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Old 03-25-2019, 09:53 AM   #1
MWnRNC
 
Join Date: May 2014
Default [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

I recently got into a discussion about why bicycles aren't more common in post-apocalyptic fiction and I'm curious if the folks around here have any thoughts.

Logistics
My initial thoughts were that bikes would be less useful than draft animals because their parts wouldn't be reproducible at TL 4, whereas a post-apocalyptic subsistence farm would be more self-sufficient. I was also under the impression that after a decade or two, rubber would have all rotted unless carefully stored. However, I am not really knowledgeable about jury-rigged bicycle repair or husbandry.

Utility
Bikes seem like they would be useful for getting around city ruins and perhaps as a makeshift cart you could load your supplies and equipment onto. I tend to think that you can't carry enough while riding one to make it worthwhile as transportation over long distances. Over rough terrain, even a mountain bike doesn't seem to offer too many advantages over something slower and more sure, while a regular bike might just break. You can travel faster than on foot, sure, but would there be a premium on speed after the apocalypse?

Aesthetics
If I'm honest, probably the real reason I see so few bikes in post-apocalyptic fiction is this. Bikes aren't really stable enough for mounted combat, so you can't have cavalry charges or auto-duels. Has anyone seen any depictions of a "cool, rugged" post-apocalyptic bicycle?
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

Search for a swiss army bike, not to Long ago the swiss had bicycle troops
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

It's out there, but it's not good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkCSlIBmRmo

Old innertube tires don't last very long but newer tires would make it a generation or so before they degrade to the point where they can't hold air. But realistically almost nothing in the world is going to last more than a generation or two before it's non-functional so that kind of realism doesn't make much sense in a post apocalyptic tale.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:07 AM   #4
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

I think that one of the great stories of an ATE setting would be trying to reinvent the lost bicycle technology of the past.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:13 AM   #5
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

Quote:
Originally Posted by MWnRNC View Post
My initial thoughts were that bikes would be less useful than draft animals because their parts wouldn't be reproducible at TL 4, whereas a post-apocalyptic subsistence farm would be more self-sufficient.
Probably. A civilization that can build significant numbers of bicycles can build steam engines, and anybody who can do that has more impressive vehicle options. There's also the issue of roads - without good roads the advantage of a bicycle over walking are questionable. Even a cheap "unimproved" mountain bike trail cost $10 to 20,000 per mile to cut, and several thousand dollars a year, or equivalent volunteer effort, goes into maintaining it. If you can put together the surpluses and organization to build and maintain a network of halfway decent roads you are well on your way to recovery from the apocalypse.

Quote:
Bikes seem like they would be useful for getting around city ruins and perhaps as a makeshift cart you could load your supplies and equipment onto.
Bicycles make poor carts. Sure you can use the parts to build a better one, but then you don't have a bicycle anymore. Very limited carrying capacity definitely cuts into the utility of bicycles. They work OK if you are looking to move smallish numbers of people modest distances, so they'd be great for the protagonists in an immediate aftermath scenario. But civilizations want to move crates, or artillery pieces.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viet_C...vilian_porters

https://www.bikeshophub.com/blog/201...he-vietnam-war

https://www.bikeshophub.com/blog/201...-that-and-more
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

First thing, inflated rubber tires, for bicycles, are good for comfort. During WWII, it was not at all uncommon to see bicycles with wooden wheels. These are hard on that part of the body that supports most of the biker's weight. On the plus side, they are much tougher, and a present-day highway that has seen only average damage due to lack of maintenance would be less of a problem with these sturdier (and heavier) wheels.

Mass production of bicycles requires decent metalworking industries. But in a post-apocalypse scenario you could probably have bicycles for a century, based on parts scavenged by other bikes. Blacksmith's workshops would adapt parts. You'd have a nice market for spare parts.

