My Brike, and when it was called Bike to Work Week

June! I’m enjoying the weather and looking forward to enjoying the summer.

I’ve always enjoyed the beginning of summer, cycling has always been a part of that. And Bike to Work Week (BTWW) is one thing that’s defined the beginning of summer for me for years. Toronto wasn’t the first to come up with the idea however we were “early adopters” and people like Sue Zielinski were instrumental in getting the city engaged. The ’80s and early ’90s was a time of considerable activism in the cycling community and the Toronto City Cycling Committee was very much a part of it. I haven’t heard or seen much from the TCCC in recent years; it seems that activism has moved out of city hall and into citizen groups like Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC). Back then, we were fighting to get bike parking — those ring and posts — as well as the first few KM of dedicated bike lanes. We’ve come quite a ways since then.

I was chair of the Bicycle Commuter Program in the early ’90s while Andrea was a co-chair of the TCCC for a number of years in the early ’90s too. I was even able to get IBM involved, something I’ve mentioned before, to host a muffin breakfast at the IBM Tower (no longer called that, it is part of the TD Centre at 79 Wellington St W) as well as getting them to sponsor a team for a race when there were still pro races at the Queens Park Circle.

I posted a newspaper article from May 1990 on Facebook that included this photo and it generated some interesting discussion so I thought I’d elaborate on that vehicle a little. And quite a few people I worked with who were around in the early ’90s will remember this vehicle… I used to ride it to work on a regular basis and even rode it on a few Rides for Heart.

I came across this thing called a “Brike” in a pamphlet somewhere and was intrigued by it. They were fairly cheap, so I ordered one and had it shipped from the States. Originally designed as a single speed with coaster brake in the front, the steering was done by leaning and pivoting the front. This was done by a couple of pivot points under and behind the seat… really just some bolts through rubber blocks. So every turn was done by leaning into it. The handle bars were just something to hold onto to help with the leaning. I had Mike Barry of Bicyclesport and Mariposa steel bikes (and much more!) fame build up a 5 speed front wheel using a Sachs 5 speed internal hub with coaster brake. That cost more than the trike itself. He had to spread the front dropout to be able to fit the wheel, not hard to do as the frame wasn’t that strong. As the trike got a few years old the front end was definitely bent from me grinding it up hills.

The rear wheels were set on an angle to help with stability however they were really hard to get aligned correctly so the tires would wear on the inside. I did flip the wheels to extend the life of the tires though, still that was one of the most challenging design aspects. With the disc covers to keep fingers out of spokes I added a standard bike child seat in back and it quickly became Kayla’s seat… I’m sure she has lots of memories of going places on the back of that trike. I know I do. 

Eventually the frame broke (climbing up the DVP at York Mills on a Ride for Heart) and I never bothered to get it fixed. I still have those wheels somewhere though : ) And to add to the geek factor, that wasn’t the only recumbent I owned… quite a few years later I bought a Trek R200, which had a 40 gear drive train. Trek only made that bike for a few years, they didn’t sell enough to be worth it I guess.

Trek R200

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