What bike conveys your nation’s spirit?

To say the Japanese like collecting Colnagos, or that the British love Bromptons, is like saying the Dutch go for bikes without a few wheel nuts. There are no points for stating obvious facts. What I would like to do is stereotype a few countries that have been going under the radar, or actively hiding the existence of a typical bike— one that betrays the national spirit.


For example I’ll tell you that the quintessential American bike is handmade from the most incongruous materials (so long as they’re locally sourced), then built up with thousand-dollar components from Chris King, Phil Wood, Joe Blogs and any other legendary name in alo-o-ominum buffing. It will carry a guarantee that no part was airflow, shipped, or  even trucked, but was gathered by the frame maker himself, wearing hillbilly get-up, on his regular rounds visiting family owned components manufacturers throughout Tennessee, Colorado and Stratford-upon-Avon, riding a long-john.

NAHBS-2012-Metrofiets-bakfiets-cargo-bike01Meanwhile, in Singapore, the snow bike fashion of 2013 has given way to the sled bike fashion of 2014. To an outsider looking at a tropical island this may seem perplexing, but to the Singaporean who has not stepped out of a shopping arcade to check the weather since the late nineteen-nineties, owning a sled bike is no stranger than any of the thousands of ways one might demonstrate that they are not trapped on an island, by buying things from off of that island.

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Australians, meanwhile, make no choices of their own when it comes to buying a bike. They let their mate Dave introduce them to a third mate called John, who owns a bike shop and who will look after them if they mention Dave’s name. John has taken good care of all of his good Aussie mates’ mates, fixing them up with full carbon Specialized road bikes with Zipp wheels and SRAM red components. That’s the minimum requirement to do Amy’s Ride. What’s Amy Ride? Think of it as the Australian cycling community’s annual expression of helplessness. Whether trusting shop keepers to not rip us off, trusting drivers to go around us, not through us, or trusting British military commanders not to sacrifice our lives in Gallipoli, misplaced investments of trust are all just a part of the ANZAC tradition.

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