakes to sweeping forks?

  2. tim says:

    Don’t worry about deleting your comment, as they do exist. Surly have just brought out a disc Long Haul Trucker with curved fork blades, the left hand blade must have been made especially for them to be able to resist the braking forces that have bent or even broken the heaviest gauge Reynolds fork blades.

    • Steven says:

      My bakfiets needs disc brakes. I note the front fork has a braise-on tab which I guess is there for that reason? Not sure. Meanwhile I have to ask junior to walk down some of these hill here in Launceston.

  3. tim says:

    The forks are short fat and beefy on your bakfiets I bet.

  4. Kumo Keith says:

    Try Paul Racer Centerpull brakes and then ask me why I didn’t build my stainless bike with disc brakes!

    • Steven says:

      Not sure how I would get to try them, but will trust you they work. I can see they look the business. Thanks for leaving a comment! Your bikes are rockin’

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