Claude’s note: This is the second part of article written by one of our most respected readers and opinion leader, Left Coast Chuck. If you want to read the first part go to The Incredible and Efficient Use of a Bicycle as a Bug Out Vehicle (Part 1).
Bicycle Hardware to consider:
The time to change out the parts on the bicycle is before you whip out your American Express card. A dealer will be more willing to change out parts to make the sale than after you have taken the bike out the door, ridden it for a week or two, and then decide to change out parts. Parts that come off the bike brand new can be sold. Parts that have been ridden just a mile or two are used parts and can’t be sold for liability reasons. So the time to configure the bike the way you want it is before you reach for your wallet.
Bicycle hardware among bicyclists is akin to guns among people who shoot. Ask ten bicyclists what would be the best bicycle to use in a bug out situation and I am fairly certain you would get twenty opinions. You’ll know this if you’ve ever discussed guns for home defense – there are many opinions about what is best for home defense.
So you may have plenty of different opinions about hardware, but the following are my recommendations:
Be sure to get your bug out bike at a shop that deals exclusively in bicycles, bicycle parts, accessories and does bicycle repair work. Ask around in the bicycle community. If you see a bicyclist or group at your local coffee shop on Saturday morning, ask them where they get their bikes fixed or who they would recommend for help in buying and fitting a bike. You won’t find your bug out bike at Wal-Mart or Target or any other big box store. While REI and other sporting goods stores stock bicycles, unless you are at a major REI store you won’t find the advice a local bike shop can offer. If you are in Seattle, WA, the REI store has a great bike department. If you are in Tacoma, not so much. Stores like Dick’s and other sporting goods stores are too generalized to maintain a competent bike department. They are mass marketers like Wal-Mart etc.
First, the frame. I would definitely go with a mountain bike frame. It should be made of chromoly steel. An aluminum frame is more rigid and won’t rust. However, welding steel is fairly simple and will get you back on the move if something does break. Almost any journeyman welder will be able to repair your chromoly steel frame. An aluminum frame requires more advanced welding technique and isn’t so easily repaired.
Related: Tools You Will Need When SHTF
I wouldn’t buy this year’s top of the line components; buy last year’s top of the line, or perhaps top of the line from two years ago. Again, I would go with steel as much as possible. Steel can be pounded into shape if bent. Aluminum somewhat but not so much. Titanium – forget about it. Nothing else is as durable as steel. You aren’t looking for components that will help you win the Tour de France. You are looking for sturdy components made of quality steel that will last a lifetime.
Gearing is a complicated subject. Gears are described by the number of teeth they have. Some gears have an offset which helps in shifting, but a beveled face on a tooth means it is not quite as sturdy as a straight tooth. Discuss gear selection with your bike shop technician. You can get the gears you want at the time of purchase at little or no extra cost while the components are new, because the shop can sell them as new parts. Once you have used them, they are used parts and the shop won’t handle them.
Gears are described as chain rings and derailleur rings or cogs. The terminology is sort of self-explanatory. Chain rings are the big rings up front that drive the chain. Derailleur rings or cogs are the gears in back that change the ratio. If you go to bikecalc.com you will see what combinations give you how much travel for one rotation of the crank of the bike. Those distances are called gear inches. You don’t need gears that will provide you with a lot of gear inches. They will make you go fast, but will also make it harder to pedal a heavy load up a steep hill. You want to tell your bike shop technician that you want a gear combination that will allow you to climb a vertical wall. That’s kind of a bike world joke about low gearing. I would suggest a two-chain-ring combination called a compact chain ring set. This is a double chain ring combo. Typically on many mountain bikes, and especially on road bikes, you will see triple chain ring combinations. These are for more gear selections but don’t necessarily translate into a wider range of gear selection. More gears are rather for maintaining your revolutions per minute. If your bike has 27 gears as opposed to 24 or 18, you can maintain your leg rpms easier than if there is a bigger jump from a lower gear to a higher gear. Much like a five speed manual transmission. You don’t necessarily go that much faster with five speeds as opposed to four speeds because you are limited by how much power is transmitted to the rear wheels from the engine. You won’t be concerned with maintaining your rpms in a bug out situation; you will be concerned with being able to pedal up a steep hill with a load on a rough road, and so you will really want low gearing on your bike. You will also want sturdy gears. There is only so much space on the rear axle for the derailleur, so if you have ten gears in the rear derailleur as opposed to eight or six the gears must necessarily be thinner to fit in that space. You will need a narrower chain to fit on the thinner teeth. A narrower chain is necessarily not as strong as a heavier duty chain. Tell your bike shop that you want a bike that is capable of biking along the Rocky Mountain bike trail on a biking/camping trip, or doing a trip along the AlCan Highway. That will give the shop a good idea of how to set up your bike. You are not interested in speed. You are interested in hauling power and strength of components,
For pedals I would suggest all metal platform pedals. Most bike aficionados will tell you that you have to have clip-ons. If you use clip-ons, you have to have rigid shoes with cleats on the bottom that snap into the pedal. The theory behind clip-on pedals is that you just don’t propel the bike by pushing down on the pedal, you also pull up on the pedal on the up stroke and get the maximum benefit from both actions, pushing and pulling. That’s true if you are trying out for a bike team on the international professional biking circuit. In the circumstances that you will be using the bike you will spend as much time walking the bike as you will spend riding the bike for many reasons:
- Security – you want to go very slowly to check out suspicious circumstances
- It’s the end of the day and your butt is just too sore to sit in that seat for one second longer
- Your feet are hot from poor positioning on the pedals and you just can’t push that pedal down one more stroke
There are myriad reasons why you just cannot sit on the bike and pedal and you want to walk. It is much easier to walk in high top hiking shoes than it is to walk in biking shoes with metal cleats on the bottom. You should try to wear hiking shoes that have a fairly thick sole and a nice cushion inside, because your feet can become hot and painful and that makes riding difficult. If you need to cache your bike in order to proceed on foot, it’s a lot easier to proceed silently in hiking shoes than it is in bicycle cleats. In addition it is easier to repair platform pedals than it is cleats, as they may need special parts unique to that particular cleat. You will see clip-on shoes that look like hiking boots. In my opinion they’re a jack of all trades, master of none. Metal platform pedals will allow you to pedal your bike no matter what you are wearing on your feet, even rags. Clip on pedals will not, period.
Wheels: Steel, of course. I would get the widest wheels that will fit in the frame of your bike. Why bigger wheels – don’t skinny wheels go faster? Only partially true, Cricket. Sure you see skinny wheels on the TdF riders. Are you going to have a team of highly accomplished bike mechanics with hundreds of pounds of spare parts following behind you in the team van? If so, go for the carbon fiber wheels. It doesn’t matter if you crash, there is a EMT van following right behind the team vans. If you are going to depend on Joe’s Welding and Blacksmith Shop for repairing your taco’d wheel, you are going to want steel. Again, you are going for strength. I would carry spare spokes for your wheels. I carry spare spokes in a piece of PVC tubing with caps on the ends. I glue one cap on and sand down the other end so that the cap goes on and off with a minimum of effort. I would insist on Schrader valves in the wheels. If they are pierced for Presta valves I would get them drilled and deburred for Schrader valves. Schrader valves are the standard valves that are on cars and U.S. made bicycles. Again, the pro tour wannabes insist on Presta valves because they are cool and are lighter. The truth is you need a special scale to weight the difference between a Schrader valve and a Presta valve – it’s that small. You can get an insert if you need a tube and the only tubes you can find are Presta valve tubes. You can fill up a Schrader-valved bike wheel at a gas station or tire shop. In fairness, you can also buy adaptors for Presta valves that will allow one to use a Schrader valve type air device. It’s handy to have adaptors for both valves in an EOTW situation. Be sure with your wheels that you leave room for fenders. Fenders make for cleaner riding when it is pouring down rain. Mud and other debris thrown up from the road is lessened with fenders. Even if you can’t find fenders in the commercial market, you can make-do with plastic, a pair of scissors and other parts from your workbench. You definitely want fenders on your bug out bike.
