Bike Laws

Wisdom of the Ages

I am sure many of you know that cycling is its own little universe and each style of cycling is its own little world. With each style of cycling you get your own lingo such as in Road Biking; peloton, presta, kit, and Mountain Biking 3.0 knobies, shredding, DH, and Transportation Cycling; Idaho Stop, Lahood, AASHTO, sharrow, etc. While all of these styles have little differences here and there in the end we are still riding our bicycles wether that be for health, fun, transportation, or because the car broke down. Over the years there have been some interesting and educational guides that have poped up for cyclists new and seasoned. I have compiled the three that I would consider essential for every cyclist to read through while giving you a little taste of what each has to offer.


The first guide that we have to start with is the one from Rivendell Bicycle Works. Not only have these guys brought cycling the S240 and beautifully crafted bicycles. They have also been a huge influence in cycle touring as well as transportation geeks. There guide is called “Tips For Happy Riding.” Here is a little taste of its awesomeness;

At least one ride in 10, go without your sunglasses and gloves. Sometime next month, put some double-sided cheap-style pedals on a good bike and ride in non-cycling garb. It works shockingly well, and sends a good message to would-be bicycle riders.

If you ride in a group, bring food for you and somebody who forgot to.

Go for a one-hour ride underdressed sometime, because it’s good to be really cold on a bike every now and then.The reverse (overdressing in hot weather) is not necessary!

Shoot photos on your rides and give them away.

Feel comfortable mixing high tech and low tech, old and new parts and technologies, and don’t apologize to anybody for it.

Don’t always shop by price and never ask for discounts at your local bike shop. Every time you go into a bike shop, spend at least $2, and if you ask a question and get good advice, spend $5.

If you buy a stock bike, do something to it that makes it the only one exactly like it in the world.

(Bicycle as Life, Life as Bicycle)


Next up in the list is  a relatively new addition to the cannon of cycling information. However as someone who has been wrenching on bikes professionally on and off for 13 years I can say this guide is here to stay. And for better or worse I am not the only one. This guide comes from the ever amazing Surly Bikes. These guys have been doing it steel before steel was vintage.There guide is simply, “Some Answers to Just About Any Bike Forum Post I’ve Ever Read.” Here is a little taste;

If you think your bike looks good, it does.

If you like the way your bike rides, it’s an awesome bike.

Hey, tattooed and pierced long shorts wearin flat brim hat red bull drinkin white Oakley sportin rad person on your full suspension big hit bike – nice work out there.

Hey, little round glasses pocket protector collared shirt skid lid rear view mirror sandal wearing schwalbe marathon running pletscher two-leg kickstand tourist – good job.

Hey, shaved leg skinny as hell super duper tan line hear rate monitor checking power tap train in the basement all winter super loud lycra kit million dollar wheels racer – keep it up.

No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until someone gets on it to ride.

Your bikeshop is not trying to screw you. They’re trying to stay open.

(Rule #9)


The last rules/guide we will look at comes from the Velominati Keepers of the Cog. These rules apply more to road biking than anything else but, they are all about old school road riding on a dirt road with a fixed gear in the rain. Not to mention they love bicycles and have many rules that apply to all of us. There guide is appropriately  called, “The Rules“, and while the guide is awesome there may be some language in a few of the rules that may not be for everyone. From The Rules;

Rule #4

 / It’s all about the bike.

It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike.

Rule #12

 / The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.  This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

Rule #16

 / Respect the jersey.

Championship and race leader jerseys must only be worn if you’ve won the championship or led the race.

Rule #58

 / Support your local bike shop.

Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online.  Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staff’s time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife, then having a beer with him after. Online is evil and will be the death of the bike shop. If you do purchase parts online, be prepared to mount and maintain them yourself. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.

Rule #65

 / Maintain and respect your machine.

Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence and as such must be meticulously maintained. It must be cherished, and when leaning it against a wall, must be leaned carefully such that only the bars, saddle, or tires come in contact with the wall or post.  This is true even when dismounting prior to collapsing after the World Championship Time Trial. No squeaks, creaks, or chain noise allowed. Only the soothing hum of your tires upon the tarmac and the rhythm of your breathing may be audible when riding. When riding the Pave, the sound of chain slap is acceptable. The Principle of Silence can be extended to say that if you are suffering such that your breathing begins to adversely effect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped.

Well there you have it a compendium of bicycle words and wisdom. As you will notice all three come from different sources and backgrounds and yet all three agree on certain things; support your local bike shop, love your bike, enjoy your bike, and most important, regardless of the type, ride your bike. Some of you may have noticed that I have made no mention of Sheldon Brown. The reason for this is because Sheldon is on a plane of his own and should be constantly visited and read and re-read.

I hope that you enjoy the reading. Pick and choose which rules/guidelines apply to you while you compile your list of essential riding wisdom. If I have missed anything you deem essential or if you have your own little tidbits to add please let us know in the comments. See you out and about pedaling around wether it is in the sun or in the rain, on a beach cruiser or on a race bike, on the pavement or on the dirt.


Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *