The United States was once a nation of bicycle riders. Americans loved bikes so much, in 1895, they owned 10 million of them. But these bikes started rusting into oblivion with that first sniff of the intoxicating aroma of car exhaust. Yep, a love affair with cars almost killed the bike. Almost.
Total U.S. Cars
1898: 30 cars
1900: 8,000 cars
1920: 8.1 million cars
1950: 40.3 million cars
1970: 89.2 million cars
1990: 133.7 million cars
2005: 136.6 million cars
But the wheels on the bike go round and round. According to a recent story in The Economist, worldwide bike sales and manufacturing are upshifting big-time. (Lame, I know.)
The article states, “Europeans mainly use bikes for commuting, but have the odd habit of ignoring [commuter bikes] in favour of sleeker, faster models which are then expensively modified. Americans prefer off-road BMX trail bikes."
Given this good news, I hate to be critical of American bike-buying habits. But here goes: Are off-road bikers the lowest form of life in the biking world?
After all, two of the primary reasons people buy bikes are a wish to save money by not buying gas and a desire to save the planet by not burning gas. But bikers who drive to a trail defeat both of those purposes.
Why not hearken back to the mindset of those original, high-wheeling bicyclists? If they wanted to ride a bike, they rode it.