Related: Top 5 Awesome Bug Out Vehicles You Can Actually Afford
Tires: I would go with the largest tires that will fit between your wheels and frame but still allow for fenders. You aren’t worried about cutting three seconds off your 10 km time trial, you want a tire that will resist puncture and carry a heavy load. Eric talked about Slime inner tubes. If you have Schrader valves, you can buy Slime in an applicator bottle that will allow you to put Slime in your inner tube. You don’t have to search out special Slime inner tubes. You cannot add slime to Presta valve inner tubes. In addition to Slime in your inner tubes, you can also buy tire liners – called “snakeskins” – to go inside your tires. These are belts that lie inside the tire between it and the tube that help make the tire puncture resistant. Be sure the mechanic knows how to install them correctly and that you observe how he installs them. They need to be installed properly or they will abrade the inner surface of the tire and cause an early failure. Again, the pro circuit wannabes will deride the use of Slime and snakeskins because they make your acceleration slower. Well, that comes into play if you are making a sprint for the finish line, certainly, but I don’t have a team riding with me ready to swap out wheels if I get a flat. I have to sit down by the side of the road and fix the flat myself. I would rather ride than fix flats. So I will give up the two-tenths of a second difference in my sprint to the finish line to get way ahead of the peleton by not having a flat for the whole ride. As I was taking my bike off the bike rack on the back of my vehicle once, prior to starting a 60 mile ride I noticed a green spot where the Slime had leaked through the tube and the tire. It looked as if a goathead thorn had pierced the tire and tube and a little Slime had leaked out. I felt the tire and it felt hard. I hadn’t ridden for a couple of days, so I knew it had happened some time prior. I decided what the heck, if it didn’t hold air I had to either fix the tube now or later or it would hold for the ride. I decided to fix later. I never had to. The Slime sealed the leak and I rode the 60 miles and I don’t remember if I ever had to fix the tube before replacing the tire due to wear. I almost forgot to mention. You can also buy extra heavy duty tubes called thornroof tubes. If you do that, you probably won’t be able to get snakeskins in with the thornproof tube. But you can add Slime to a thornproof tube. My personal choice would be snakeskins and Slime.
I think all mountain bikes these days come with disc brakes. I would get the largest discs that can fit on your bike. With the weight you will be carrying you will need the larger discs to avoid brake fade on long descents with a heavy load. It is scary on a bike when you brakes fail due to overheating and you are rounding s-curves at speeds approaching 50 mph. The thought that goes through your mind is: if I hit just a walnut sized rock it is going to be really messy.
Related: If You See These 6 Signs It’s Time to Bugout
The single most important part of the bike — the saddle. Do not skimp on a saddle. You will regret that you didn’t pop the extra $30 for a better saddle the very first long day. Personally I like Brooks saddles. They are solid heavy leather, and eventually they will shape themselves to fit your butt like they were custom made. Brooks saddles are made the old fashioned way in jolly old Britain, and they are expensive – but they will last you your lifetime. HOWEVER your butt is not my butt. It just may be that a Brooks is not for you. Talk to the bike shop about their saddle exchange policy. See if they have used saddles to try out to see which one fits you. DO NOT SKIMP ON YOUR SADDLE. Your butt will punish you every minute of every day if you skimp on your saddle. There is no such thing as a value priced saddle. Every long distance bicyclist you talk to will tell you the same thing. They may have a different saddle that they find fits them better but that doesn’t mean it’s the saddle for you. You have to try them out. A big wide saddle such as you see on beach cruisers might look like it would be more comfortable than that kind of thin, hard leather Brooks saddle. True, if you are just going to laze along for a mile or so and then put the bike back in the rental rack. But in fifteen miles the sides of that wide saddle will start to chafe the insides of your thighs, and by twenty-five miles the insides of your thighs will be rubbed so raw that you can’t stand to have your trousers rub against them.
So far we have only discussed the bike itself. We haven’t discussed how to load the bike, tire pumps, patch kits, tools to take to repair the bike, parts that are absolutely essential for any long distance trip etc. That will be in the next segment.
If you have any questions about anything I have covered, post them and I will try to answer.
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How to Make 2400 Calorie Emergency Ration Bars Designed to Feed You for a Full Day
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11 Items You Shouldn’t Have in your Bug-Out Bag
Would you consider putting a list together for any ‘bug-out’ vehicles? Things to consider: which would be the best? Gas or Diesel?
I wanted to see how this article was received before I proceeded to alternative vehicles. I do have some man-powered alternative vehicles that one could or should consider using in a bug-out situation.
Horse, require no gas or diesel, always dependable and keep you company
For the average city prepper, keeping a horse is fairly difficult/expensive. The biggest difference between a horse and a bicycle is I can store my bike in the garage for a month. Go out, check the tire pressure and be ready to go in a few minutes. If I have a horse, I have to feed it daily. I have to clean up the used feed daily. I have to have straw where I keep the horse in case it wants to lie down. I can’t ignore it for a month and expect that by merely throwing a saddle on it, it will be ready to go.
If I were in a rural setting where I could keep horses with a minimum of expense, they make much better cross country transportation than bicycles and far better sense than a bike. If I were in a rural setting where I could keep horses, I probably wouldn’t need to bug out. My preps would be in a totally different direction.
If your neighborhood is destroyed, most of the houses are gone and so are your neighbors, criminal or quasi-governmental forces are imposing their arbitrary rule on you and you find it intolerable and feel the need to flee your present area a bicycle is quieter than a motor vehicle, especially if all running privately owned vehicles have been confiscated.
There are many scenarios where a bicycle is the best and only means of transportation. Yes, a horse can cut through a corn field or cotton field whereas riding a bike across either of those would be difficult to impossible. But at the end of the day, for the suburban/city dwelling prepper, a bicycle is far better than walking carrying a backpack.
If you are a city dweller and can afford to board a horse, it might be a 25 or 30 mile drive to the stable where you keep the horse. From my suburban home it is at least a 15 mile drive to the nearest home zoned for horses where I might possibly be able to keep a horse. It is a 30 mile drive to the nearest commercial stable. By the time I could walk there the horse might well have been stolen already.
I don’t know if you have ever actually owned a horse before, but they are a huge expense, require daily care, require a lot of land to browse and exercise on, can and do get sick, and in a SHTF situation – my neighbors aren’t going to come shoot, and eat my bicycle just when I need it most. lol
Nothing against horses, my friend, as I have owned several along with donkeys, and mules. Trust me, they are a lot more work and expense than most city folks realize.
And if things get truly dire, you can eat it.
I would say that eating a horse would be the absolute, least desirable thing to do in an EOTW situation. The horse provides cross-country transportation that can go more places than an ATV. The horse can pull a wagon that you can’t even budge. The horse can help you plow more acreage in a day than you can plow by yourself in a week. If it is a mare and you can find a stallion some place, the horse can reproduce itself, something that no bike or ATV can do. If you have enough acreage. the horse can live off the land. Your ATV must have gasoline or it is just a yard decoration.
The only reason I haven’t talked about horses as a bugout vehicle is because not being what anyone would call a horseman by any stretch, it has been forty years or more since I threw a leg over the back of a horse. You might as well ask me about building a moon rocket.
In addition, I think most of the readers of this list are city or suburb folks like myself. As I mentioned in an earlier post, horses just don’t fit into our lifestyle or budget. Most suburban homes aren’t zoned for keeping horses. Most suburban homes are some distance from such zoning and/or commercial horse boarding establishments.
I would write about horses if I knew something about the topic. I do believe they will play a vital role in our life after an apocalyptic event. I hope folks realize the potential they have for improving our lives and don’t opt for the short term and use them for food.
LCC – I agree about the usefulness of horses, but as you stated they can’t generally be kept in the city. Most city codes require at least 1 acre per horse of grazing land of some sort.
Boarding and stabling fees are pretty expensive, and your horse is miles away when you need it most. Another drawback to horses is that they not only eat a lot of food, but also require a lot of water. Clean, fresh, unpolluted water… that could be a real problem in a SHTF situation.
