Gas prices knock bicycle sales, repairs into higher gear

For most people there are only two good reasons to ride a bike: (1) It's just plain fun to be outdoors and (2) It's really good for you. Lots of people talk about biking but this year is different - the price of gas seems to be pushing people to put their money on the table:

Bicycle shops across the country are reporting strong sales so far this year, and more people are bringing in bikes that have been idled for years, he said.

"People are riding bicycles a lot more often, and it's due to a mixture of things but escalating gas prices is one of them," said Bill Nesper, spokesman for the Washington. D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists.


Photo by Sam AzerMany years ago everybody who was seriously interested in biking had a 10 speed racer. Today things have really changed. You can now choose from a vast array of bikes with features that are well worth knowing about. Talk to a pro before you buy. It's also a good idea to spend a few bucks extra for a quality bike - you'll notice the difference.

If you live in the Montreal area I'd like to take this opportunity to put in a good word for the folks at Bicyclettes St-Laurent (two blocks east of the Du College metro station.) I've bought a few bikes from these folks over the years and I've always been impressed with their knowledge, understanding and experience. They took the time to ask me what I wanted the bike for. They explained to me about the different types of frames that are available and they sold me bikes that are able to handle my considerable body weight. Most important for me: they selected a frame type that's a cross between a mountain bike and a touring bike. I can ride my bike in parks and on the street, up steep hills and on dirt trails for hours at a time without getting back-aches. I had to wait a few days for delivery of a frame specially chosen to fit me - but the benefits were obvious once it arrived.

Cycles St-Laurent
1344 Du Collège
Ville St-Laurent
H4L 2L2
Tél: 514-744-1677

Photo by Sam AzerWhile in Kenya a few years ago I bought an inexpensive bike, made In China, which was surprisingly good considering the price. However, the roads in Nairobi are (well, more than a challenge.) The Chinese-made frame was heavy and soft. It got bent-up a few times and was soft enough that it was possible to bend it back. (There was one pot-hole in particular that did quite a bit of damage. I had to put the frame on a big rock and jump on it to bend it back into shape that time.)

The frames that I get from Bicylettes St. Laurent are made out of aluminum. They don't weigh much and they are absolutely solid.

My most recent purchase, a 24-speed GIANT brand bicycle, is just amazing. It's super light, has Shimano gears that shift as smooth as butter and is a joy to ride. Sometimes, when shifting gears thoughtlessly, the chain falls off - so I keep pedaling and the chain just hops back on again! The price at the time was somewhere in the $500 to $600 range. The price doesn't seem to change much from year to year but the quality and features are always improving.

Take the time to find out about the bikes and about the accessories that you can get for them. There is no comparison between the bikes of today and what we used to ride when we were kids in the 70's. If you haven't bought a bike since then you are in for a real treat.

Note also that, if you work in the IT world, you can now get really nice backpacks that can hold a notebook computer and necessary accessories. These days it's possible to ride out to coffee shops, restaurants and parks where you can work through Rogers Portable Internet (or the equivalent from Bell and others.)