Anyone want to go Dutch?

Gazelle Toer

12 thoughts on “Anyone want to go Dutch?

    1. Simon Kennett

      Megan has legs of steel! I’d be mighty, mighty impressed to see somebody glide up Ngaio Gorge on one of those. Guess the Dutch don’t have hills like those, though. I can seeing it working well for those living on the flat, until you want to visit a friend in Karori or Khandallah – then most folk will want a wider range of gears.

      Have been doing a bit of 7-speed riding on the folders lately – it’s fine (if you can chuck your bike on the bus or train for the really big hills). My own folder has 27 gears and I use all of them on my commute between work and Northland via the steeper route less travelled.


      1. Lisa

        If me, I will catch the train to Khandallah no matter how many gears I have! Non-folders are still allowed in off-peak times, right?

        I presume the range of Megan’s 8 gears is greater than the 12 on my bike.


      2. Megan

        My ears were burning! Uh, okay kids, I don’t have legs of steel. You’ve seen them. They’re actually just gangly ol’ poles that do a fair job of getting me around although they’re shit when it comes to managing to walk without tripping.

        I will remind you, as I remind almost everyone in Wellington who says I can’t go places with my 8 speeds, I go where I will. I rode on all the big hills in San Francisco, and occasionally walked, but I never didn’t make it to the top of a hill. These days, I ride over from Lyall Bay to Newtown sometimes and I’ve ridden up the hills of Hataitai and Mt. Vic. Hills are just hills. Although they’re way more fun to ride down than up, it doesn’t mean they’re insurmountable with 8 speeds or even three.

        If I had to ride up Ngaio Gorge, I’d go as far as I could and then I’d hop off and walk, I guess. It sounds daunting but I think the limitations we (or the makers of million gear bikes) impose are usually unnecessary.

        My partner commuted on an old Schwinn Racer (three speeds) for a long time, and he rode two killer hill every evening. Before I got my 8-speed, I was riding a three-speed cruiser everywhere I went.

        I just looked up the SF topo map to see what kind of grades we were riding ( My nightly commute took me on a 2.5 mile ride, the last .7 of a mile of which was a bunch of hills that varied from 5 to 18% grade. My partner’s ride started with almost a mile on a hill between 10-18%. He coasted from there, another 2 miles, but then he had to ride up the same damn .7 mile 5-18% grade to get home. No clips, no lycra, no million gears. Just folks on bikes who were willing to walk sometimes but usually didn’t have to.


      3. Simon Kennett

        Megan and her partner have legs of steel!

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate internal hub gears – they help expanded my world when I was a Dunedin teenager (in much the same way as derailleur gears helped expand my world even further a couple of years later). I pretty sure that people generally prefer to ride rather walk their bike up hills – a wide range of gears facilitates people riding up a wide range of gradients.

        What does that mean for the promotion of cycling as a mode of transport in Wellington?

        Consider that in 1986 Wellington had the lowest cycle to work figures of the six main centres in NZ. Why? We have the hilliest terrain (Dunedin is a close second, but as least its University is on the flat). 1986 was the year the triple crankset started to take off here, and Wellington has seen an increase in the number of cycle commuters ever since (while all of the other main centres have seen a huge decrease in cycling between 1986 and 2006). Wellington now ranks fourth for cycle to work mode share (behind the relatively flat Christchurch, Nelson and Hamilton).

        For cyclists young and old, weak and tired, the triple crankset has opened up Wellington’s roads like never before.


  1. Bullitt

    Most people have far more gears than they need. Last year I regularly rode up brooklyn hill (ncluding bidwill street) on a single speed. It didnt take much strength, just fitness.

    I know a lot of people wouldnt be fit enough to manage that but Id be surprised if anyone who rode semi regularly couldnt ride almost anywhere with a 3 speed let alone 8 or more.


    1. Simon Kennett

      There’s a bike testing hill for you! Point a number of ‘normal’ people up Bidwill St and ask them to try a range of bikes. Ask for pereceptions of effort at the top.


  2. atom

    there’s a difference between “can” and “should”. higher cadence keeps wear-n-tear on the knees low. lower cadence and brute force will wear out a bottom-bracket, and also wear out some parts that require a surgeon to fix/replace 😉

    the right number of gears for me is whatever it takes to keep the cadence high and the brute force low.


  3. Pingback: Thursday fun linkpile : Cycling in Wellington

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