Bicycle parked at the Davis Farmers Market
In a town where bicycles (colloquially, bikes) are more prolific than people (see the Bicycle Census), you will encounter a population of bicycles as diverse as their owners. There have been many articles written about the relationship that Davis has with its bicycles. Owing partially to Davis' almost-flat topography and an extensive network of bike paths, bicycling is a primary mode of transportation for many. If you have a bike, make sure to lock it in a designated area. If you haven't a bike (and need one), there are a plethora of bike shops to suit your needs, wants and budget. There are also many pleasant bike rides awaiting you and your bike.
Beware of shopping for a bicycle at department stores. Department store bikes are cheap toys intended for children. If you use a bike as your primary mode of transportation, you'll put more wear on the department store bike than it was designed for in a short period of time. They're built from the cheapest parts and are frequently assembled incorrectly. The brakes are frequently dangerously ineffective, especially in rain. Parts may rattle and fall off. If you do decide to go the department store route, you will end up spending more on repairs and new bikes than if you just got a nice new or used bike to begin with. You'll also have a nicer ride if you go with the nicer bike.
Tuition on Wheels Fixed Gear — This successor to the penny-farthing bicycle has no freewheel and only one gear ratio. This means that you can't coast or shift. Since it's possible to slow the bike by resisting the forward motion of the pedals, fixed gear bikes (also called fixies) often have no brakes or just a front brake. They're most often ridden on velodromes (see Track bike below) and in large cities such as San Francisco and New York. However, Davis' flat topography is ideal for fixed gear bicycles. With the help of a local bike shop, you can easily convert your old road bike into a fixie. Not all fixies are track bikes. Generally, the old road bike conversion isn't considered a track bike. Fixed gear bikes have obtained cult status amongst bike messengers. They're popular among many for their ability to Track stand with relative ease. See http://davisfixed.com.
Racer — Often made of carbon fiber, titanium or aluminum, these bicycles usually cost thousands of dollars and weigh less than most students' backpacks during finals week. If you're streaking through campus on one of these bikes, chances are that the bike cops won't be able to catch you. Also, these bikes should never be left out in the open on campus or elsewhere. If you must, take them into your office, class or lab. Often used more for exercise than transportation, your racer will be happy on one of these rides or participating in one of these events.
Recumbent — These are bikes that are ridden in a seated position with your legs out in front of you to a greater or lesser extent. The back support and full seat (somewhat like a high-tech lawn chair) make these bikes very comfortable and a good choice for long-distance commuters, heavier cyclists, and those with back problems. It's a bit like riding a comfy chair. Recumbents aren't any more difficult to ride than a traditional bike once you get the hang of it. Due to aerodynamics, they're typically faster than traditional bikes on flat ground. Many recumbents are trikes, generally with two wheels in front and one in back ("tadpole" configuration). The land speed record is set by a recumbent at 81.1mph. Due to many non-standard parts, recumbent bicycles are typically more expensive than regular ones.
Retro — A few decades ago, this bike was a young, fast, streaking racer. But with the relentless advancement of technology, these bikes became hand-me-downs or were sidelined in garages. However, they're ideal candidates for getting you around campus and town! While most freshmen buy a shiny new bike at some big box store, the old road bike will be more reliable throughout your college years. Also, these bikes are faster and have more style than a hot pink Magna. These affordable bikes can be bought at used bike shops and garage sales for less than $100. They're also ideal candidates for conversion to fixed gear.
Single speed — A close relative of the fixed gear, the single-speed bicycle has only one gear ratio but has a freewheel so the rider can coast. Fixed gear and single speed bikes have the advantage of being extremely low maintenance, since there are fewer moving parts to worry about. To spot a fixie or single-speed around Davis, just look for a road bike that's missing its dérailleur.
Tandem — A bike for two. They are quite popular in Davis, especially with families and couples. Tandem recumbents can even be spotted. However, don't ride a tandem by yourself. That's just sad. You can rent a tandem bicycle from Ken's Bike & Ski for $20 for 4 hours, or $39 a day.
Time Trial — In the same vein as the racer, but geared towards aerodynamics at the expense of comfort. They are usually used in bicycle races in which the rider races alone against the clock. If you've a time trial bike, put it to use by racing the Putah Creek Time Trial every other Wednesday during the summer. This 10 mile time trial is a great way to practice your individual time-trialing skills. Wheelworks stocks time trial bikes. APEX Cycles stocks frames and will build a TT bike to your preference and budget.
Touring — These bikes are designed to go long distances carrying loads of gear. See Bicycle touring. They often come in recumbent or tandem configurations. They are much like racers, except that they have a more relaxed geometry and generally have beefier wheels (more durable rims, more spokes). They have braze-on mounts for racks and usually have cantilever brakes to allow for larger tires and fenders. If you like the feel of a road bike but want something a bit more comfortable and durable, these might be exactly what you're looking for.
Track bike — A fixed gear designed for use in velodromes (the nearest being Hellyer Park). These never have brakes and often have tubular tires running at insanely high pressures up to 200 psi. These bikes have the bare minimum needed to ride; you won't find water bottle cage, fender, or rack mounts on these babies. This makes them a poor choice for long distance rides, but are a good way to get around town if you lower the pressure in the wheels to something reasonable to smooth out the ride.
Triathlon — These bikes are pretty much the same as time trial bikes, but geared towards the cycling leg of a triathlon. If you've a triathlon bike, put it to use by joining the Mad Cows Racing Team or UC Davis Triathlon Team. Wheelworks stocks triathlon bikes. APEX Cycles stocks frames and will build a TRI bike to your preference and budget.