As to aesthetics and speed, a case can be made for 4-wheeled carts that are normally pedal-propelled - and thus even slower than a bike. However, in emergencies (read combat and evasion), they carry a pair of solid-fuel rockets. This is TL3-4 tech. The boost is measured at most in tens of seconds, otherwise they'd be too heavy for everyday travel. But they'd make for a few exciting high-speed moments.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

Quote:
Originally Posted by MWnRNC View Post
My initial thoughts were that bikes would be less useful than draft animals because their parts wouldn't be reproducible at TL 4, whereas a post-apocalyptic subsistence farm would be more self-sufficient.
This one comes down to the 'needs of the survivors'. Do they have a subsistence farm and enough fodder land to care for the draft/riding animals? Do they live in the bombed out crumbling remains of the megasprawl that covers the entire state of Texicohoma?

Quote:
I was also under the impression that after a decade or two, rubber would have all rotted unless carefully stored.
If left to the elements? Yeah, might not even make it 5 years. On the other hand I've a pair of tires hanging in my garage that are still in tip-top shape after a decade.

Quote:
However, I am not really knowledgeable about jury-rigged bicycle repair or husbandry.
I know next to nothing about animal husbandry. Except which end the food goes in, and which end it comes out of.

But bicycles? I'm your Huckleberry.

Quote:
I tend to think that you can't carry enough while riding one to make it worthwhile as transportation over long distances.
This is false. I can easily carry as much on my back as I can on a bike. And if it's got a front basket and a platform for saddlebags over the rear tire, I can double or triple that. And that's just a regular bike. If it's designed for long distance hauling (like a trike) it can easily have more cargo on the bike, and haul a trailer (a regular bicycle can haul a trailer as well, but most aren't designed with a hitch in mind).

Quote:
Over rough terrain, even a mountain bike doesn't seem to offer too many advantages over something slower and more sure, while a regular bike might just break.
On rough enough terrain you'll be walking it. But you'd also be walking your mount.

Quote:
You can travel faster than on foot, sure, but would there be a premium on speed after the apocalypse?
If it's a hundred miles from your city to the next one and you've heard rumors of an unraided Supermart there? Yup. Five raiders, three with long haul trikes and trailers and two with off-road 'outriders' could easily get there and back in 8-10 days with enough supplies to last over a month once they returned.

With decent roads a cyclist can average 25 mph. On dirt roads call 10, tops (with the right bike).

Walking? Your top out is around 4 mph.

Quote:
Bikes aren't really stable enough for mounted combat, so you can't have cavalry charges or auto-duels.
They can be. BMX and similar off-road bikes are plenty stable. Me and my friends used to joust as kids on our bikes (till someone broke an arm). Hoodlums used to ride around smashing mailboxes with bats when I was a wee lad.

Quote:
Has anyone seen any depictions of a "cool, rugged" post-apocalyptic bicycle?
Google Image Search is right up there my man... but let me save you some time...


Firstly 13 Reasons Bicycles Are Perfect for the Zombie Apocalypse (though works in other apocs too):


Oooohhh... those chunky tires... mmmm /biteslip.jpg
https://forums.mtbr.com/attachments/...itch-witch.jpg

Electric bicycles (we called these mopeds back in my day and they were a PITA to bicycle. on but if you ran out of gas, it was better than walking)... but mmmmmm, look at those thicc hard-pack tires...
https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/ima...pedelec_13.jpg

Snow-chains on chunky tires? Yes please!
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...A330J2hwZf977A

Off-road recumbent trike... /shudderofdelight.jpg (If it were mine I'd contemplate leaning the seat back/raising it up a bit more and raising up the peddles, gain some more ground clearance)
http://www.reactiveadaptations.com/w...9-1030x689.jpg

This is DIY 'post-apoc' outrider in the 'almost done' build stage (I think it's also an electric moped):
https://p.vitalmtb.com/photos/users/...jpg?1460788286

Portage:
This loadout is on a bicycle recumbent touring bike, but it gives his weight load-outs. He travelled from Moscow to beijing with this set-up... (let that sink in)
https://kickasstrips.com/wp-content/...mbent-bike.jpg

Excellent rear saddlebag frames:
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/01/c0...d1e41ae2ec.jpg

Excellent camo outrider with minimal packing all around, but a great example of a 'camping/hunting' bike (and note teh pistol holster and knife on the center bar):
https://cdn.instructables.com/FPX/AP...PB5P.LARGE.jpg

