Argument about a bicycle


The RT Mart is now selling a “UK Design” bicycle for NT$ 2,074 [US$70]. I’ve been saying for months that I’ll wait until my bike has completely disintegrated before buying a new one. A few points on this topic:

1. If that is my position, I should have started looking around for a new bike three months ago. One of the inner tubes had a puncture, both front and back tires were worn out, the brakes had stopped working properly, and the bike creaked and moaned as only a piece of metal can that should have come to rest in a junkyard ten years ago. What I did, of course, was to fix everything.

2. A bicycle rarely stops working like a computer or a computer monitor. A computer works fine one day, then the next day it’s nothing but ones and zeroes and lights flashing and screens freezing. Then you take it to the computer store, where the technician informs you that you might just as well buy a new computer. Same with a computer monitor: first some flickering, then poof. A bicycle, on the other hand, breaks. Then you identify the problem (usually fairly obvious), and you either fix it yourself or you pay someone to do it for you. Then it’s good for another few weeks. If you wait until a bicycle has completely exhausted its natural life, you may have to wait a long time. (For the record, my previous bicycle had indeed achieved that status. It was duly replaced with the current bike which was about twenty years older than the previous one.)

3. At the RT Mart there are also bicycles for NT$3,500 and as high as NT$5,000 – and then you’d have to leave the bicycle section at the supermarket for a proper bike shop where you can expect to pay between five and ten times as much for bikes that are between ten and twenty times better quality. Nevertheless, why not just go for the NT$4,000 bike rather than the NT$2,074 “UK Design”? Because, as I see it, all the supermarket bicycles are equally fragile. A cable will inevitably snap within a few months anyways. The seat will probably fall off within six months. The frame will probably buckle, the brakes will stop working, and the gears will slide graciously from slow to fast and back again for only about two weeks before it gets stuck in tenth gear. So, whether it’s NT$2,074 or NT$4,250, it’s not NT$25,000 or NT$49,500.

4. It would be better to retire my current granny-style bicycle now. That way I’ll know I’d be able to air up the tires any time in the future, when circumstances require, get on it and again ride like the wind – if the wind is blowing strong enough that day.

That’s it, then. I’m buying a new bike before the end of the month.

And at NT$2,074 I can even afford to reward the old Black Peril for good service with a new seat before giving her some space in the back room.


Update: It actually took me another nine months before I forked out NT$2,500 for an exact copy of my old bike, but at least brand new.

The new bicycle – a few years later