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Richard Schwinn Talks Advocacy on “The Outspoken Cyclist”

by Ted Johnson

I’ve recently discovered The Outspoken Cyclist podcast (iTunes), from WJCU in Cleveland.

The first episode to which I listened was with Richard Schwinn of Waterford Precision Bicycles (and a descendant of Ignaz Schwinn, founder of the Schwinn Bicycle Company).  Although the interview did not cover the fate of the Schwinn brand, which has been thoroughly lamented for over 15 years, it covered topics we’ve been following here on Commute by Bike (and also left me feeling much more informed about the different kinds of welding).

I highly recommend giving this episode a listen:

Here are some highlights:

On Cycling Advocacy vis-a-vis the 112th Congress (36:45)

Schwinn Paramount Logo

The bicycle is one of the ways that cities become much more livable.

[...]

If you are a Republican, you would want to support cycling, because if you want to see the cost of living go down, then you get people out of cars and into cycling.

[...]

If you expect America to succeed, to increase wealth, we have to get the cost of living down, so that we don’t have to have such high wages in order for people to live a good life… Cycling is a key part of it. You want to reduce the cost of education? Get kids back riding bikes back to school. Because the number two budget item in the school budget is busing. Everyone is being bused, not for racial integration, but because the roads are too dangerous to walk or to cycle. If you fix the problem of the roads and safety for cyclists, you’ve now cut down the budget for schools. By the way, you’ve also cut down the budget for roads.

[...]

If you really want to reduce the things that are driving up the cost of government, it’s really going to happen by improving the infrastructure for cycling, and for pedestrian activities, and mass transit, and things like that.

On Steel Framed Bicycles (7:40)

When you add up all the benefits [of steel], they so far outweigh the problems with it, it still remains the best material.

On Weight Weenies (17:59)

What [titanium frame maker Litespeed] discovered is, the less sophisticated the rider, the more important weight was to them. And so their lightest bike was their cheapest bike.

On the History and Varieties of Welding (19:50)

Sorry, there’s no snappy quote from this section. But if you’ve ever wondered what bike geeks are talking about when they talk about metals and welds, listen to this. If not, skip to…

On The Engineering Marvel That is a Bicycle (29:55)

The thing about a bike that I think few people really recognize, is that a bike is perhaps the most demanding mechanical structure that is made by man.

[...]

We design a bike frame way closer to the engineering limits of the tube, and we’ve done so for over a century.

[...]

You can’t break two tubes on a bike without something really bad happening.

 
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