The donkey that I currently have is absolutely forbidden in the city. If you have ever heard the bray of a long-ears, then you will know why. lol.
I don’t consider eating my working animals as a viable option. Back to horses, which are quiet enough to be kept in the city – the starving neighbors might have different ideas about the edibility of horses. 20-30 armed, and starving neighbors might out vote you on the issue.
As you pointed out earlier, if you live in the country where you can easily keep a horse, then bugging out is probably not your first concern. Luckily, most country folks see the value in a living horse, and are probably pretty self sufficient anyway.
and can find their way home when you’re too drunk!
I have a son who was a Captain on his college Triathlon team (2nd in the nation) and I can appreciate your logic on common sense equipment choices…. 🙂
Folks tend to get either too tied up with the latest/greatest gadgetry or they go the other way with junk.
I would recommend to NOT plan on a bugout bike to ride but to walk a load out. The bike will haul 350 to as much as 500 lbs. You aren’t going to back-pack and ride a bike anywhere near that much weight.. You should be able to walk 20 miles a day. Remember, the Viet CONG and even the NVA used bikes this way to supply their troops with food and material to fight and they didn’t do too bad a job. I don’t believe you should plan on the main roads to make your move and the back roads may be too poor for riding any way..
Even if you are walking a loaded bike because it is too heavily laden to ride up hill or because the trail you are traversing is just too rutted to be able to ride, There will till probably be segments of your route where you will be able to ride and that will do two things. It will increase the distance you are able to travel each day and it will give you a change of travel mode. If your feet are developing blisters, riding the bike for a couple of miles will give them some relief. Going downhill on a bike is generally easier on your knees and other joints than walking downhill and it is definitely faster.
In addition, as Ken pointed out, you can move a much heavier load on a bicycle, even walking the bicycle than you can carry on your back.
I am reading a book on “survival” and the author lists all kinds of essential items that the reader should include in his bug-out bag. Then he finishes up by telling the reader that he should keep his bag as light as possible and that the weight of the bag should be no more than 40% of the reader’s body weight and ideally should be less than that.
He doesn’t seem to realize the incompatibility between the two lines of thought. It is not just this particular author, almost every “expert” on survival talks about all the items that are absolutely necessary, that two is one and one is none and then goes on to talk about the necessity of paring the weight down as much as possible.
I too found a lot of what I call armchair survivalist. A list of survival items weighing 400 lbs is totally ridiculous. Unless 350 lbs of it is MREs’ and water. Study the ways of the Mountain men and learn their skills put together with today,s available items. Just for fun go to some Rendezvous and look at the skills and knowledge used in the camp sites. Yes there are very elaborate setups but look at the true fundamentals behind it and you will see survival 101, 102, 201, 202, 315, 316, 420, and 477. Study the old ways and survival becomes second nature. You learn by doing also. Primitive campsites can be a simple test for a lot of your gear and your skills. Maybe try braiding a trot line and making toggle hooks on homemade braided leader and catch a Catfish. For me its the knowledge with the right equipment that’s going to make the difference. Being a Rendezvous 1780 French Trapper Re-enactor has taught me survival skills and the opportunity to practice them.
Oh, one other thing. All the edibles can be harvested, trapped or quietly taken with a Bow and Arrow.
The best defense, don’t be seen, don’t make noise, don’t look valuable, practice the old forgotten skills that are almost forgotten.
The modern bikes commonly available today are cheap, flimsy junk. My bro bought a So called good one. Few days later the back wheel cratered. Just riding around the farm, smooth roads. He then bought some alloy wheels, not cheap. Plus always had trouble with the chain jumping over the teeth on sprockets. Constant jumping whole time. I have three here now, same ole crap. Then, a friend that works at a chemical plant brought me a bike from out there, industrial duty schwinn. Ever wonder why them old bikes are the number one choice for homeless dudes? I’ve never seen a homeless guy on a ten speed. In other countries, their bikes are way beefier than ours. Spokes over twice diameter. Pedal crankshaft bolts together. Gears in rear are huge. Them hundred buck bikes up at the local wall marks will just disappoint these days. Sure, they all shiny and inviting, but this rusty old one I have will out last it. I have been to other countries and seen those bikes. Ole heavy duty single speed you can count on. Saw some with an axle in back, engine pulling front wheel, pickup bed on back, three people on the front bench seat, hauling as much as a Model T Ford with a heaping bed of produce, and had a cab. Do you think the wall marks daily special will handle that? Not the ones here.
I quite agree, Lidge, if you buy your bug-out bike at a big box retailer you will be reduced to traveling by shank’s mare in short order. If I were buying a bug-out bike for the EOTW, I also agree that I would want the strongest bike I could assemble. I would suggest the price range of a sturdy bike would be no less than $600 and that may be conservative. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bike I contemplate would run closer to $1,000.
I am sure many people live in areas where long distance riders are a rare sight. There are a limited number of routes that cross-country bicyclists generally follow. I know I-10 is one because a number of riders in the local bike club have ridden across the U.S. using I-10. The other cross-country interstates, I-40, I-70, I-80 and I-90 are also popular for riding across the U.S. Every summer hundred of bicycle riders cross the U.S. If you are driving along one of the trans-continental interstates and you see a couple of riders on bikes laden with panniers they are probably riding cross-country.
In addition, the Pacific Coast route is a world famous bicycle route. If you are anywhere on U.S. 1 or Highway 101 during the summer you will see a continuous stream of bicyclists from all over the world riding either from the Canadian border to the Mexican border or some portion of the route if you don’t have the whole summer to ride.
Each of these routes ridden by hundreds, if not thousands of bicycle riders clearly establishes that heavily laden bicycles can travel significant distances in reasonable times. Many “mature” bike riders make a cross country or Pacific Coast ride one of the first items on their bucket list to do when they retire.
The homeless ride whatever they can steal or acquire at a thrift store for a couple of bucks. That’s why you don’t see them riding high end bikes. You may see them on a 40 year old 10-speed Schwinn that someone donated to ARC. There was a big up-surge in riding bicycles in the 1970s. Schwinn had not yet gone chinese and their bikes were still a quality bike at the lower end of the quality spectrum in the 70s.
Used high end bicycles still sell for a high price and not many people donate them to thrift stores. Most high end bike owners take careful precautions to secure their expensive bikes. That’s why you don’t see many homeless with high end bikes. If you see some apparently homeless person riding a bicycle where his knees are coming up to almost hit his chin you can be assured that he stole it from some kid who didn’t lock it while the kid was in the ice cream store.
Yes, you will see industrial strength bicycles in foreign countries.
They use bicycles for local deliveries, getting down a crowded narrow street to deliver parcels is easier on a 3-wheel cargo bike than it is in even the smallest pick-up. While I didn’t take note of them the last time I visited Japan, on my first trip to Japan courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, I used to marvel at the sight of a bike rider on an industrial strength bike with 25 24-bottle boxes of Coca-Cola on the rack on the back an industrial strength bike. That was back in the days when Cokes came in the familiar (then) green glass bottle. A case of Cokes probably weighed 20 pounds. I don’t know how the rider ever balanced them but they managed.
In an EOTW situation, we will see a return to bicycles being used the way they are in world countries, for serious transportation and for work. Even if you don’t plan on bugging out, in an end of the world situation, you should include a bicycle in your transportation plans. It should be a mountain bike because roads will begin to deteriorate at an ever-increasing rate as time goes by.
Dear Chuck: Thanks for the info. Planning to redo an old Diamond Back that was found on a Ranch out here. Frame and gears are good, saddle is shot, put cross country tires on it. Planning on fitting it out like a Euro “Fighter Bike”. Any comments? THX
Well the term “Euro Fighter Bike” threw me. If you mean a single speed bike, I don’t favor them. The reason all long distance bikes are multi gear is the same reason cars use gears to move. I know that single speed bikes are the fad right now as well as bikes that are called “fixies” which are bikes that have no brakes but use the gearing of the bike itself to slow down. I have read all the arguments about fixes and my reply is, if you have a death wish, please do not involve others in your self-immolation.
