What Your Bike Says About You

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It’s often claimed that a person’s car says a lot about them – Ferrari owners are often recognised as gregarious extroverts, Camry drivers are sensible, and hybrid drivers are environmentally conscious. Indeed, these are generalisations, but generalisations become so because they’re grounded in some truth. Does this theory extend to bikes? Here’s a light-hearted look at some bikes and the people who ride them.

The Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes are built for rugged action, so people who enjoy the great outdoors and don’t mind taking the risk of a few spills in pursuit of the thrills mountain biking can offer can be seen on these.

The Mama-Chari

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A “mama-chari” is the name given to the millions of simple bikes people ride on the streets of Japan. They’re inexpensive, sturdy and practical with a basket on the front for shopping (sometimes one on the back as well), a maximum of three speeds, a light on the front but not on the back, and occasionally an umbrella clip for wet days. A mama-chari rider is sensible and simply doesn’t care that their bike isn’t the height of fashion or sophistication.

The Fixie

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The vintage fixie – a traditional single-speed upright bike with just a handbrake or two – has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. This is perhaps mainly because it’s become a favoured mode of transport for folks who really know their coffee, dress like their grandparents, and like cool indie musicians well before the rest of us ever hear of them.

The Recumbent

Recumbents are those curious-looking bikes that look like the rider has found the perfect combination of relaxing and exercising at the same time. Recumbent riders are laidback and creative people who have discovered a method of combining their love of colourful Spandex with unhurried commuting and lying down.

The Unicycle

While not a popular choice of transport – for obvious reasons – there is still a niche market for unicycles. Unicycle riders have a supreme sense of balance and crave attention. They’re frequently spotted as circus talent or street performers juggling flaming skittles in front of admiring onlookers. They are also adept at coaxing donations from their audiences.

The Penny Farthing

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Not as common nowadays as during the late 19th century, the penny farthing is the quintessential bike of yesteryear. Named for the large and small wheels resembling the old English large penny and tiny farthing, its riders are recognised for their healthy appetite for danger and utter disregard for safety.

The Road Racer

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Road racers are commonly seen sprinting along urban waterside roads early on weekend mornings, either in small groups or enormous pelotons that shut down regular traffic. Road racers are both people and bikes; the mechanical ones are the latest in lighter-than-air technology and come at the price of a European car, while the human ones are authorities on all manner of biking equipment and apparel. They also have a habit of swamping coffee shops at 10am every Sunday morning following a ride.

Does your current ride match your personality? If not, it might be time to head down to a specialist retailer like 99 Bikes and get a new set of wheels. What does your bike say about you? Is the description above fitting or completely wrong? Share your results and opinions in the comments below.

7 Comments

  1. Jimm Pratt says:

    As always, your posts are a welcome and entertaining read in the early morning just before cycling to work. But I take mock umbrage at the use of “Recumbent riders are laidback and creative people who have discovered a method of combining their love of colourful Spandex with unhurried commuting and lying down.”

    “Laidback and creative” is certainly accurate, but around here (Copenhagen) we don’t wear Spandex with daily use (except the few who race on weekends), and ride recumbents because we regularly get to work faster, not “unhurried”. I wear regular clothes – typically jeans and a t-shirt/pullover – and arrive 5-10 minutes faster than colleagues that start from the same distance. In retrospect, I *guess* you could claim that it is unhurried, as we arrive relatively sweatless – a testament to the efficiency of the recumbent design.

    The lying down part I can’t fault. Colored Spandex? Eww. Just…eww.

    • Steven says:

      Hi Jimm, the actual author may reply to your mock-umbrage. But do you know what I have discovered? Clothes that look like office clothes, that you can ride flat out in as well. Schroller fabric pants, and fine merino and cotton shirts. I hate riding short distances slowly to work. I can’t eat enough free cake with morning tea on arrival.

  2. Nick zintilis says:

    You have forgotten the City Bike,like mine all black with Brooks saddle and handlebars.(and Persols!)

  3. Jason says:

    What of those, not unlike yourself, who have numerous bikes? What does it say about me if I have a mountain bike, a unicycle, a mama chari, a fixie and a road racer? More money than sense? Indecisive? Inability to commit? Or clever enough to realise the most efficient way to get things done is to have the right tool for the job?

  4. Ian S says:

    Or the pub bike. Mine is cold galv silver 1920’s mens frame, 1950’s british racing green (with pin stripes) 37×642 coaster brake rear wheel, 1960’s cold galv silver 37×642 front wheel, red 1960 Malvern Star 2-star ladies fork with extra thread for the mens frame, 1950’s unisex comfort bars and a dodgy saddle with chunks missing from it. Looks bloody awful but rides like a dream.

    BTW, I ride ‘bent, fixed or 3-speed, preferably older than 1980 (except ‘bent) and not plastic. I guess I’ve got a split personality.

  5. crank says:

    I searched for ‘Penny Farthing’ on 99bikes and they DON’T EVEN SELL ONE. I am OUTRAGED I tell you!

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