Fenders and Kickstands

Back in the days of bottled Coke, skinny ties, and drive-in movies, my bicycle had a cushy seat, fenders over the wheels and a flip-down kickstand. This fully-equipped tank probably weighed sixty pounds or more, with fat, white-walled tires and a bell I rang to scatter pedestrians and small animals.

At some point in time when I wasn’t paying attention, most of my creature comforts were eliminated. Today, my bike is a mere shadow of the old tank; a race car version of a street car, stripped of creature comforts and anything nonessential that could impede mach speeds. Was the biking world served well by eliminating these features?  Let’s analyze….

I really despise most bike racks. Whoever designs them does not ride bikes and has never attempted to park a bike in one of their racks. The slots are too narrow for your wheel. When I do attempt to wedge my bike onto a crowded rack, (if their bikes are standing up mine should too, right?), I frequently turn away only to hear my bike and a few others crash to the ground behind me. If only bikes had a little metal rod that would flip down and support the bike when you wanted to park; something you could kick down that would make your bike stand…..
My last bike trip was on a humid summer day filled with big puffy white clouds. The puffy white clouds got taller and darker and I got soaked.  I rode in a downpour for twenty minutes before breaking out into sunny dry weather just in time for lunch. As I strolled into the restaurant someone said “nice stripe.” I had a perfect three inch wide stripe of mud up my back from my shorts to the top of my helmet. If bikes just had a shield over each tire that captured the spray off the tires, hmmm…

If I still had my old padded seat I wouldn’t have to wear a padded seat! Am I the only one who feels like I have half the laundry hamper in my shorts when I don my spandex before a ride? It’s like having a diaper on under my shorts. There’s just too much junk under my trunk!  If we’re going to tote the padding along in our shorts, why not make the seats cushy and leave the cushy out of our pants?  Just sayin’…

I am not going to conclude this analysis by advocating for the return of baskets on bikes. Nothing is nerdier than a basketed bike. However, without one, I am forced to wear a fanny pack or backpack if I plan to take anything along other than a phone, wallet, and spare tire.  Baskets and saddle bags may be a fashion faux pas but they fulfilled a need that still exists today.

So don’t be shocked if one day you are cruising down the Comet and hear me ringing my bell to pass on the left. I’ll have a smile on my face from sitting on my big, cushy seat and knowing I do not have a racing stripe up my back. You may want to draft behind me since I’ll be sporting fenders, wider tires, and a backpack on my overweight behemoth that will ensure a big break in the wind. Don’t get jealous when I stop and stand my bike up proudly on my flip-down kickstand wherever I want. You on the other hand will be stuck laying your bike on the ground or parking between those little metal bars and waiting for the crashing sound. I will have progressed back to the fifties!