I predict that fixes will be a short footnote in the history of bicycling in the U.S. in the not too distant future.
That said, I hope that you didn’t mean a fixie by your Euro fighter bike and now are highly insulted.
If you give me a little detail on the EFB, I can, perhaps, comment on it if I know more about what it is.
Good to see you writing articles now. I have always found your comments interesting, and informative, and this article is no different.
It has been some time since I have done any serious biking, and so you covered many newer innovations that I was unaware of, as well as many useful suggestions.
Thanks for taking the time to put this series together. I came in in the middle of this series, so I will need to go look up your first installment.
Maybe you can cover some info on bicycle trailers, motors, or small helper motors as well in the future.
My third installment covers panniers and trailers.
Any chance you could shorten your articles up? I’m disabled and just can’t get through them…..
Don’t do them all at one sitting. Read part. Go back later, read another part, etc. etc. The article stay on my e-mail list until I delete them, so if it takes me a month to read an article I can read it a little at a time.
I have biked for more than most have lived. Ridden Schwinn for years. First good bike was a Schwinn Corvette for a newspaper route. Got a motorscooter but still enjoyed the Schwinn. Later got a gold color 1968 Schwinn Varsity all steel frame and rims at the age of 26. That was and still is a super strong bike. I joined the local bike club and rode that bike 150 miles a week. Later ended up buying a 1972 Raleigh International and going for long haul 100 mile rides on Saturdays, rest Sunday and doing 25 to 40 mile rides on each weekday and enjoying every minute of saddle time; Brooks saddle.
Now I am rebuilding the Schwinn Varsity using as many original parts as possible watching the wear factor as close as a hawk watches its prey. There are parts out there from old very lightly used bikes and good strong Schwinn frames that have all just been sitting in garages. There are a few ” Vintage Bike Shops” here that still have extremely good used parts for the wonderfully old Schwinn bikes.
For me and my riding experience, give me a strong steel framed, steel rimed, 10 speed steel cranks and chain wheel with heavy chain, upright steel bars with steel headset and a comfortable Brooks saddle. I would have panniers(steel) with the minimum survival equipment and tow a trailer with the “extra comforts”.
If it really gets bad the small trailer and extras could be hidden and proceed with the bike and the vital survival equipment. I figure my biking experience and re-enactment (20 yrs) of the 1780s to 1840s could help not only keep my family going but an asset to a working group that may band together. Re-enactors have places to meet just in case and work together. Sorry places not revealed in print but only by agreement to each other. Trust of another re-enactor – I could lay 1 million dollars on a tree stump and a freshly killed field dressed deer hanging beside it and if had to leave to do some important behind the bushes business I could return and find a rock on top of the money so it wouldn’t blow away and the deer skinned and the meat cut up ready for curing and storage. I guess don’t sell bicyclist short or laugh at re-enactors. We are all in this and the informed will make it through the tough times especially the SHTF
No question the Schwinns of the 60s were, indeed, splendid bikes. I used a Schwinn Varsity to commute to work daily when I first moved to my present location. That was back in the early 70s. Unfortunately, Schwinn decided to go mass marketer and their bikes are being made in China. There may be an independent Schwinn dealer left over from the 70s here and there, but they are a dying breed. Today you buy your Schwinns at Target and Wallyworld and other mass marketers and they are middle of the road mass market bicycles. Better than walking until they fall apart which will be sooner than later.
Today you can buy a Schwinn for just about the same dollar amount as you paid for a top of the line Schwinn back in the 60s. That should tell you something about the difference in quality.
yes That is exactly why I am rebuilding the 68 Varsity and getting needed parts from the Vintage dealer here that deals in the previous 70’s Schwinn’s. I am also building a recumbent from scratch patterned after the old Sun Tour with many parts from pre-70’s Schwinn bikes. Gearing being a closely watched aspect. Of course any bug out bike closely calculated and assembled. Keep up the good articles to help out all the people involved here.
My vintage Schwinn Varsity and the Raleigh I replaced it with were liberated by the forces of evil many years ago, but what great old bikes! I have a couple of 25 year old Raleighs I’ll never get rid of, a 12 speed commuting bike and one of their 1st mountain bikes. Very grateful for the thousands of miles I got to ride before the danged nanny state passed helmet laws…
While I hate to be told what I must do for myself by our caretakers in the District of Corruption or other locales of doo-gooders (that’s not a typo), I am a firm believer in helmets. I had a close call two times on a motorcycle; have know folks who had a simple, dumb spill that should have been a road rash case but turned fatal with a simple blow to the head — or worse yet, a simple blow to the head ruined their life forever with brain damage. Personally I would much rather be dead than be in the condition I have seen some folks who impacted their head.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have heard the argument, if you hit your head while wearing a helmet you are liable to break your neck and be paralyzed from the neck down. Well, Cricket, if you hit the blacktop hard enough to break your neck and rupture your spinal column while wearing a helmet, your only worry doing the same crash w/o a helmet would be whether you had filled out your organ donor card. In the PDRK there was a noticeable drop in available donor organs when the motorcycle helmet law went into effect. The young, inexperienced riders who were prime candidates for donating organs weren’t killing themselves in the numbers they had been. The same is true with pedal bicycles. I had a guy tell me,”I only ride on the sidewalk, so I don’t need a helmet.”
Well, Clyde, you are riding on the wrong side of the road even though you are on the sidewalk. Nobody looks to the right when they are making a right hand turn. You’re coming down the lefthand sidewalk as the driver makes a California rolling stop and nails you right in the middle of the bumper of his jacked-up Chevy Suburban with the brush cutter on the front. If you are lucky you will be killed. If you’re not, you will have trouble remembering your last name when asked.
When you read my third installment you will see that I recommend a helmet and a helmet mounted mirror for your bugout ride. I outline the reasons for the same.
Really a well done article Chuck. I read it twice and I’ll probably go over it again tonight.
I’m still reading and watching everything I can online to learn as much as possible, and you answered some of my questions about frame material. I always said STEEL, but others were saying aluminum and if money wasn’t an issue, then carbon fiber, and my thing was REPAIR. How can I repair and keep a carbon fiber bike going?
You have convinced me steel is the ONLY thing to use.
How long do tires and tubes generally last from normal wear and tear, and even dry rot if you store extras?
Can you use some thing like ArmorAll to coat the rubber to make it last longer?
Are there any custom bike and frame builders who can build some thing exactly the way you want it, even if it’s a little…..okay….A LOT weird, but still use off the shelf parts or easy repair?
Are you going to cover things like folding bikes that we can throw in our vehicles and more or less just a get home fast type of thing from work if needed?
I mean not many of us will carry a real bike around with us all the time and if we’re say….10 or more miles from home and at work, even a cheap folding bike would be better than walking. Even if a woman is in heels, she can pedal that distance in heels much easier than she can walk it. Maybe tie a pair of cheap gyms shoes and sweat pants or shorts to the bike for any officer worker to change into if needed.
I mean if I’m reaching for my bike, things are probably not bad, they’re life and death. It’s almost like you need two bikes, one cheap get home folder that never leaves your vehicle, and another REAL bike built for the end of the world type of use.
What about ebikes and even adding small gasoline engines to a bike?
My logic is if I have a bike with an electric motor or engine, I could get out of the city or where ever, very quickly and save my own strength for later. I’d much rather have serious over kill than find myself wanting or lacking when things go south. Plus with solar, charging batteries on an ebike and letting the motor do the work for you instead of your legs just seems better to conserve calories and lower the risk of injury due to being tired.
I really hope you continue this series as well as start a BOV series as someone has suggested. You’re doing a GREAT job, and I’m learning a lot. Keep up the great work.
If the frame you really wanted and if it fit you perfectly and came with all the parts you wanted on the bike, I would say go with aluminum. It can be welded to repair a break but not every welder is able to weld aluminum. Anyone who can’t weld steel is not a welder.
