In 1989, describing my Oxford road racing bike for the November issue of Bicycling Magazine in the story “What the Editors Ride,” I wrote, “Good bicycles turn effort into emotion. They provide the means to reach, and sometimes exceed, your potential. On a fine bike you can ride better than you ever thought possible and catch glimpses of extraordinary athletic prowess you didn’t realize you had. The experience is inspirational and addictive. You long to sustain it.”
I still feel that way. But, even pumping a one-speed cruiser around town at 10 mph is magical to me — the breeze, the feeling of flight with a tailwind or downhill, the joy of zig-zagging or skidding to a stop. The great freedom of being able to go pretty much anywhere you can pedal with little effort and no harm to anything or anyone.
Sometimes people come into my garage bike workshop and house, see all the bicycles and just don’t get it. “Why do you need all these bikes?” they ask. I don’t know how you can explain it to someone who hasn’t been bitten by the bike bug, but I usually ask them if they play a musical instrument or read. If they say yes, I then ask them, “You don’t have only one guitar or one book, do you?” Once in a while someone gets the point: every bike is different and if you’re crazy about two-wheelers you’ll eventually amass quite a collection because it’s very cool having the right ride for every purpose.
So here, I describe some of the wonderful bikes I’ve been fortunate enough to own, ride or encounter as a road test editor for cycling magazines. Some are models you’ll find in bike shops. Others, you’d have to search a long time to find. All of them are keepers in my book.
Note: If you’re buying a new bicycle and aren’t sure which type to buy (or you know someone who is), you should read (or pass along) my How to Buy a Bike stories. And you don’t want to miss William Hudson’s definitive bicycle-history article Myths and Milestones in Bicycle Evolution; and the entertaining bicycle-history slide show at the bottom of this page.
— Antique Bikes —
While featherweight carbon flyers and super-travel all-mountain suspension bikes dominated Interbike, the largest bicycle show in the world this year, the showstopper for me was . . . (more)
In the heyday of highwheel bicycles, also known as “ordinaries” or “high bicycles,” the Coventry Machinists’ Company in Coventry, England was one of the most innovative . . . (more)
— All-Around Bikes —
In my book, a vacation isn’t much of a vacation without daily rides exploring the area. For this, I strongly recommend a travel bicycle, such as the Airnimal Chameleon . . . (more)
I spent a week in early April of 1998 riding dual-suspended bikes in and around Bradford-on-Avon, England, where Alex Moulton lives and builds his ingenious Moulton bicycles . . . (more)
In 1990, I set a short-term goal of riding every day and a long-term goal of cycling daily for ten consecutive years. Each ride had to be a real ride, which to me means getting suited up and putting in at least an hour of fitness-pace miles. I’d heard of a runner named Ron Hill who actually ran twice a day for over twenty years, so I knew it was possible. Yet, I figured it would be tougher to bike every day because it requires a place to ride, a proper bicycle . . . (more)
Everyone should own such a practical bicycle . . . (more)
— Concept Bikes —
Feast your eyes on this Italian masterpiece . . . (more)
— Racers —
After racing only on my Cervélo road bike, I decided to get back into time trial racing. And being well aware of Cervélo’s winning record in races against the clock around the world, from professional road events to . . . (more)
They say that as you age you become more content with what you have and less likely to feel the need for change — be it upgrading your Sylvania for a plasma, trading in your Camry for a Prius, or replacing that steel, aluminum or . . . (more)
You’ll pay $5,200 to $5,400 to get a spanking new Litespeed Vortex built with top-line Shimano Dura-Ace or Campagnolo Record components. That’s a lot of money for a ten-speed. But a Litespeed Vortex isn’t just any bicycle . . . (more)
As a graduation present, in June of 1971, my grandmother gave me ninety-five dollars and I immediately walked down to Ozzie Waite’s bike shop . . . (more)
In the seventies Austro-Daimler released one of the nicest 10-speed catalogs ever . . . (more)
— Recumbents —
Rain or shine, every Saturday in Santa Cruz, California at eight AM sharp, a training ride for roadies takes place. It’s called, appropriately enough, The Saturday Morning Ride and it’s been a tradition for over forty years. I’ve been on this ride a few times. It’s a rush. When the weather’s good the group can exceed a hundred athletes including Olympic hopefuls and professionals. The leisurely promenade through town gradually becomes an all-out dash fifteen miles down the road. It’s difficult and prestigious to win this sprint, a high-speed affair thanks to the big pack and the long gradual downhill at the ride’s end . . . (more)
My favorite loop is called Smith Grade. It covers only twenty-seven miles but includes two thousand feet of elevation gain; five miles of climbing on a dirt road with sand, gravel, mud, roots and rocks; several stomach-tickling corkscrew descents; a five-minute 50-mph plunge to the coast; and a ten-mile finishing stretch, almost always blessed by gale-like tailwinds . . . (more)
— Three-Speeds —
I’m the guardian of this 1938 Rudge 3-speed. It ended up in my possession when a friend decided he had no more room . . . (more)
— Bicycle History —
Be sure to read William Hudson’s Myths and Milestones in Bicycle Evolution