Saturday, November 25, 2006

Flying Pigeons and Talkin' Turkey

The January/February issue of Bicycling magazine has an article on China's Flying Pigeon bicycles. Despite being produced in greater numbers than any other bicycle on the planet, the Flying Pigeon is declining. Modern Chinese want automobiles, not bikes. China has the dubious distinction of having the most dangerous roads on earth, with "250,000 traffic deaths annually - a rate 20 times higher than in the United States...Beijing officials tallied 30,000 accidents involving car and cyclists in 2004, with 10,000 injuries and 1,000 deaths. "

"The traditional Flying Pigeon (the PA-02) weighs about 50 pounds, comes only in black, has one speed and is barely stoppable with it push rod brake." These bikes travel on 28 inch wheels, with fenders, a rack, and a completely enclosed chaincase. What’s not to love? A new PA-02 costs about $30. A hot one from a street dealer costs about $5. In a country with 500 million bicycles, bike theft is a big business.

There's much to admire about the Spartan utility of Flying Pigeons. But this is still America, and despite our admiration for these simple workhorse bicycles, we just can't resist the truly outrageous.

If you're willing to part with the equivalent of 16 Flying Pigeons or $500, you can get a pair of Pearl Izumi Vertex MP3 bibs ( These bib shorts have a plug-in for an MP3 player with controls located in a soft panel on the thigh. Earbud cords are tucked under the fabric and they even have Bluetooth capability for the always-important cell phone call. The mic is located in a shoulder strap.

Now, I ask you, given the stark contrast between the Flying Pigeon - an honest workingman's bike - and the frivolous and hideously expensive shorts, is it any wonder the rest of the world thinks Americans are nuts?

But despite all that, I'm kind of fascinated at the comic possibilities of having a tinny voice crooning "I'm in the mood for love" somewhere in my shorts!


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Actually, Santa could probably use the mp3 enabled bib shorts. But where do ya plug in for the RECHARGE?

Battery life is a BIG deal, when ya got all manner of nifty electronics, mp3, cell, amp, chalk writer, wifi locator, personal cooling pump, GPS, Christmas lights.

Bikes need sum kinda alternator hooked to the dynamic motion of the wheels or maybe to solar panels. Or maybe both.

8:43 AM  

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