Carbon fiber, if you just fall down or drop the bike ha stop go back to the manufacturer to be tested and rectified. Most of the time, I am of the opinion, they just throw the frame away and give you a new one. That’s okay if you are fairly well to do and the manufacturer hasn’t gone out of business when the EMP struck. It is really dishandy (not a typo) in that scenario.
I don’t have a valid opinion on Armor-All. Some folks claim that it doesn’t do a thing to extend rubber life. Some folks claim the opposite. I am not a chemist. I don’t know the chemical make-up of Armor-All and with my lack of organic chemistry, even if I did not the make-up I am not qualified to comment.
I have noticed that in the past bike tires at the bike shop were wrapped in paper and shipped that way. I don’t know the reason for it but I did notice that the bike shop folks didn’t unwrap the tires until they were ready to install them.
Hmm. So when I put tires away for storing, I wrap them in strips of brown wrapping paper. I overlap the wrapping as if I were wrapping a handlebar or a baseball bat. I don’t know for sure if it helps but it seems to
I think how long tires last is based on many factors. How they are stored. Sixty degrees F’ 50% humidity or whatever are the optimum factors are for storage, which I much confess I have not researched but I am sure it is on line some place. Also the ambient air. If you life in SoCal, tire life is shortened by all the additives in our are that we are so lucky to have. If you life in the panhandle of Idaho, maybe no so much. In researching the life of automobile tires I noticed a wide variation in tire life recommendations from folks that I thought should know, anywhere from six to ten years which I think is a helluva spread.
I have a lot of thoughts about motors on bicycles. Maybe I will write a fourth article on motorized bikes. The 25¢ opinion right this minute is not for a bug-out bike. That needs more explanation as I realize there are several readers who are currently using same and that opinion would seem to fly in the face of real life experience.
Boy I sure managed to get more typos that I should have in that answer. Sorry. Hope they aren’t too misleading and that everyone can read through them.
Enjoyed the article. Good info. Son in law in city used to ride a bike and take a bus for part of his commute. Would have been handy if ever needed to bug out.
Before todays efficient cross country bikes, during the depression, men pushed handcarts and walked long distances. If needed you’ll accomplish more than you think you can.
When my brother and I were younger and used to do a lot of miles on our bikes, mum got sick of payng for new tubes because of punctures. Thornless tubes were tried and improved the situation, but in the end we used to cut the side walls off our old tires and then cut them to size to fit into the inside of the new tire between the tire and tube. Worked like a charm, and was cheep. I was the first teen at my school to get a mountain bike, it was heavy but unbreakable, except the three times I was hit by cars. It was expensive for the day, around $300, which is laughable in todays prices. The main problem with having a nice bike was getting it stolen several times. Grrrr
Great article! I live in a rural setting and would be trying to get back here if things went bad, but when we travel we almost always carry our bikes-both for enjoyment and in case we have trouble with truck. Looking forward to 3rd article.
First of all, like everything, there are fads or a certain direction that buyers will follow. I have an older Panasonic 12 speed. I never mastered gear changes or became one of those touring bike people. But when I went looking at bikes, I didn’t see anything sturdy, practical or better than a 3 speed cruiser, which at the time was lame for a guy in high school (Although I rode one and liked it, but so, so slow) and I was taken in by all the talk about gears and maintaining an even tempo for longer riding times. Years later I changed the wheels for ones with wider tires and a straight handlebar, which let me ride it much better on grass and with more stability. And it’s still a “light” touring/commuter bike.
Now, I kind of follow Atomic Zombie way of thinking, which is to make your own or modify. Recumbents and multi-wheel bicycles, cargo bikes and bike cars are expensive. Of course, now that I drive everywhere they have “Fatbikes” and adult sized Mongoose bikes, which as they are are good bases for a possible apocalypse or bug out vehicle. I HIGHLY recommend the website for all the free information or his books if one is also very interested in building or modifications.
As far as department store models being poorly made, I can’t say, but I agree that if possible, bike shops carry better bikes even in the budget lines, but one can always start off or make do with a cheap new or a second bike. If parts are hard to find, one may have to make do with whatever they can find. And so that may mean using aluminum frame bikes of which there are lots of them floating around. Of course a carbon fiber would be great, but once it breaks up, it needs to be abandoned and discarded… a throw away basically.
I’ll take a sturdy bike over a lightweight if it offers more stability and durability, which translates into longer life, better riding at speed or with the extra weight of cargo or a trailer. I am sold on steel or muffler pipe because it is easy (let’s say possible) to cut, and weld. I am happy that you addressed the issue of simple and durable over complex feature rich designs.
Looking forward to more on this subject Chuck
I recently pulled my old mountain bike out of storage, replaced the dry rotted tires/tubes, cleaned it up a bit and gave it a few judicious shots of lubricant. It took me about 2 miles to decide that leaning forward to the handle bars was NOT a doable thing anymore.
I did some research and discovered ‘semi-recumbent’ bikes/trikes. Not the little tadpole types with your feet seemingly above your head, these do sit lower than regular bikes and have a seat with a back support. You can choose regular handlebar or under seat steering. This has been a great benefit to my retired body. They may not be as nimble as a standard bike but are light years ahead of the old ‘laundry trike’ of the past and have gearing to allow hills to be conquered.
Another nice thing is the attachment points behind the seat between the back wheels make attaching a basket/box and a trailer hook-up frighteningly simple.
I chose the Sunseeker Tri-Classic for my first try at this at a BOV (and to shed the residual from some really good groceries). Other options I found are the Sunseeker X3-AX, Sunseeker USX, Belize R2, Mission and Trailmate Meteor. Hopefully these give a start for your research…… Your choices and mileage may vary.
Thanks LCC, I love being made to think….
Great info Chuck! If you could, I’d like your opinion on rim sizes. (Back in the day, I rode 27″ x 1.25″ with Michelins.) And, what’s the widest tire they make for off road travel?
Since I live in the Hoosier National Forest area, I have many off road routes to choose from.
Great article, and I agree with your use of steel. It’s tough, and it’s fixable.
Your wheel size and tire size will be dictated by your frame geometry. You might check with your local bike shop and see what is the largest tire size that will fit your wheels. you may be able to go to a 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 on your present wheels. Exchanging wheels gets to be expensive and if you are going to use your present bike, I would stick with the wheels you have rather than buying a new set of wheels.
There is a new trend with 29″ wheels and extremely wide tires for offload bikes. The theory is that the 29″ wheels allow the bike to jump bigger obstacles. The huge tires give you the kind of traction you see on the oversized tires on trucks. If all you ever were going to do was ride your bike in extremely rugged terrain, that kind of bike might be worth some consideration.
In an EOTW situation, you want a bike that is as all purpose as you can get. It should be light weight but not so light as to be prone to breakage. It should have wide tires, but no so wide that riding on a road is a chore. It should have good components, but sturdy ones. Top of the line these days is titanium and carbon fiber. They are great for light weight. Not so great for price and repairability. If the carbon fiber seat post breaks you are going to be stuck with riding standing up for the rest of time. If the titanium wheels get taco’d who is going to fix them?
Even with an off road bike, I think I would opt for a smoother tread on the front tire and only have knobby tires on the back wheel. That’s where you need traction. Knobby tires get very tiresome with vibration after a while when riding on paved surfaces.
Thanks Chuck, I have never considered a smooth tire for the front and a knobby for just the back. Great idea worthy of consideration.
Perhaps, with all the knowledge you have in the biking arena, maybe you should consider writing a complete book on the subject with a slant toward the prepping world. I think it would be a top seller. …I know I’d buy it!
Great, great, work!
Horses are very useful, mules, donkeys also. You want a good alarm system…
But, you that can’t have horses should be studying and learning about them. There is a lot to know, and they are a lot to have, as in valuable. Learn how to catch one. How to tie a rope halter. They don’t have to have shoes. But learn foot care. My oldest horse is 24, healthy, strong, and wise. He is my first choice.if I was to use an animal. Learn how to harness their power.
