Little Jack's Corner Redux
The article was written in 2012, and since then technology has marched forward. The support of choice for geezers these days are electric bikes, which are the fastest selling segment of the bike market. Electric bikes provide continuous support, and even allow you to sprint up steep hills. When geezers start to experience medical issues on hilly rides, it may be time for a change. When the strictly human-powered effort stops working, geezers may need motor power to climb the hills, and compensate for the difficulties that come with age. Many geezers are grateful for this technology to keep them riding.
Now that the baby boomers are a major demographic, bicycle makers really need to redesign their bikes for that market. I’m sure Madison Avenue can come up with a better marketing name, but for now I’ll refer to the new model as the geezer bike.
One thing a geezer bike needs for sure is a triple. Many of us that had bikes in the glory days sporting corncob freewheels (and I do mean freewheel) can’t push those gears any more. Even triples are hard to come by these days with the advent of the compact crank. The compact crank is a communist plot to make people think they can get away with just two chainrings. The gen-x/y/z riders may have no problem with this, but we geezers know it’s not called a granny gear for nothing, and if you do the math you can see that no way is a compact crank going to match a triple. For you engineering types gear inches (measure of how far you go per crank revolution) should be inversely proportional to age. You can still get up the same hills, just much much slower. At some point you might as well just get off and walk, but from personal experience, I’ve determined that you can ride about 1.5 mph without falling over (and you don’t have to unclip). Unfortunately my bike computer can’t handle these extremes so it usually shows a speed of zero, somewhat discouraging, but not far from the truth.
Handlebars are another sore point for geezers. We all remember the prime directive of having a flat back when you ride, but we ancients can no longer comfortably hunker down on the bars with our knees nearly grazing our chest. So drop bars are a thing of the past for our generation. The bicycle industry is on this one, having invented the hybrid some time ago with those upright bars. So instead of the rule of thumb that the bars should be one inch below the top of the saddle, we go the other way.
Which brings us to saddles. Gone are the days when we happily traversed hundreds of mile on brick hard saddles, made out of unyielding (but light) substances. We need something more akin to the barco-lounger, or a saddle with a secret. The secret is that it is designed for comfort, not performance.
Performance is not a issue with geezers. Gone are the days of trying to be a contender, the geezer is now happy just being pack fodder. In the early days, when each ride was a new personal best, it was interesting to measure your progress. There’s a large overlap of cyclists and techno-geeks, who outfit their bikes with all manner of technology, watt-meters, gps-training things that let them go home and make spreadsheets of their rides. We geezers realize that we are over the hill (literally) and are on the down slope of the performance curve. So there is no percentage in outfitting your bike with all manner of devices that just serve to tell you how much slower you’re going. The geezer bike should have none of these depressing doodads. The only useful geezer device is a GPS, since geezers tend to be easily confused. I have to admit I’ve been in this condition long before geezerhood set in. That and a cell phone as a backup when they forget to change the batteries in the GPS.
This article originally appeared in WheelPeople in December 2012. The triple crankshaft image was added.