Bicycle, Bicycle*

* with apologies to Queen

My son wanted a bicycle. He really, really wanted a bicycle. He’s at the age where the middle school (soon to be high school) area is large enough so that friends are more than walking distance from one another. Naturally, he wants the freedom to travel on his own terms, and a bicycle is the answer.

Believe it or not, I understand; I actually remember those days. When I was his age I rode to friends’ houses and the library. It gave me the freedom to visit with Pat, my best friend or go to Joe’s and read comic books in his attic. The trips to the library need no explanation since it was the pre-Kindle, pre-Internet world – which in the giant scheme of things is barely after the Paleozoic era. Far enough to include printing with movable type, but you catch my drift.

I lusted for and eventually got an English racer – with three speeds; quite the engineering marvel in those days. Now that I’m (much) older the advantage of having 15 gear combinations is a Godsend. I don’t ride a lot, but when I do, it’s nice to have physics working with me rather than against me. However, as usual, I digress.

The bike my son wants has only one gear ratio, and as near as I can tell, coaster brakes – where you press the pedal backwards to stop – assisted by a hand brake. The wheels are smaller than what “adult” bikes have. Good, old, practical dad mentioned the mechanical advantages, but Adam wanted what he wanted.

Then I flashed back. Although I wanted the English racer, most of my friends were riding bikes with 20″ wheels rather than the 26″. They had the long “banana” seat that extended over the rear wheel and the “monkey hanger” handlebars that placed your hands at or above the level of your head.

Bikes for pre-driving-age teenagers are both transportation and fashion statement. Bottom line is that he picked exactly what he wanted.

Next exciting episode – finding a bike helmet that is both fashionable and protective.

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