Downhill — These bikes are designed so that adrenaline junkies can fly down mountains at insane speeds with confidence. They are durable, strong, have plenty of suspension (front and back) and can take on anything that gets in their way. Those who ride them can be classified as crazy and usually wear full body armor and full-face helmets to counter the potentially huge wipeouts. These bikes are perfect for trips to Northstar Ski Resort, Downieville and many other great trails that Northern California has to offer.
29'er — The 29'er is newest incarnation of the mountain bike. The 29'er is basically a mountain bike with 700c wheels instead of 26" wheels. The thought is that the bigger wheels are more efficient and roll over obstacles better than their smaller wheeled brothers. A 29'er makes a great town bike especially if you throw on some narrower tires like some 700x28, now you have a very solid town bike that can take more than a bump or two and is capable of hanging pretty well with your road bike friends.
Imposter — The imposter mountain bike is typically purchased from a big box store and, although it looks like a mountain bike, it's really not. These bikes sometimes come with full suspension, but this is deemed unnecessary as the bike is too heavy to ever get airborne. Although cheap, these imposter mountain bikes quickly start making a huge racket. As they age, parts seem to shake, rattle and fall off. It's better to buy an old non-big box store bike (one bought from an actual bike shop) than a new big box store bike that started out as a piece of crap.
Retro — Like the retro road bike, this was once an expensive mountain bike. Although age has made the bike unattractive to thieves, it still rolls well. Given Davis' topography, you may want to replace your knobby tires with a set of street tires. Mountain bikes are often more comfortable than road bikes since you ride in a more upright position. Also, they can easily carry fenders and racks for your groceries.
Serious — Unlike the so-called mountain bikes that can be bought at big box stores, the serious mountain bike is actually capable of taking on mountains. More common on campus than its road equivalent (the racer), these bikes usually have front suspension making them ideal and comfortable for handling all types of terrain. Just like the racer these bikes must be locked up with care and/or taken indoors whenever possible.
Trials — These have fat tires, low gearing, and are built to jump on tables, platforms, off ledges, across gaps, and a number of other stunts one would not have thought possible on a bike. Trials bikes are rarely seen without their riders, as their low gearing makes it difficult to actually go long distances.
BMX (Bicycle Moto-cross) — Characterized by 20" wheels, these bikes are small and maneuverable, ideal for racing on hilly tracks as well as performing jumps, spins, and other tricks. BMX originated in California. Lower quality BMX bikes have too many pegs, are brightly colored, and are sold at big box stores. Higher quality BMX bikes are much plainer looking and usually very beat up from lots of healthy abuse.
Cop Bikes — Used by Davis Police Department, they are black heavy duty road bikes. They have LED red/blue emergency lights, siren, and a black pack mounted over the rear wheel.
Cruiser — Heavy but reliable, cruisers are another great option for Davis' level terrain. Usually single-speed, they sport a comfortable seat and upright riding position. Often, cruisers come with fenders.
Cyclo-cross — These bikes are designed for races that go between pavement and rough off-road courses. These bikes generally are like racer road bikes, except with sturdier frames, lower gearing, cantilever brakes and knobby tires. if you think a road bike is too delicate for you but you want to ride fast on the road then a cyclo-cross bike may be an option for you. These heavy duty road bikes can use the same tires as most modern road bikes making them great everyday road bikes.
Ghetto — These bikes have been reincarnated by frankensteining together odd parts from old bikes. Check out the Davis Bike Collective for resources on how to assemble your very own. Luckily for you, thieves won't deign to touch your bike.
Hybrid — These bikes are some combination of a road bike and a mountain bike. They're designed for road use and light unpaved trail use and are mainly aimed at commuter cyclists. They typically have the lower gearing and straight handlebars of mountain bikes and thinner slick tires like road bikes. They may or may not have suspension. The exact balance between road and mountain varies from manufacturer to manufacture and model to model. They're a good choice for Davis, but you might want to swap the tires out for skinnier ones if you have knobbies or wider tires and you want a bit more speed and don't care for non-paved trails.
Yellow Bicycle — These strange bicycles are painted completely yellow and have City of Davis markings all over. The one in this picture was not locked. These are part of a fledgling community bicycle program.
The pleasant Davis weather year round makes for good bicycling conditions. Other towns, as this image shows, are not so fortunate.
Unicycles — While having one too few wheels to be a bicycle, the unicycle is a good way to rebel against the bicycle culture of the People's Republic of Davis. Unicycles can also go anywhere, as there are seldom any "No Unicycling" signs.
Tricycles — Obviously not a bicycle either and not just for toddlers! Road trikes are easy, comfortable, stable to ride, and an excellent option for those with balance problems or disabilities. Others use them for their performance or simply for fun. Road trikes are generally recumbent, with either two wheels in front and one in back (tadpole) or one wheel in front and two in back (delta). Trikes are great for commuting and long distance riding. Davisites also use more traditional upright trikes, often for hauling cargo.
StevenDaubert sez that his dad bought a brand new rode bike as his means of conveyance from North Davis to Campus, and promptly spray painted it black and declared that "it was no longer asthetically pleasing and now sticks out less for thieves". You got to remember the two types of bike theft, opportunity [hey I need a ride across town once, I will take this bike and ditch it] and straight out deviousness ie "My GF wants a new bike so me and my buddies are hitting up campus with bolt cutters" =\
GavinElliott is a web visitor from Australia. His town of Noosa is also cycle friendly.