The Nubrella and other cycling news

Tip of the pen to the Cycling Advocacy Network who provided me with most of these links.

First off – welcome to the Nubrella – a hands-free umbrella you can wear while cycling. So long, as CAN says, “you don’t mind looking like you’ve been partially devoured by a giant transparent caterpillar”.

So will the Nubrella revolutionise cycling in NZ? Well, I don’t like to be pessimistic about its chances but a lot of cycling advocates believe strongly that the perception you can’t “cycle and look normal (or be normal)” is one of the main barriers to cyclists getting started. That’s why bloggers like Unity Finesmith and groups like Frocks on Bikes are so keen to push the message that cyclists can be stylish.

Would you wear a nubrella?

In other cycling news

* The British government has just released an Active Travel strategy which aims to make 2010 -2020 the “Decade of Cycling”. Among other initiatives they want to provide cycle training to every child in Britain. Isn’t that a great aspiration?

* In possibly related news John Key recently had a good time on his bike at St Mary’s school in Hastings. He was there because Paul McArdle, a wealthy donor, has just given 62 new bicycles to the school and installed several cycle tracks around the school in an effort to encourage cycling. While right now this new Bikes in Schools initiative is being driven privately perhaps if it is successful the government will take the plunge and decide to invest in rolling it out to more schools around NZ.

* And finally, a new study just published by NASA suggests that on-road transportation is/will be the biggest global contributor to climate change in the short-term. A compelling argument for more investment in the active modes (cycling and walking) you might think…

9 Comments Posted

  1. A few YouTube videos of how bicyclists in various countries deal with riding in the rain:
    In Japan I found the custom of using a large $5.00 transparent umbrella rested between my basket and my forehead most efficacious against both warm summer downpours and freezing winter blizzards.
    Having a large plastic poncho pegged over the basket was even better.
    ( see the video from China )
    Bicycles in Japan are always fitted with mud and chain-guards which greatly reduce spray from the wheels and the road and help to ensure that cycling in the rain is still practicable.
    Cyclists in New Zealand are deprived of the cycling technologies that would make cycling in all weathers as practicable as it is elsewhere.
    ( i.e. in the non-anglo world ) See:

  2. If you want to put someone off cycling, buy them a cheap steel-framed bike that doesn’t quite suit them…


  3. Having had a few experiences of biking in the rain and wind in Welli, I might balk at the prospect of wearing something that might just propell me skywards in a southerly gust.
    I also preferred to rely on rainjacket & motorcycle waterproof trousers on wet journeys, altho’ I admit to using buses on really stormy weather days.

    I bought my bike second-hand, (and then on-sold it ‘third-hand’) but have had reasonable experience with local retailers getting helmet, shoes, clothes, etc, to go with the bike. Kathmandu became my gear supplier of choice in the end, because I could ususally get good gear at discount in the sales – I’m a fairly regular size.

    But the suburban cycle shops were pretty good, too, and a lot of stuff I bought ten years ago both still fits, and still works (altho’ the jury’s prolly out on my helmet!), on the odd occasion that I borrow a mate’s bike & go for a ride these days.

    I’d quibble with you about buying your first bike from a dealer who wasn’t a sports/cycle retailer (unless you’re talking for a primary school child) – the first bike I bought for myself was a ten-speed ladies’ racing bike, from a sports dealer in Palmerston North, for which I saved up from my part-time jobs at High School.

    I got really good support from the dealership, and had a great time on my zippy bike. It wasn’t my first bike, my parents had bought me children’s bikes, but it was my first fast, grown-up bike. I was taught how to fix simple stuff like chain breaks or derails, and learned how to do simple maintenance.

    When I went back to cycling in my thirties, that early experience of being treating sensibly by the cycle workshop guys meant that I asked maintenance questions expecting to get sensible answers, and was confident to get my own set of bike tools, spare inner tubes, tyre repair kit, and know how to use them.

    My most recent bike was a KHS titanium framed mountain bike, for which I had a spare set of street tyres – and I have to admit I rode it on-road more than mountain-biking, altho’ I can point to a scar on my knee to prove having ridden on Mt Victoria biking trails.

    I guess it depends what you want out of your cycling experience, but cheap isn’t necessarily better.

  4. It is probably best to buy your first bike from KMart or the Warehouse.
    On special they cost about $150. Bike shops have better bikes, but cost heaps.

  5. Back in the 80s when I did a lot of cycle touring in the UK you could buy large, orange cycling ponchos that attached to your wrists and even sheltered your legs to some degree. But I find a good jacket and waterproof leggings are just fine and less likely to catch the wind.

    Katmandu sell small bike lights that attach via a little loop of elastic.

    I have also become a recent convert of folding bikes, a very versatile form of transport. See my recent purchase and the ultimate in light weight touring:

  6. I can’t see:
    – how small it gets, when it’s closed
    – how its weight, and the wind forces it would incur in Wellington, are borne

    Can anyone imagine Kirks selling this, or would it be too far out of their comfort zone?

  7. Buying a bike is not necessarily as pain free as people may think. The goal of earning a buck conflicts with putting the right bike under the customer and a bike shop may not want to risk getting the right frame size into the shop or point out the disadvantages of certain componentry. They still seem to be selling either sports goods or toys. You need to ride a bike for quite a few km until you get to know it not just do figure 8’s in the yard.
    One thing that demonstrates how useless the retailers are is that rear lights only have attachments to seat posts and no way to attach a light to a carrier or a basket.

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