What Your Bike Says About You

bike graphics

Graphic designed by Aaron Kuehn

First of all, let us admit that the title of this article is definitely not the most original one for a Firefly Brigade website but we beg you to indulge us and suspend your disbelief or dissent for the duration of the time it takes to read this article and consider what it means. Most of you, especially if you have a car and are fond of forums and websites that deal with cars, would have read an article with a similar title but referring mainly to cars. So following their lead, let us ask now: does the bike you ride actually say anything about the real you or is it just a coincidence that your 29er x-large size full-suspension bike frame is an accurate reflection of your manliness? It may really be not just about the bike but have you ever wondered if the bike makes the man? We may not have the demographics now that will show what type of bike is being ridden by what type of people (both male and female) but maybe a simple cursory investigation of bikers during a busy morning may tell us something about this phenomenon.

share the road

Whether you are in your car waiting for the car in front of you to move or riding your bike to work, you could see bikers, especially early in the morning, going and coming on either directions. You could assume that they are either going to work or just making an easy morning exercise ride. Go to the UP Oval on any given morning for example, and you can see a mix of bikers and runners going their merry way around. You would see security guards, students, employees and others with colorful jerseys printed with logos of brands or products they may not even know about. You could easily tell who is going to work or classroom and who are there for their leisurely morning ride. Some are obviously there to lose weight, maintain weight or just to show others that they are there to be seen.


Those who bike to work would have bikes that have more function than form...It would not be unusual for them to have a saw, a crow bar or a piece of wood tied to their top tube. Some of their bikes will have a basket in front or a rack at the rear


Let's Play a Game

Let’s try to look at the type of bikes they have and make a guessing game out of it. We may fall into the error of stereotyping but let’s just say were having fun. A new shiny bike? We will have to see the brand, year model, accessories - ah yes, just like a car - to make our final judgment. Make way for those who have Cannondales, Treks, and Giants for these are the most well-known brands. But there are others equally famous abroad but not necessarily here such as Cervelo, Haro, Schwinn, Diamondback and Jamis. These brands carry both mountain bikes and roadies so there you have another way to classify our riders. Mountain bikes and road bikes are a world apart although they may share some distant bike DNAs. Genuine Shimano top of the line parts or generic ones that will last a lifetime only if you don’t use them? You can tell if the biker has money to spare or can just barely spend for a part that will work on his bike for at least six months by the group set he has installed. How about those pre-loved Japanese bikes that are slowly becoming popular among the masses? Ask around for those who have their newly bought folding bikes (Brompton comes to mind and it's a really expensive one), BMX bikes, cruiser, comfort city bikes, hybrids, easy-rider (a throwback to the 80's.) You should try to ride a tandem bike alone and then later see if you can handle fixed gears or single speeds. Kenda or Leo tires? This is like comparing Frito Lay with Clover Chips. If you have money to spend on a carbon fiber frame then certainly you can afford a Cateye cyclocomputer and the best model of hydraulic disc brakes.


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The Firefly Brigade is a non-stock, non-profit, and SEC-registered citizen’s volunteer action group formed in 1999 to work for clean air and a habitable, people-friendly environment in our cities...

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You have to look into the bike’s setup to determine whether the owner is full of testosterone or estrogen. But it’s really hard to tell especially if the bike is built for speed. For some, speed means more testosterone, which makes it a man’s bike. But we know of many female competitive cyclists so it’s not an exclusive male dominated area anymore. A bike fully equipped with top brand accessories will never be a chick-magnet, unlike a similarly bedecked car which will surely attract more females than rotting meat attracts files. But among bikers, it will certainly be a crowd-drawer

kennedy quote

Those who bike to work would have bikes that have more function than form. They will tend to have bikes that reflect their income brackets – this is hard to accept but it’s true. You can see them bunched together at intersections, patiently waiting for the light to turn green or some who would have gone ahead even if the light is still red. It would not be unusual for them to have a saw, a crow bar or a piece of wood tied to their top tube. Some of their bikes will have a basket in front or a rack at the rear. The luckier ones would have working front and/or rear brakes, front and/or rear derailleur, oiled chains, decent generic saddle, no lights, worn out pedals, and rusted frame whose paint can barely be discerned because of the grime and dirt that have accumulated on the surface for a long time. None of them will have original bike frames mentioned above but certainly many of them will have bikes carrying fake logos of those well known brands. Of course, you won't see hydraulic disc brakes nor a cyclocomputer in their bikes.

In the end, we have not made any conclusions at all. But still, what does your bike really says about you? At the end of the day, whatever it says doesn’t matter although all our collective voice will, if we can somehow influence our lawmakers to pay attention to what we ask of them to make our roads safer for bikers.

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