18 December 2009
Rage against the cheap machine
In Christmas 1909, a bottom-of-the-range bike from Gamages cost just under £4. That was equivalent to a little over an average month's wages, or 300-odd pints in a pub.
A century later, Asda will flog you a 'bike' for £70. Even on minimum wage that's only two days' earnings, and even in Wetherspoon's it's only thirty-odd pints. Or 175 profiteroles.
This is a testament to a hundred years' engineering and marketing progress: today, for a tenth of the cost, we can manufacture something that lasts a fiftieth as long...
I'm banging on about cheap bikes again in my Real Cycling column in the latest issue of Cycling Plus. No doubt there will be several bicycle-shaped objects under the Christmas tree this time next week - gaudy, crackling, stiff packages held together flimsily by sticky tape. And that's before they've been wrapped.
And as for the weather, well here in central London this morning it's nothing like last February (picture). A few flurries but no settled snow. The roads and pavements are a bit nasty with black ice, but that doesn't photograph well, being invisible. Think I'll postpone that Christmas shopping cycling trip for a while.