Thursday, July 10, 2014

Appropriate Bicycles

In Defying Poverty with Bicycles I explain why bikes designed for sport and fitted with complex parts are not appropriate for bicycle programs meant to help people who are struggling in poverty.

Sport bikes are fragile, using materials like carbon fiber and lightweight metals that crumble under hard daily use. Their geometry and short wheelbases are designed for quick maneuvers, not transport and certainly not carrying loads. Any shocks, fancy brakes, and other racing gadgets break under hard use leaving such bikes useless.

Steel framed bikes with long wheelbases, durable and replaceable parts, racks and fenders are the basic idea of appropriate bikes for people who depend on them for their daily needs. As an example, here’s a photo of a wonderful Czechoslovakian-made bike I rode around Europe last summer:

 What are your thoughts about appropriate bicycles? Do you know of affordable cargo bikes? Have you had good luck retrofitting sport bikes to become transportation bikes? Please offer your experiences and ideas in the comments box.

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