The bicycle is NOT humble

 

humble
ˈhʌmb(ə)l/
adjective
  1. having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance.

‘Humble’ is an overused word when it comes to cycling. It is the ‘humble’ form of transport. It’s a ‘humble’ pastime. The ‘humble’ bicycle.

NO.

I can settle for the word practical. Or even ‘beautiful’ and dare I say it ‘sexy’. But never, ever, humble. As far as cycling is concerned, I want to consign the word to history. Let’s not forget it can also mean ‘make someone feel inferior’ (as in ‘humbled’ into submission) and to my mind, there is nothing inferior about the bike AT ALL. So let’s change our mindset. Let’s be bold. Let’s get out there and be bloody positive. The next time you hear the phrase ‘The humble bicycle’, I want you to look the misguided perpetrator in square in the eyes and say the following:

Thank you for your kind comments. But I feel the need to put you straight. My bike is in no way humble. My bike is the pinnacle of man’s vehicular creativity. The machine that removes the limits of bipedal motion and allows me to flow with traffic infinitely more expensive and far less healthy for my body and the world we inhabit. We can fix the bicycle with ease and share the benefits of its utility across the social spectrum. It’s the vehicle that unlocks towns, cities, countryside and even continents. It’s the vehicle that will transport me quickly and cheaply, or allow me to bounce down mountainsides, where mountain goats fear to tread. It unlocks speed and elegance, vision and passion. It is all these things and more, but it is not, and never will be, humble. It is clever, imaginative, sturdy, beautiful and mine.

I’m glad that’s off my chest.

5 replies »

    • I see it quite a lot in cycle literature when referring – in essence – to simplicity. To me, it has a similar impact to nails dragged across a chalkboard (‘simple’ yes, humble ‘no’!)

  1. I agree with you on this. Humble is too underrated of a word to describe a bicycle. Sexy, yes. Very much so. I recently purchased a vintage cruiser. Well, more of found one on a surplus shop. The neck, symmetry, and everything was just so sexy about the bike. Don’t even get me started with the feeling of riding it. I hope people feel that way when they ride a bicycle. Or see it more than just a “humble” machine.

    • Vintage cruiser….nice! I’m swanning around on a big utilitarian beast of a city bike at the moment, a bike that says ‘comfy’, ‘efficient’, ‘couldn’t care less’. Definitely not as sexy as a cruiser, but rides like a beauty. As for humble? It ain’t, but then none of them are 😊.

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