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Life’s too short to stroll in the slow lane. College living is fast-paced and requires a great quantity of movement — movement from lectures to clubs to intramural sports to study sessions to social activities galore. For those students who aren’t lucky enough to have a car on campus, a bike is the perfect companion to accompany any student to their events. The question is, though, which bike to use?
First thing is first: Leave the beach cruisers at home. Unlike most universities on California’s coast, Cal Poly is known for its hills and mountains, not its beachside riding. Beach cruisers are weighty and specifically designed for flat terrain. Unfortunately for cruisers, Cal Poly doesn’t exactly meet that description.
Despite the inefficiency of these bikes, Cambria Bicycle Outfitter employee Aaron Thielk said, “You’d be surprised how many people actually do want beach cruisers.”
Trendy they may be, but logical for Cal Poly they are not.
“The best kind of all-around bike would be a hybrid with 700c wheels and mountain handlebars,” Thielk said. “It will get you anywhere around SLO and can hold its own on light trails.”
Flanders Bicycle owner Jon Richert also praised the hybrid’s capabilities.
“It’s like a road bike, but instead of having handle bars that drop down, it has flat handlebars like a mountain bike,” Richert said. “The hybrid is just an easy, quick, smooth bike for riding on the street.”
For students seeking a splash of style in their mode of transportation, Richert recommends a city bike known as a Linus.
“It’s a vintage-looking hybrid, and it’s much easier to pedal around than a beach cruiser,” he said.
Struggling to afford such a commodity? Each year the University Police Department (UPD) hosts a bike auction where a myriad of bikes are available to bid upon. So, there are no excuses — saddle up and get riding.
According to UPD’s website, the most-committed offense on campus is property theft. Specifically, “opportunity crimes” which are the “theft of expensive, unattended and/or unsecured personal property.”
Bicycles are one of the most sought-after items for such crimes. To safeguard one’s possessions, a variety of measures can be taken. Locks are typically the first precaution.
David Bowin, an employee at Art’s SLO Cyclery, recommends the U-Lock.
“Just a standard U-Lock sells for about $30, and they’re a lot harder to cut through than cable,” Bowin said. “That’s what I use on campus.”
Richert of Flanders Bicycle said which kind of lock to purchase all depends on when you will be in need of it. For those who will have to lock their bike outside overnight, Richert also suggests the U-Lock.
“It’s just a good heavy-duty lock. It’s the most theft-resistant of the options,” Richert said.
For everyday purposes, Richert urges bike owners to consider the cable lock. Like a U-Lock, the cable lock also has the option of combination security.
“A lock that’s a little more practical is a pre-coiled cable lock,” he said. “It’s 6 feet long, so you can wrap it through your wheels and frame and lock it around a tree. The U-Lock is small, and you’re limited to bike racks.”
UPD provides services for property registration, which isn’t limited to bikes. Anything from a smartphone to a laptop can be placed in the database. After all, when it comes to burglary, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Similar to a car, a bike isn’t just a one-stop investment. If an owner hopes to keep their bike in good condition, some supplementary equipment is necessary.
Everything from wheel pumps to baskets to head and tail lights might be necessary, depending on how the bike is being used.
However, arguably the most important accessory is a helmet. Richert said that when a customer buys a bike at his shop, he makes sure to give them the opportunity to purchase a helmet as well, if need be. Other accessories one should consider are tire levers for removing the tires, a patch kit, a spare inner tube and a saddle bag to carry it all.
For those looking to get more out of their bicycles, San Luis Obispo’s mountains make for perfect recreational biking ranges.
Bowin said he, like many others, bikes at Cerro San Luis and Irish Hills.
Richert advised amateurs to check out Johnson Ranch.
“It’s a popular spot especially for people not quite as advanced — very beginner-friendly,” Richert said.
Additionally, he pointed out that Cerro San Luis is convenient for its proximity and because “it’s easy to pedal to and ride around it.”
San Luis Obispo’s majestic peaks and bewitching outdoors are far too alluring to be enjoyed via one mode of locomotion. Experience the sights of SLO through a multitude of perspectives, whether it be on two feet, in a car, atop a horse or, of course, while riding a bike.