LCC, I read all the comments but the one thing no one seemed to ask was, do you have any recommendations on a quality bike in the 600-700$ range? thanks. this would be my first bike purchase in quite some time so any info would be helpful
I don’t want to recommend a particular bike. Something I might like for me might be totally wrong for you. There are so many bikes on the market these days in the price range you indicated no bike store can afford to stock all of them. You need to shop and see what is available in your marketplace and what feels best for you. I would shop at a bike store that does professional fitting. Not the head wrench just having you stand over a particular bike and telling you that it works. Bike fit is an important part of purchasing a bike. It may be that no bike store in your area does such fitting, then you will have to go with the advice of the person you are dealing with. I would try to familiarize myself with the personnel in the shop before I pulled out my Amex card and get somebody to advise you whose advice you feel comfortable with.
FYI, they are making solid (foam) bicycle tires now, that never go flat. I bought some for my bike and I feel 100 pounds lighter since I never have to worry about getting a flat tire when I am away from home.
No, I wasn’t aware that there had been a successful non-flat tire. How do you mount them on the wheel? Do they come in a variety of sizes? What is the furthest distance you have ridden on them? How do they compare to inflated tires on rough road surfaces? Can one ride on gravel or dirt on them? How long have you had them and what approximate total distance have you ridden on them so far?
I would be really interested in the answers to those questions to see how they compare to inflated tubes and tires. I know there have been several attempts at solid tires on bicycles but to the best of my knowledge, to date, they have been less than a stellar success. I would be really interested getting the details on them. If you could supply the name of the tire and the manufacturer, I can research them and report on them.
I didn’t get a reply to my questions, so I went on line to investigate foam inner tubes. The tires are not made of foam, the inner tube is made of foam, at least the ones available on Amazon are.
Sheldon Brown, the U.S. guru of bicycling thinks that foam inner tubes are a blow back to times prior to the invention of the pneumatic tire. While the name Sheldon Brown doesn’t spring instantly to the forefront of most of your minds, in bicycling circles, pronouncements from Sheldon Brown carry more weight than executive orders from any U.S. president and certainly more gravitas than statements from any foreign head of state. In the U.S. in bicycling circles, Sheldon Brown is MR. BICYCLE.
Second, I will steal a couple of quotes from Livingstrong.com which is hosted by Mark Livingood. He has far more expertise in bicycling than I. While he would not place himself in the category of Sheldon Brown, nor would I, I would feel comfortable following his advice in bicycling matters and would always give his opinions regarding bicycling serious consideration even if I disagreed.
This opinion was written in September 2017, so it is fairly recent:
“Cyclists often believe archaic airless technology is more functional than pneumatic tires, since airless tires cannot lose air. Pneumatic tires absorb shock throughout the tire, while airless tires experience shocks only in the area the blow originates, potentially damaging bicycle rims. Pneumatic tires conform and offer traction over rough surfaces; airless tires bounce over rough terrain, resulting in poor traction. Airless tires represent a Herculean effort for tire installers, often damaging rims or tools during installation. Many bicycle repair shops charge exorbitant amounts or outright refuse to install airless bicycle tires.
“Most local bicycle shops can obtain but do not stock airless bicycle tires. Most shops will attempt to talk consumers out of purchasing such products. Many online retailers and airless bicycle tire manufacturers sell airless bicycle tires. Never purchase solid tires made of materials besides foam as solid rubber tires cause even greater trouble than foam airless bicycle tire varieties. Manufacturers often list solid rubber tire materials as elastomers. Quality puncture-resistant bicycle tires and tubes often offer protection nearing airless tire performance while maintaining comfort, durability and traction control.”
Mr. Livingood goes on to recommend what I have recommended in my third article , thorn-proof tubes and tire liners. He doesn’t recommend Slime. As a user of Slime for over twenty years, I feel confident in recommending it to bicyclists who are interested in trouble free riding as opposed to getting lots of practice in applying patches. There is no question that Slime does make it somewhat more difficult to install a tire but not as difficult as a foam inner tube. It also makes for a messy blow-out.
There are a couple of applications in the reviews on Amazon that make some sense but I feel do not apply even to heavily laden bicycles bugging out.
One reviewer was pleased because he has a gasoline driven bike which is quite heavy, 200 pounds on the rear wheel alone. He got a flat on his first ride and had to push his monster bike home 4 whole miles!!! Oh, the horror of it all. He hasn’t gotten a flat since he installed the foam inner tube. I gather that he uses his bike around town and is probably 15 or so miles is the limit of his bicycle riding. For me, fifteen miles barely gets me past the city limits.
The other reviewer who posted a positive review had mounted the foam inner tube on an industrial application and was happy with them in that application. If you are going to need to wheel a piece of equipment around in a work environment where there are sharp shards of metal on the floor, these would be ideal.
If you have ever had a wheel barrow with a solid rubber tire, then you know what they feel like when they hit a bump. I had forgotten that the original safety bike, where one sat on the seat and kicked the bike along because there were no pedals nor gears, had solid wheels and when pneumatic tires came along, solid tires were quickly dropped. That’s called a clue.
There are some videos on line showing how to mount the foam inner tubes on wheels. It is more difficult than a regular tube. If you pinch a tube when installing a new tire or after fixing a flat, the remedy is not foam inner tubes, the remedy is to correct your tire installation procedures so that you don’t pinch the inner tube right after you have patched it.
If you are including a bike in your bug out plans, I would strongly recommend getting a book on bicycle repair. Practice taking the tube out and putting it back in on both the front and rear wheels. You should also practice removing the rear wheel so that it is easy for you to do. When you are in a state of semi-panic because you are bugging out, is not the time to be learning the details of changing a tire on the rear wheel (nor the front wheel for that matter.)
So foam inner tubes may have application is some circumstances. Were I Jan, I would have taken my recommended course of action and used Slime and liners or thorn proof tubes rather than foam inner tubes, however, each of us must make our own decisions. Investigate before you leap.
I really like the solid tire idea, BUT with everything, there’s theory and then there’s practice.
Just taking a step back and thinking about it, a solid tire makes sense at first, but then you start thinking about it while in operation and playing the devils advocate, it starts to not make so much sense…..at least to “ME”.
A solid tire means A LOT of vibration being transferred to the frame if you don’t have any suspension, and I just think that you will soon find the weakest point on your frame when it cracks. Weld it up and you will find the second weakest point on the frame and on and on.
When it comes to anything mechanical, heat, high speeds and constant vibration are killers. Just look at the great lengths they go to when trying to eliminate vibration by mounting engines, generators, or anything like that, they’re all mounted on rubber based mounts.
The only two things I can think of where solid tires are a better option, are forklifts that operate on a smooth concrete floor, and maybe some mining applications where tires would be cut to pieces by sharp rocks. Both of these though are not moving fast and the mechanical parts inside the vehicles, I bet are still mounted in rubber mounts.
Also, I agree about helmets. I grew up in the early 70’s and we never had helmets. I remember a town meeting one time when I asked if they REALLY cared about our personal safety that much that they felt they needed to “ORDER” us to protect ourselves in every way possible to include seat belts and helmets?
He said as much as I hate to make a law telling people this, I do feel that we need to do everything we can to help people protect themselves.
I said then how dare the gooberment order me to protect myself with seat belts and helmets, BUT then say I can not use a gun to protect myself or I can not carry one to protect myself, but YOU have armed police all around you to protect YOU? I actually asked that to a few of my state reps, and they were all caught off guard and had no answer at all and just looked at me, and others started saying yeah why is that if you care SOOOO MUCH?
Anyway, back helmets. Back in 1996 or 97 a good friend of mine was riding his bike home from work. The company he worked for gave them 3 hours a week with pay to workout and stay in shape and he choose to ride his bike.
He was on his way home and had his work clothes in a plastic garbage bag and was holding it while riding. The bag was swinging back and forth and got caught in the front wheel and locked up that wheel instantly.
He was flipped over the bike and smashed his head on the road. Just by “LUCK” if you want to call it that, a fire truck was driving up from making its rounds of inspections and stopped and called for an ambulance right away.