Nice center baggage mount with slim saddlebags possibility. Also, while I admire that old german spring wheel, that'd be a nightmare to handle.
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e4/e2...42fc523d6d.png

Great 'covered wagon' style trailer:
43axCCUAhVfIqAx8VnGj-
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/16/d9...4cad6ca6e3.jpg

I love that undercarriage mount! Why didn't I ever think of that before? (note, this is a tandem bike with a recumbent front seat, but this chick is using it for groceries!)
https://hasebikes.com/files/citybag_coll.jpg

There are professional trailer hitches, but great examples of what will easily fit on a mountain bike.... I wouldn't go mountaineering with it... but for jaunts to the next town and back to get dry goods...
https://66.media.tumblr.com/974d426a...czxww_1280.png
https://outdoorgearlab-mvnab3pwrvp3t...2235_832_L.jpg

MOAR chunky tires, but with nice front and rear saddle mounts:
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ed/07...45c1895d5f.jpg

This dude is taking house for a ride...
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...mO0Ft3t05xnd4-

Excellent example of touring trike kit-outs!
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2456/...0f4b9ba1_o.jpg
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/6We3vqS6IWE/maxresdefault.jpg

Mmm, chunky tires (but they're 'street' chunguses), and I think he's got the height to handle decentish off-roading:
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3c/2c...935abbecd9.jpg

I'm not entirely sure what all is going on here, and stability looks like it would be an issue... but this guy has a decent hauling capacity:
https://i.pinimg.com/236x/61/ed/2d/6...g-trailers.jpg

Another "what is going on here", it looks like they hooked up a pair of car batteries to run an electric motor to run the bike (so not an actual bicycle, but...), but this DIY quad has hauling potential:
http://wabikes.org/wp-content/upload...se-getaway.jpg

Did they just build a pontoon bike?
http://mykle.com/msl/wp-content/uplo...ng-400x300.jpg

He's not really carrying much, but the dedication to the DIYness screams post-aop:
https://rustybikebell.files.wordpres...6/img_0666.jpg

This is junker, but I admire his post-apoc loading skill. Teamster? I think this would be Teamster...
https://drscdn.500px.org/photo/24529...96e9471d1a0da3


When I say "long haul trike" this is what I'm talking about:
https://hasebikes.com/files/kw_allround_a.jpg


Weather Protection
This is a quad bicycle in Sweden, I'd like to see someone do that with a horse:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/resiz...odbikePic2.jpg

Some DIY rain covers:
https://www.eta.co.uk/wp-content/upl...-cycle-web.jpg

Other Stuff...

I have no idea what's going on here, but I like the 'cowcatcher' up front. Not sure of it's utility though...
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...aqKkz5TytihkE0

Someone's idea of a 'post-apoc' bicycle (I think the front fender and wheel posts are for front saddlebags):
https://ratrodbikes.com/forum/proxy....24602b2ead66ad

And last but not least (but least useful for post-apoc) the BEHEMOTH! SOTA touring bike back in the early 90s when this guy toured with it...
https://www.cyclingabout.com/heavies...ever-behemoth/

Last edited by evileeyore; 03-25-2019 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

It is not outside the realm of reasonableness for there to be a decent enough road network for bicycles at lower tech levels, note the Chinese wheelbarrow networks in China.

https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011...eelbarrow.html

Also bicycle troops were a fairly wide spread idea in the 1930's.

Lastly, there is a picture of post occupation Dutch nor Danes riding bikes on the rims do to rubber shortages during WW II, my google fu fails me, or I would link to a picture.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: [AtE] Bicycling in the Post-Apocalypse

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
First thing, inflated rubber tires, for bicycles, are good for comfort. During WWII, it was not at all uncommon to see bicycles with wooden wheels. These are hard on that part of the body that supports most of the biker's weight. On the plus side, they are much tougher, and a present-day highway that has seen only average damage due to lack of maintenance would be less of a problem with these sturdier (and heavier) wheels.
...
The first bikes, velocipedes, with stiff frames and wooden wheels were called boneshakers for a reason.
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