Watching all of the recent natural disasters have made me realize that now it's more important than ever to have a plan for fuel shortages. We will still need transportation. Bicycles are another way of traveling through an area when cars can't, and I have built myself one in case SHTF.
People have been asking me the following question, "Curt, what is the best kind of bicycle I should buy?” If you don’t know a lot about bicycles then let me tell you there are so many different types that it can make your head spin and to list them all would take longer than the length of this page. The main types that I will be discussing are single gear fixies, comfort bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, cyclocross bikes, and road bikes.
The single gear fixies are the classic single gear bicycle which many of us had when we were children. These were like the old cruiser with the large comfortable seat. While they can carry a large load, they are only one speed. They are great if you have a short distance to cover but anything over 3 to 5 miles is going to be a long day trip on one. A fixie is a heavier bike and weighs approximately 35 lbs.
Comfort bikes are like single gear fixies but with one difference-- they have gears and some of them even have suspension like a mountain bike. These are better if you have a longer distance to travel like 5 to 10 miles, but their downside is the gear ratio. The gears on most comfort bike are to be easy to pedal but don’t yield a high speed. Even though they are faster than fixies, they are not all that fast, and sometimes you may need speed. Like the fixie, the weight of a comfort bike can be heavy-- most coming in at a weight around 35 lbs.
Mountain bikes are the most popular bicycle in the USA. If you look around in your own neighborhood more than likely most of the bikes you'll see will be mountain bikes. They are popular for several reasons. First, they are great on and off the pavement and can climb many hills. Many of them have front suspension which people believe makes the ride softer which has some truth, but not totally. The other reason they are so popular is you can go to any of the big retail stores across the USA and buy them for $100 up to $2000 and walk out the front door with it. Also, many people believe they are the most comfortable bike to ride, however, this is not true. Any bike is comfortable to ride if you have the right equipment like padded shorts or seat. The speed on a mountain bike is good and can give you a quick getaway, but most mountain bikes usually do not have a free rolling bearing in the rear wheel. In other words, to keep up the speed you must pedal at the same speed. You can cover a long distance with a mountain bike which is usually around 20 to 40 miles or more. Mountain bikes tend to be on the heavy side weighing in around 30 to 35 lbs.
Hybrid bikes are bicycles that have thinner tires like a road bike but the robust frame of a mountain bike. Hybrids are a great choice for SHTF because they can go over rough terrain like a rough road without damage, and they can give you great speed like a road bike. Many hybrid bikes look like a road bike, but they will have straight handlebars, not the drop handlebars like a road bike has. The tires on a hybrid also tend to be larger widths around the 30c to 40c to handle the rougher conditions they are used on. Some people think they are uncomfortable to ride because they tend to have small seats like a road bike, but like I said earlier, if you have the right equipment like padded shorts, you don’t feel any pain. Hybrids have gears and the ratio of the gears can be the same as mountain bikes or larger, and with the combination of the width of the tires being smaller and the gears, you can really pick up the speed and cover a distance of 50 miles or more.
Cross bikes or Cyclocross bikes are my choice for the SHTF. These bikes are like hybrids but look more like a road bike. The cyclocross bike will have a beefier frame to handle the off-road conditions where it can be rougher. The tires are little wider than a road bike but smaller in size than a hybrid-- somewhere around 28c to 35c. These bikes, just like hybrids have a rear free rolling bearing in them so when you get up to speed, all you have to do to maintain that speed over a long distance is to pedal at a lower cadence. Cyclocross bikes are heavy weighing around 25 to 30 lbs.
The road bike is the lightest bike of them all usually weighing in at 25 lbs or under depending on the material it is made from. Road bikes have many gears starting off at a base gear system of 21 gears and going up to a 30 gear system on some bikes. The tires tend to be small-- most coming in at 25c on average, but they can get as thin as 15c and as wide as 28c. For this reason, I would not like to have a road bike for SHTF because the roads are not going to be maintained, and they are just going to get rougher as time goes on. The road bike is great for the long distance trips of 100 miles or more, and many of them can be fitted with racks to accommodate carrying bags to carry gear in. With a road bike, getting up to speed is easy which can be easier to maintain over long distances.
This is just a short overview of the main different types of bikes that are a good choice for SHTF. Check out my video for more information. If you are thinking of getting a bicycle for when SHTF, do your research and go to your local bike shop and test each type out to see which bike will be best for you. After you get your bike, take it out and ride now to get used to riding it. Set a goal distance that you want, and work to consistently making it. If you wait until the SHTF to ride that bike, then you are going to be in a world of hurt, and I mean it literally!
The Second Amendment Advocate and Avid Cyclist
See you on the road!