They said he bled so much that they had to hose off the road.
Long story short he spent almost 7 months in the hospital and they ended up removing part of his brain and he lost the sight in both eyes……all from a simple plastic bag.
Now take that and think bugout bike and how much crap we might have hanging off of our bike and you start thinking how will all this stuff that is here to help me survive……KILL ME before I get to where I’m going.
I start to think about what if this or that breaks and locks up my wheel or whatever and solid tires just increases those chances to a much greater point when you start thinking about it.
Also, if solid tires were so great, the military would be using them with bullets flying all around and you’d see them on aircraft as well. I think engineers have weighed out the pros and cons and decided that having that cushion of air is better and worth the risk of a flat now and again compared to the constant shock and vibration of a solid tire….but what do I know.
Bill, you are so right. An MRAP is armored up. If solid tires were so great the MRAP would have solid rubber tires. It certainly is built to take the vibration and shaking but it still has pneumatic tires. That should tell us something.
Yeah, if you get hit head-on by a 1-ton dually going 75 mph, a helmet isn’t going to do you much good. It is the stupid, dumb accidents like the one your friend had. He should have had a broken collarbone, worst case, and a large dose of road rash. Instead he got a long stay in the hospital, tremendous medical bills, even if he had the best medical coverage in the world, loss of vision and probably significant loss of cognitive ability. All that because of a simple incident.
I too grew up in a helmet-free era. Heck, as I recall, the helmets professional bike riders wore were just leather coverings on their head that held down head scars but didn’t do anything for impact. I still have a lump in my lower lip from a header I took over the handlebars and that was more than 70 years ago. Another simple incident. My front wheel hit the curb, skidded on wet leaves in the gutter. I went over the handlebars and tried to bite a chunk out of the curb. The curb was tougher than I was,
I was wearing a helmet both times I dumped my motorcycle. I only had minor skin damage but the damage to the helmets really, really, really convinced me of the value of something harder than the hardness of my own head.
In addition, as I point out in volume 3 of this continuing saga, a helmet-mounted mirror allows one to view far more to the rear than a bike mounted mirror. In an EOTW bug-out being able to see a broad view to the rear will be a most valuable asset.
Many riders ridicule a helmet-mounted mirror as a Fudd. They “turn around to look to the rear.” That may be fine but every time one turns around to look to the rear, one then cannot see to the front and one invariably veers slightly in the direction of the turn. They claim they don’t veer but if you are following them, you can see the veer.
After all, pro riders don’t wear rear view mirrors on their helmets. Yeah, Clyde, but at 5’9″ and 185 pounds, no pro team is looking to pick up a short, fat, 48 year old rider. Get real! You ain’t a pro rider, won’t be one in this lifetime — get a mirror. And in an EOTW bug-out you will be so glad you got that helmet mirror that enabled you to see the guy with the rifle who popped out from behind the bush 100 yards back so that you could veer off the road and into concealment.
Bill ain’t so right. MRAP tires have a solid rubber full circle inner core so as to run however many days it needs to, without any air. Runflats. Like I said, the solid bike tire. Military does it because it is cheaper than a solid tire, and is the next best thing. So, the third best thing is what you are recommending, a full pneumatic assembly. Will it sway your opinion, or will you say the military must be wrong for doing such as this! How dare they expose our soldiers to this vibration! I bet them soldiers in camel jockey land will choose solids first, run flats second, and just go ahead and walk if full pneumatic is the only availables. If you can’t adapt, then I will walk by your body, rummage for valuables, and continue on…
You’re right about the military run flats…..kind of.
The run flats are for getting you out of harms way should you lose a tire for whatever reason. They are NOT designed to run for days, more like a few miles and at a pretty low speed once you’re out of danger.
The reason they have speed limits on space saver tires, and run flat tires is because once the tire loose air or you replace it with one of those tiny tires, you now have two different diameter tires on your vehicle.
Now if it’s on the non driving axle, that’s not so bad and it’s more forgiving of the diameter differences, but if it’s on say a front wheel drive, you better go slow, because the transaxle or rear differential will be turning much faster inside and for much longer periods of time than it’s designed for, to make up the difference of the tire diameters.
It will ruin that part of the drive train and why they say do not exceed 50mph and only do it for say 50 miles. The tire can take it, but the drive train is not designed to work like that, at least not for that kind of distance and speed.
This is also why they say replace tires in pairs, so they are the same diameter and when they make one turn, they both travel the same distance down the road.
If you have a tire that’s say 32″ in diameter, it will travel 100.48″ down the road for every rotation it makes. To go one mile, 5280 feet, it has to make about 630 rotations.
Now if you have a worn tire and a new tire, and the worn tire is say 31″ in diameter, so you lost a half inch of tread on each side of the tire, you will now travel 97.34″ for every rotation it makes, and you need to make 651 rotations to go one mile, or an increase of 21 turns.
Now think about a space saver tire which might be several inches smaller than the main tire. What if it is say 28 inches in diameter. That means it’s traveling only almost 88 inches for every turn it makes, and to go one mile it needs to turn 720 times or 90 rotations MORE per mile traveled. Think about the heat and vibration built up there.
That difference has to be made up some where and that’s in the drive train or differential. Differential meaning it makes up the difference in tire rotations as needed like making turns, but it comes with extra heat being generated, and vibration, and both are killers. That’s why they say go slow, and not too far.
Now with run flats, if you do get a flat and start to run on your run flats, you now have TWO different diameter tires on the SAME wheel. You think you had trouble before, now try to make a solid inner run flat tire which is smaller than your regular tire, BOTH spinning the same rotations, AND cover the same distance.
It’s like having a space saver tire inside a regular tire and they are now spinning the same rotating speed and trying to cover the same distance, but some how you have to make up maybe 100 rotations between the two while they stay in full contact with each other.
The run flat is running against the inner wall of the main tire and even though it is flat, it still has the same amount of material on the outside and it still has to make the same amount of rotations as it did before for each turn it makes, BUT you have an inner smaller tire that will travel much less distance when it makes that same rotation.
And since they are running on each other, some thing has got to give, and this is when you see the bead break loose from the rim and your tire start wanting to come off. I know in Hummers, they had a magnesium inner rim with glued grease packs to it, so if it did go flat and you had to run on it, those grease packs broke open and helped the inner magnesium rim slip against the main rubber tire so the tire would stay on the rim as long as possible. It didn’t work very well and the tire still separated from the rim almost always. It’s just two different diameters, on the same wheel and they cover different distances per rotation and some thing has got to give.
Also, I used to be a certified mechanic, and worked on vehicles and I believe me, I wish it were different, but it’s not. Run flats suck.
The other thing is, solid tires while they may be tougher, they will transfer vibration and create stresses on frames, even with a suspension system.
Now I will give you that the military is some what backwards, and not always correct and yes, how dare they do these things, but if solid rubber tires were really that great, airlines would be using them on their aircraft and not risk peoples lives with a blowout and they’d have much longer tire life as well.
The added weight of solid tires could be reduced, because since the risk of a blowout is now zero, you do not need all those back up tires for insurance.
You still have some pretty serious landing gear suspension, so why don’t they have solid tires…..because even though it is just a shock of a few seconds during landing, that is still too much vibration to an air frame, which has enough vibration already.
It’s one thing for a bike frame to crack or vehicle have a problem and you coast to the side of the road, because of vibration, but it’s another to have it on a plane at 35,000 feet.
Also, I do believe I remembering reading back in the late 70’s or early 80’s that the Russians experimented with solid rubber tires for a short period of time, but I do not know how that turned out or what they came up with, but I do know they do not run solid tires anymore……not sure what to make of that.
On a bike, you may be 100% correct and they’re the greatest thing since canned bread and sliced beer. If you do come across solid tires, and you run them, please, post how they run after a 100 miles or whatever. Seriously, I would buy them if they work, because like I said, solid rubber tires do solve the flat problem, but I’m afraid they’ll create several more new problems in the process.
