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Commuter Cycling : ' Fixie' or Scooter?

My son was in the mood for a means to get to and from a place of likely employment. The option being railwaying and riding the distance there and back.

In Queensland bikes are not allowed on trains during weekday peak periods -- morning and   afternoon -- unless  they folded and  bagged.
Between 7:00am - 9:30am towards the CBD
Between 3:00pm - 6:30pm outwards from the CBD

So what it the best tool for the job?

I was thinking through this as a problem solving exercise  and for my money scootering with a folding Mibo  came ahead of  the usual standard bicycle options.

That's how I'd rule on such a commuter  challenge: getting from 'a' to 'b'. So let's look at the principles I think are important for commuting as the properties relate to both bike and scooter.

#1 Light Cycling

If you are going to be using public transport you want to travel light. You'll need to not only carry your machine up stairs and in and out of carriages, but you'll need to support it while the train is in transit. So lighter is so much better than heavy.

#2 Shaped to Fit

If you are going to carry your machine on public transport you want to keep a low profile. So  the smaller your 'bike' the better. The smallest packaging is gonna be folded of course, but if you aren't folded keep your length down if you can. Nonetheless, the most cumbersome feature of cycling the railroads is the bike peddle which can be a weapon in crowded carriages. Peddles stick out to scrape passing heels -- and if bikes were more train friendly they wouldn't have peddles (hint: they' be scooters).

#3 Function Rules

If you are  going to commute how far are you going to ride? It's not worth the extra weight and outlay if you are going to be riding for less than 10 km. Don't overdo it. You won't be mountain biking or negotiating the Tour de France. Consider that what you want to do is get to work quicker than walking or some other transport option. So hone in on your basic needs and keep it simple.

#4 Price and Value for Money

Bikes can be expensive items to purchase, especially light ones. If you can spare yourself the hype the core fact is that you want value for money and a machine that won't be so attractive 'parked' that its going to be stolen while your working your shift at the coal face. If your bike is a theft option would you prefer to lose $1300 plus or $350? I paste up my scooters with stickers so that they are marked goods, less re-salable and more easily identified. But you don't want to be driven crazy by anxiety if you fear your expensive machine is a theft waiting to happen. Better to keep your outlay in the low figures so that you can keep going from 'a' to 'b'. It may happen that you don't ride your bike home from work one day and want to instead 'store it' by locking it up nearby. You want the confidence  to be able to walk away from your bike  knowing that (a) it's cheap enough not to be big time theft bait; and (b) it's cheap enough that you can wear the loss, and replace it, if it is solen. 

#5 Footpath or Road?

I really appreciate the ease with which a scooter can mount and transit  the pavements as well as the roads.Maybe it is because I'm not confident in traffic and a scooter has such slow pickup. But my travelling style is always opportunist as I utilize road and pavement to get around. Bikes can do this too except the jumping on and off isn't so straightforward and with the larger wheel diameter maneuvering on footpaths isn't as easy as scootering can be. With scooters dealing with foot traffic issues are simple: you hop off the scooter and walk around the pedestrian obstruction in your path, then hop back on again.

#6 Gears are for Whimps

As I say: keep it simple. Unless you are pushing great distances or climbing the Alps gears are extra weight you'll need to carry around on your bike. If you want to get exercise then the gears are going to make your life too easy for sweat.  Take up the purity challenge and ride your ride in the raw without these indulgent extras...luxuries.

So weighing up he evidence I think that if you don't want to scoot your best commute option is a  Fixed Gear Bicycle -- a "Fixie". 

  • Light
  • Cheap
  • Simple
  • Reliable
  • Less prone to theft
  • It's exercise plus
  • Does the job: gets you from 'a' to 'b'.
  • ...and it is ever so cool to be seen in the company of a fixie. Coolest dam thing on two wheels.

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