Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ofana'eem, Part 2: In Which Bicycles Actually Appear

Drat, another hiatus. I would say this one isn't my fault, but it turns out my supposedly terrible internet service was actually traced to my own faulty grunge-era power strip that was causing the modem to have a fit. Live and learn.

So, on to the Bicycles of the Holy Land! Here, peering from the foliage near our host's home in Jerusalem, is what I believe to be the ubiquitous bike of at least the urban areas we visited:
Be still my beating heart, it's a Bicycle-Shaped Object with 26" (a.k.a. 559mm bead-seat diameter) wheels. These things were all over the place, just like they are in pretty much any other city I've visited from New York to the mean streets of Cedar Rapids. It could pass in just about any dash-mart (Wal-, K-, Mega-) store in the U.S. without causing the slightest kerfuffle among the Huffies and Magnas. My guess is that it speaks Chinese just like they do, so there wouldn't even be a language barrier.

As a fan of model names, however, the Jaguar brand shown was one of my favorites. It seems like their strategy was to pick random names of U.S. states to identify their models. Shown here is an Oregon, but I also saw Texas, Colorado, and -- I think -- Wyoming. Even under close inspection, I couldn't see what made the different states any different. They all seemed to feature the same cheap Shimano parts and low-budget front suspension. Maybe the model names just denoted different paint jobs. Or maybe the really nice models were the states I never saw. I'm sure the Iowa is a fine specimen of mountain bikery.

As long as I'm on the name theme, here's another favorite brand that was almost as ubiquitous as Jaguar:
Too bad their English translator chose the noun over the verb, or they could go after Charlie Sheen for trademark infringement. I never determined if these bikes had any relation to the equally ubiquitous "Winner!" stands where you could buy lottery tickets -- recognizable by their freaky grimacing lottery ball mascots:
Being vaguely serious for a moment, as someone who's hopelessly stuck in the 90s, it warmed the cockles of my spleen to see that there is still a place where the 26" wheel reigns supreme. Even the "serious" bikers I saw on non-BSOs I saw were rolling on the five-five-nine, astride hardtails that I would have coveted greatly back in the aforementioned grunge era. 700c was way underrepresented in both its roadie and 29er incarnations, and I think I saw MAYBE two bikes that I'd consider hipsterish fixies over the course of ten days. 

So what slotted in behind the 559 hardtail as the runner-up bike configuration? The folder, of course!
Methinks the Dahon patent has expired (or those crafty Dahonites are rebadging like maniacs), because I saw more bikes built around some generation/variation of the Dahon hinge than I ever thought possible. Your folder pilot was typically what I call a "person on a bike" rather than a "biker" -- he/she was obviously just a regular dude/dudette getting somewhere in the most efficient way possible, not a person trying to being seen on a lifestyle accessory.

Anywho, those were the ordinary (or quasi-ordinary) bikes our intrepid staff spotted on our pilgrimage through Israel. Next up will be the freaks -- cargo-hauling choppers, rental e-bikes, and (brace yourself) a camel on a tandem. Yes, you read that right.


bikelovejones said...

Cargo bikes? In Israel, land of the craziest drivers ever?
This I've gotta see. Great reports, keep 'em coming.

Steve Fuller said...

Many days, we need more "people on a bike" and less "bikers". Lots of "people on bikes" in London as well, although there were a lot more 700c city bikes in use, as well as a lot of rental bikes.