Some times the juice just ain’t worth the squeeze, but what the heck do I know. I’m always open to any and all ideas that are backed up by real world experience.
Many airless tires today, if they are not solid, use a honeycomb sidewall design that allows the tire to absorb road shock, and also lightens the tire considerably. Mostly they are used on off road or military vehicles.
A German company has a prototype for bicycles, but unfortunately, you have to 3D print it yourself.
Personally, I will stick with pneumatic tires, slime, patch kits, and spare tubes. There is a reason that every passenger vehicle in the world switched over to pneumatic tires sometime between the 19th and 20th century..
I’d go with solid tires. You can find some air ups later. You need to have as many things as possible that you can absolutely depend on. You could bury that bike when done and come back a year later and just drive it off. I love solid tires for my skid steer. I love solid tires on my bug out truck. I want to love the ones on my bike, but I just found out they make them, so the affair can’t start yet. I’m going for the hardest tire type, not tube. I don’t care how much vibration, if it gets me fifty miles ahead of danger. That way I can stop and take a break instead of stop and fix a flat, therefore, no break. I was in the military, lot of backward things there, so I won’t base my ideas on their actions.
Xenia Ohio, bicycle capital of the mid-west.
Seriously, if you like to ride come here. We have what some call the best bike paths in the nation.
Anyone who wonders about the capability and usefulness of a bicycle in a survival situation needs to look into how the Vietnamese used “pack” bikes to transfer up to 400 pounds on their ‘reinforced’ bicycles . . . down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Consider how you might ‘pack’ all your bug out gear and supplies onto such a bicycle and the possibilities might stir your imagination.Google is your friend. (sometimes)
As we discussed in a different thread on Askaprepper, the Ho Chi Minh bikes were not something you would find in your ordinary bike store. You would have to go on line and look for industrial bikes. You can find really heavy duty bikes on various websites. I have read that the typical load on a HCM bike was 200 kilograms which is 440 pounds. I saw a picture of one and it had a stick arrangement attached to the front wheel to help the bicyclist control the front wheel with that heavy load. I think the typical self-sustaining bicyclist carries between 100 and 200 pounds between front and rear panniers, handlebar bag, back pack and blanket/tent roll on the rear luggage rack. Typically they depend upon purchasing food from stores along the route and only carry enough food to get them to the next town and a little beyond. They also plan on getting water en route and only carry enough water for one day or 1 1/2 days at the most.
In a bug out situation you are going to have to carry more weight because you can’t depend on finding potable water and grocery stores open and selling food.
My present health no longer permits me to bug out by bike, but were that still within my capability, I would have front and rear panniers and a trailer. I prefer a two-wheel trailer, but acknowledge that a single wheel trailer, while it won’t carry quite as much weight, has the advantage of tracking directly behind the bike and that convenience is a factor that one should seriously consider. Going down a narrow track through the woods with a two-wheel trailer might be very difficult whereas with a single wheel trailer, if you can get the bike down the trail, the trailer will also fit.
For gearing I would not go beyond a triple chain ring and an 8-speed derailleur. When you get to 9 and 10 speeds, the chain is thinner in order to fit on that many cogs and doesn’t have the durability of an 8-speed chain and derailleur. I would go low range gearing. You don’t want a top gear that develops a lot of gear inches. You want to tell the bike shop that you want gearing that will let you ride the bike up a vertical wall with a load. Unless you are a regular bike rider, riding every day your butt will give out before your legs or lungs. That is a serious problem and you must consider having two pair of bike shorts as part of your bug out gear. You don’t have to have the tights that you see on weekend TdF wannabes. Mountain bike shorts look like regular shorts and you can even get cargo bike shorts where you can conveniently stow a small equalizer in one of the cargo pockets.
As I have said before, reasonable minds can differ.
Lidge likes solid tires for their imperviousness.
Bill is not so much in favor of solid tires.
Both positions have solid reasoning behind them to support the position.
I have a tiny wheel for a spare tire in my Honda Odyssey. I hope I never have to use it. I think I would be better off with a flat kit that puts sealant in the tire. I know the arguments against sealant but the cost of a pair of tires is a lot less than the cost of a rebuilt drive train. Also, having had considerable experience with tire sealant on my bicycle, I am a fan of sealant. I acknowledge that is not a popular opinion in the bicycle world where “true cyclists” think nothing of sitting by the side of the road fixing a flat. It is a badge of honor, sort of, to be able to fix a flat in about five minutes and if you run 700 x 19 tires with 120 pounds of pressure, you get lots of experience in roadside tire repair.
I’ll tell you, it is a very serious issue when you have two different wheel sizes, even by a tiny bit, let alone a few inches.
You change ONE thing, even a little bit and you have to look at the whole project again to make sure that change doesn’t cause a failure some where else.
If it was not THAT big of a deal, think about this, why do they worry about it with the wheel trucks on trains with SOLID axles and steel wheels attached to those axles?
How do you get two wheels of the same diameter to spin at slightly different rates when making a turn but it is all one solid assembly?
They get around this by having the rail that the train runs on, arched or curved on top, and the wheels are not flat, but more of a slight tapered cone shape with the outer edge of the wheel being slightly smaller than the inner edge towards the rim that holds the wheel on the rail.
Now what happens is this, when a train start to make a turn to the RIGHT, the natural force of the train wants to push to the left just a little. This forces the LEFT SIDE WHEELS to push UP onto the larger inner diameter of the steel wheel, and the RIGHT SIDE WHEEL will slide DOWN to the outer diameter of the wheel which is slightly smaller.
Now when the train is turning right, the left wheel is slightly larger than the right wheel and can make up the slight difference in needing to cover more distance because the outer wheel on any turn needs to go further than the inner wheel.
The crown of the rail just makes it easier for the cone shaped wheels to ride up and down as needed, and the turns are calculated to match the wheel diameter in relation to where it’s riding on its face, so you do not get galling, chatter, heat, and VIBRATION, all of which are killers to everything mechanical.
It is a big deal, but with a train weighing in at 12,000 tons or more, rubber is not an option, even solid rubber.
I know we’re getting off topic here, but learning these little things here and there, may help you in building some thing in the future where life and death are depending on it operating correctly. Just like wind generators and car alternators, if they do not have the proper bearings, the different forces applied to it will cause failure in the very near future if it is seriously used, and all that work will be for nothing, and could be a killer.
Even adding in one of those blower fans in a chimney to “RECOVER” all that lost heat going up the chimney can be very dangerous. I wouldn’t add one in mine, because even chimneys are designed to run at operating temps higher than 250 degrees to keep creosote from condensating and building up and causing a chimney fire. Heating with wood is not that hard and I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and that’s all we heated with, BUT my father made dang sure I was taught how to burn wood the right way, but that’s for another time. I’m just saying, the smallest thing that you think is great, can cause a massive failure some where else down the road if you’re not careful.
I’m really looking forward to your next article on bikes.
A tremendous amount of good info on this thread. When it comes down to absolute SHTF survival. I will be on foot and traveling the abandoned railroad tracks or bikeways where converted and either riding or walking my SHTF Bicycle (1968 Schwinn Varsity). Survival gear of choice but not so much that cant carry it on my back. We all have choices, just keep exchanging ideas, and use what you believe is the best for you. Maybe try your choices on a journey and get some first hand experience. Maybe bicycle to a nearby primitive campground and see how well you do. Of course will need to bring own food since cant hunt there. If a lake have a fishing license and try your luck, you may actually have fish for supper or find out how good you may not be at fishing. Give it a try, just might be an enjoyable week. Remember self reliance.
Good comment, Storm. I know what kind of a fisherman I am. I think I hold a world’s record for the most amount of worms drowned in the shortest period of time. Instead of fishing gear, I take extra Cliff bars. If I could get my hands on some C4 blocks and igniters I would use that method of fishing but despite suspicions by the anti self-defense crowd, I have never been unable to find C4 at the local gun show and Uncle Mike’s Ammo & Bait Shop doesn’t seem to stock it either, so it is Cliff Bars or something similar for me.