How many people could you carry on the turquoise bike?

A sign of maturity in a bicycle culture is the degree to which the bikes suit the riders. At a bike rack in Portland, you see all manner of rides ranging from aluminum comfort bikes, to full-suspension mountain bikes, to 24 speed racers. A lot of them don’t seem practical for daily use, but in Amsterdam, nearly all the bikes seemed quite the opposite.


It’s hard to find a kid’s bike in Portland with fenders, but in Amsterdam, even the tiniest riders will get some, along with a rack and a bell.


As the bikers grow up, there are a variety of increasingly functional options.


Most bikes are black, but every now and then you see something else. All of them are have rear racks, and a majority have a front rack too.


I saw a few bikes built for style and function, but most were just plain old workhorses which are almost always left outside.


Although there are a lot of black bikes, everyone finds some subtle, or not so subtle, way of distinguishing theirs from the crowd.


I saw quite a few purpose-built bikes cargo or kid carrying bikes that were ruthlessly practical. And I did see racing or touring bikes, but never with someone riding them in street clothes.

This bike is loaned to customers who want to bring home-improvement supplies home from a local hardware store.

So, when your town comes of age, the sure sign of maturity is that bikes people ride are the best ones for the conditions, not just the ones that are for sale at the local shop.


3 thoughts on “Maturity

  1. I chose my CX bike on something akin to practicality. I wanted something to ride on long charity rides like the Bike MS150 and something I could slap fenders, racks and camping gear to for a weekend of camping or I could put wider knobby tires back on it for a morning of hilly gravel grinding. Being steel framed and having a bit of clearance over the wheels makes it a little more versatile than the bikes I usually find myself in the company of.

    I do find myself longing for an upright utility bike on occasion. Something a little more modern than my 1950s Hercules 3-speed, but just as much classic character.

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