24 September 2023

You Can Ride It. Really!

 I have long believed that John Milton wrote “Samson Agonistes” for essentially the same reasons why he wrote “Paradise Lost.”  For one, I think he was trying to express his political beliefs.  For another, I think he had a poetic sensibility—almost entirely aural—that he simply had to express.

What is the difference between those two works? “Paradise Lost” is an epic poem, while “Samson Agonistes” is a play of a particular kind:  a “closet drama,” which is intended to be read rather than performed. (I would argue that, like “Paradise Lost,” it—or at least parts of it—has to be read aloud in order to truly appreciate Milton’s poetics.)

There seem to be analogies to “closet” dramas in the bicycle world: bikes and components that are created, not to be ridden, but because, well, someone could create them.  An example is a bike with square wheels, which I showed in a previous post.

But, it seems that someone has actually ridden it:

23 September 2023

Shimano Crankset Recall

 I ride Shimano components—derailleurs, cassettes and brakes—on three of my bikes.  So what I am about to write will not be an expression of schadenfreude.

Here goes:  Shimano is recalling 2.8 million of its cranksets worldwide—760,000 in North America.  They include Dura-Ace and Ultegra 11-speed cranks manufactured between from 2012 to 2019 and sold, whether to individuals or to bike-makers, until this year.

The “Hollowtech” cranks were made with two more-or-less U-shaped aluminum alloy bars bonded with epoxy, which accounts for their appearance, light weight—and the problem that’s led to the recall.

 About 4500 crank arms de-laminated—in other words, came apart—as cyclists pedaled them. Some of those incidents resulted in injuries though, apparently, none were life-altering.

Shimano has provided a list of model names and numbers, along with date codes (which can be found on the backsides of the crank arms). 

22 September 2023

No Bikes On The Right

Since the death of Generalissimo Franco in 1975, Spain has gone from being a conservative Catholic bastion to one of the most seemingly liberal and progressive countries in Europe and, indeed the world.  As an example, in 2005 it became the third nation on the planet--after the Netherlands and Belgium--to legalize same-sex marriage.

Note that I used the word "seemingly."  As in other countries, liberalism and tolerance of racial, ethnic, sexual and gender-expression minorities is found mainly in the large cities.  Rural areas and other places far removed from cities either remained conservative or were part of a "backlash" --which included animus against immigrants--that boosted right-wing politicians and parties into power.

In this sense, a recent development in Elche is not surprising.  A coalition of right- and far-right parties now rules the third-largest city in the Valencia region. They are un-doing what previous administrations did or started--including a bike lane in the center of town. 

Moreover, the city's new government wants to increase the amount of space allotted for cars on the city's streets because--tell me if you haven't heard this before--bike lanes "take away parking spaces" and "cause traffic jams."

It seems that right-wing politicians and their supporters see cyclists and bike lanes as easy targets.  Part of that, I believe, is that in a departure from times past, much of the native working class--who form much of the base of support, as they do for the Republican Party in the United States--either work in auto-related industries or are car-dependent in one way or another.  Cycling is therefore seen as attack on their way of life.

Also, in Elche the bike lane, like others in European cities, was funded in part by a European Union fund to develop "low emission zones"--of which the newly-dismantled bike lane.  Right-wing nationalists can therefore depict bike lanes and other sustainability projects as "overreach" by far-away bureaucrats, whether in Brussels (for the EU) or in Washington DC or state capitals (in the US).

It seems that everywhere a nation or group of people tries to make its country or community more sustainable and livable, the pushback comes from the political right--and bicycles and cyclists are among the first targets.