When oil jumped to almost $150 a barrel, it was the typical supply and demand in action in a supposedly free market. Then it fell drastically and everyone sighed in relief and went about their business as if Peak Oil was the stupidest thing they had ever heard of. That was the last time we got a signal that the economy was broken. The fact oil never went back up to that level, or higher, is clearly an indicator the economy never recovered ( okay, really, it was AFTER the price hung around $100 for awhile that the economy broke for good, but I just call that the last plateau on the way down the right hand side of the bell curve ). And do any of you recall a little episode during that price spike having to do with bicycles? Anyone? Sales of bikes spiked with the oil price, leading to shortages and price hikes, hikes that never reduced afterwards, staying higher. Just like other items such as ammunition, rice, beans, etc. Do any of you recall my blather shortly thereafter when Fukishima blew?
After suddenly seeing power supplies drop drastically, Tokyo residents made a mad dash to their bicycles stores and cleaned the places out. Bike shortages as motor vehicle transportation suddenly got more expensive if even possible. Americans in general are as retarded as can be about petrol vehicles. The price drops and suddenly everyone buys gas guzzling SUV’s. The price goes up a paltry 30%, everyone races to buy electric hybrids. The next time oil prices double or triple, the supply of bicycles will dry up. Boom. Welcome to the retail side of JIT inventories. You can’t wait to buy a bike until everyone else wants one. You need to panic very early. Not just on the bikes themselves but their parts and accessories. This needs to be a stockpile item unless you want to walk everywhere. Not for post-apocalypse use but for economic collapse use. As much as you think biking sucks, wait until you can’t even do that. You’ll look at all the fat lardasses grasping and huffing along and feel pretty damn stupid you didn’t get one sooner while you could. I know I keep telling you to get rid of your car and bicycle instead. Even if you don’t want to and don’t need to, you’ll still be forced to do so one day anyway. Prepare early. Because it is coming sooner or later, you want it or not.
By all means, don’t give up your car. Let it own you. What do I care? I’m used to you ignoring me. But you can’t ignore Peak Affordable Oil, or the PetroDollar demise, fracking fields running out or JIT inventories. There have been times I’ve cursed biking, usually involving a bit of a dip below zero in the winter, but I never wished for a car. I just thought about hoofing it instead. Because riding a bike, even slowly, generates a wind chill factor. And owning a bike, no matter how cheap, is still financially draining. But walking sucks ten times worse than what is involved in owning a bike. I used to walk everywhere, back in my twenties. Now I gladly bike, knowing what I’m missing. Do yourself a little test. Go to Wal-Mart, K-Mart if your town still has one, Target and all the bike shops. Count the adult bikes. I’d wager your town carries one adult bike per thousand population. Since I’d also wager that a lot of the 333 folks out of a thousand don’t already own a bike ( factoring out kids and old farts, and really fat people ), this can only mean severe shortages ahead after the smallest upset in the transportation status quo.
You needn’t spend a lot ( nor should you spend the least ). I tried to go for quality by buying American and just got ripped off. My $400 bike should have only cost $200, for all the extra quality I got ( which wasn’t much ). You know I only recommend single speed bikes. I won’t discuss any other type. You already know my reasons, but to help out the newbies-much easier to be your own mechanic, better brakes, hands free to spray attacking dogs, cheaper to maintain, able to mount not just back but front baskets. Good luck finding a used one, other than a ladies beach cruiser ( it simply isn’t worth the ribbing from everyone to use a ladies bike. Trust me from experience ). If you must, buy a Wally beach cruiser. Most frames are made in China, even the American bikes. The rear rack, frame and seat/handlebars are about all that will be salvageable from it after 500-1k miles. You’ll need to replace the wheels, tubes, chain and bearing grease.
Re-grease immediately upon purchase. Factory grease is more oil than grease. Use axle grease from the auto parts store. Replace the chain before five hundred miles. Buy an Amazon chain tool, NOT a Wal-Mart one. Try not to buy any part from Wally, as the quality really sucks. Expect the tubes to get a leak in the first week. Replace with Green Goo extra thick tubes ( and, again, I’d advise Amazon buys rather than Wal-Mart, even for the exact same name brand. Wally World Brand X is NOT the same as Brand X from other places. Experience has shown me there is a quality difference ). Have new tires as the Wally ones will crack quickly. You should use the originals of everything as long as possible, as long as a long trip won’t leave you stranded, but have the better quality replacements ready. It is a nice idea to support your local bike shop, but their prices are high and their parts are usually no better than what you can order at 20% less. Retail bike shops are dinosaurs, anyway. I’d look into a mobile service if you think repairing bikes is something you want to do. In the near future, folks won’t have cars to bring their bikes to you.
Investing in an inventory of parts, with an affordable bike, plus buying front and real baskets, is perhaps $500. That is the bike, baskets, two spare front and back wheels, four spare tires, a half dozen tubes and two extra chains, a chain tool and several wrenches ( 15mm, 17mm, and an adjustable ) and a tire pump. Not bad for transportation insurance.
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