The BSO or more generally known within the cyclist fraternity as the “bicycle shaped object” is a much maligned creature on our highways and byways today. They are cheap, basic bicycles, usually bought from the likes of Tesco or Asda (other corporations are available) whose very existence brings cries of derision from those who class themselves as “serious cyclists” but are they all that bad? Right, let’s get one thing straight. As a cycle for the everyday cyclist or heavy user they aren’t all that good. They are heavy, usually built from steel, have components from the dark recesses of some Chinese workshop and, if built up at all, will be built up by people who have little knowledge of bicycle mechanics and so will perform badly. Things don’t look to rosy for them do they?
But look, these aren’t supposed to be for the already converted. They are aimed at people who want to have a bike to go down the local disused railway path or canal tow path (don’t forget to read the Greenways Code by the British waterways board.) possibly as the first activity the whole family can get involved in bar watching the television. As a cheap and readily available way of getting people off the couch and onto bikes, they are unsurpassed.
“But the pure crapness of them will put people off cycling” shout the two wheeled ones. This could be true, having ridden my fair share of them, they are not as wonderful as, say a Trek or Specialised but then again a Dacia Sandero is no Ford Focus either. Do people who buy these “car shaped objects” get put off driving? I think it’s time to think of the BSO as what it really is. It’s a cheap bike and all the better for it.
- They allow people to get about in the outside (real) world, on their own or as a group.
- They are affordable to most if not all incomes. Money becomes less of a barrier to cycling and cycling becomes a classless activity.
- If you’re looking for work, it can allow you to look slightly further afield, increasing your chances of employment Many people used to cycle to work before the boom of motoring, mostly on bikes that weighed a ton! Why not learn from the past?
- They get more people onto bikes than any other form of bike out there. All these people can’t be wrong, maybe they just need your help?
They can’t be all that bad then surely?
Most of the problem of “crap” BSOs are that of build and maintenance. If there were more people out there who would stop looking down their nose and help those who have one maintain it, not only will they return to you come time to upgrade (build up a rapport with them and make them feel welcome and they will return) you can revel in the satisfaction that another person has seen that cycling is not only a wonderful green and healthy pastime but it is a truly legitimate form of transport for daily life. All this because of a small change of attitude.
It’s time to learn to love the BSO.