Old 02-05-12, 08:22 PM
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bluegoatwoods
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I agree with most of the op's thoughts, but I do have a different definition of a "fred". I don't think that freds are those who ride because they have no other choice. Those poor folks are not hard to recognize; if you see someone riding on under-inflated tires, seat set too low and with nothing in the way of clothing or accessories that is bicycle or outdoor oriented, then you're seeing someone who is riding because they have no choice. You can't see it, of course, but you can bet that their derailleur is so badly out of adjustment that they have two or three usable gears or, perhaps, it's frozen solid leaving only one usable gear. These poor guys don't know and don't care to learn how to fix these things.

A fred, on the other hand, is someone who believes in bicycles as practical transport. His bike has cargo racks and mirrors and other aerodynamically incorrect attachments. Some 'roadies' look down on us for this. And we look down on them for their adherence to form over substance. But a fred is a true bicyclist in any case, as opposed to the 'no choicers'.

As for local bike shops most only stay in business on what they can sell to teenagers and twenty-somethings. Old goats like us just don't pay the bills. Are they foolish for treating us like they don't want our business? Of course. But you'll find similar foolishness in all walks of life. The minority who love all bikes and riders are kindred spirits to us. They are jewels who should be cherished by those lucky enough to be nearby. But we don't actually need them; anyone who can keep a bicycle up-and-running in the real world can live without a bike shop. Though there is a price to pay and that is that we must give up on the high-end bikes, parts and accessories and get along with generic stuff.

But it's much easier than it sounds. The bargain-basement stuff is just fine. This is coming from someone who has experienced both. I've had better bikes. One, in particular, was getting into the "pretty impressive" range amongst the crowd I was in at the time (bike messengers). It was a nice bike, a real pleasure to ride and it lasted me a long time. But it was annoying to find that replacement parts were no longer in production and that I had to make do with what my mechanic could make work.

These days I ride a Roadmaster from Wal-Mart. Doesn't sound too impressive, does it? But I've been riding this one (more days on than off) for nearly five years now. It's endlessly adaptable and adjustable. I have frames and parts to last me a lifetime. I haven't payed for any of it. I pick 'em up off the curbs in my neighborhood. (Trash, not theft, by the way) And I don't need a bike shop to do any of the work needed.

Perhaps I'm in the minority on this (?), but above all a bicycle should cost next to nothing to maintain. That's one of the charms of bicycles. One of the more major charms, I'd say.
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