On my usual bike commute through Centennial Park the other day with my panniers and geared hub I couldn’t help feeling a little bike envy as various carbon fibred italian exotics whirred past me.
The bike I’m riding now is about six years old with a rack, panniers, internal geared hub and a handlebar riser. Heavy puncture proof tyres and mudguards complete the picture. It’s a purpose built commuter and it’s slow. And daggy.
Pushing up the hill on Loch Avenue up to Oxford St I’d appreciate a little less weight. When you grind up a long hill your mind tends to drift to ways of making your bike roll a little faster. Thinner tyres? Lighter stem, Single speed?
Then I caught myself asking an important question.
Why do I need to go faster?
One of the reasons I took up commuting was to free myself from the brain deadening bus and rail commute into the city.
Over the years my route has got longer as I’ve chosen back streets and parks over main roads. Each to his own but I find it pretty hard to understand why anyone would want to cycle the shoulder of a freeway or a main road unless you're into danger mixed with a generous helping of tedium and exhaust fumes.
When I started commuting I would time myself, it was fun. Sadly in an attempt to shave a few more seconds off every day I started taking more and more risks. The end of this process was pretty predictable. Crossing an intersection on the amber I was taken out by a car. It was my fault, the light on other side went green before I could make it across.
I considered myself lucky to come out of it with only a broken rib, destroyed bike and hefty repair bill for the car.
Fast is fun, but slow has its own attractions.
  • Your bike will cost less.
  • You do less maintenance
  • If you run heavier tyres you hardly ever get a puncture.
  • You can carry stuff.
  • You get to smell the flowers.
  • You will have less accidents.
  • You will smile more and be better looking.

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Replies to This Discussion


I've been riding my, rather heavy, trike for the last few years and am always amazed how much I get to see on routes I have travelled along prior.  

Yesterday I rode from Sutherland to Wollongong and it was very enjoyable. Average speed? 11 km/h and I enjoyed all 5 hours of it:

  • the views over Audley national park
  • the (all 4) look outs from the escarpment
  • the ride down Bulli pass (ok that was a bit faster)
  • the coast from Bulli onwards
  • etc

There's a blog on crazy guy on a bike by someone who rode all the way from Adelaide to Perth via the NT and the Kimberleys over a period of 18 months. His slogan is '20km is a good day at the office'

Brooza, slow is great when cycling. And safer. Anyway, regardless of the weight of your bike, the fitter you get, the faster you go. One of the best things about cycling is that regardless of traffic you get to you work at more or less the same time every time. Which makes it easy to plan your departure time accordingly and then sit back and enjoy the ride. And the satisfaction of getting up those hills. I'm a big fan of 'going at your own pace'.

Anyway, a few kilos difference in bike weight doesn't make that much difference, if any, on a commute or tour, unless you weigh very little. Comfort is important too, if you want to last the distance.


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