It would be nice to believe that in a survival situation we’ll still be able to drive our cars around, and in short term emergencies, we still can. But if the ultimate meltdown occurs, where are you going to get gas? If the ultimate survival scenario does take place and society disintegrates into a series of fractured communities with no real government, the infrastructure goes away. Big business will no longer be able to operate, and your money will become useless, except to wipe certain parts of your anatomy. Or maybe to take note on. so how are you going to get around? Out choices are limited in this scenario. Country folk can have horses, and many do already. But they have the pastures and stables to care for our equine friends. It’s kind of difficult to look at how you can care for a horse if you live in a high rise.
And speaking of the high rise dwelling, your first plan when the melt down comes should be to get yourself gone from that environment. That’s the last place you want to be surviving in, if you even can.
Gasoline deliveries to the retailers will stop, partly because there will be no one to deliver the goods, but mostly because there will be no one to distill the oil that will no longer be pumped out of the ground into gasoline. The roadways will begin to deteriorate as there will no longer be any government highway crews to keep up the maintenance of the highway system. Your choices for the most part will be limited to foot-power, or the ultimate survival vehicle, the bicycle.
There are a lot of choices to be made when it comes to two wheeled vehicles, but as a guideline I would suggest that you get the best quality bicycle that you can buy with the money you have. Some bikes run into thousands of dollars, but you really don’t need to spend that kind of money, either. Remember that in the costs of your purchase you should budget for things like spare parts, tires and tubes, panniers and other equipment. With the right set up you could actually plan to survive for years as a biking nomad, if you really wanted to do that sort of thing. But don’t forget one important detail if that is your choice. That one thing is the fact that as we get older, we do not get any younger.
As to what brand, that choice is yours. Again, bear in mind that you needn’t spend several thousand dollars on a bicycle, unless you can afford to. I purchased one off the rack at a local chain store three years ago and it still works fine after changing out the factory parts with better quality ones from a bike shop. There are two major points you need to look at when buying a survival bicycle. Number one is the terrain you will be using it in, and number two, do you have a family to consider.
Basically, there are three types of bicycles that you can buy on the general market; street, off-road, and what I call the ride around the block bike. There are sub categories in each of these main types which will narrow your decision down to an even finer category. For touring bikes you have the higher quality touring set ups, the urban bike, and the racing bike. Off road bikes include the mountain bike and what some call a BMX bike. A BMX might be a blast to ride and you can pull some cool stunts with them, but they are useless over the long haul. The around the block bike should be avoided if you want a bike to last for years. These include the designer style bikes that look flashy and often come branded with some famous name attached to it somehow. They also include the kids bikes that are OK for kids riding around after school, but also will not hold up well.
For most purposes, if you will continue living in a populated area, you shouldn’t need a mountain bike at first. As the streets deteriorate you will find that the benefits of a mountain bike may come in handy though. The advantage of a good mountain bike is that the frame is usually stronger that the frame on a street bike, although for most brands on the mass market there seems to be little difference. The advantages of a street bike is that the suspension and braking system is much more comfortable and easier to use that with the mountain bike. A mountain bikes suspension is practically nonexistent, by the way, compared to a street bike. The best option is a bike that has a sturdy frame, but more comfortable suspension, tires and breaking system.
So here’s what I came up with for my own personal survival transport—
I bought a higher end mass market bicycle with what is called a street, or urban frame. It’s a heavy bike, but sturdy as all get out, and gets me to where I want to go. It takes a little more effort, but it was worth the cost, which was under two hundred dollars. I’ve been on several highway trips approaching 100 miles in length, and one a tad over one hundred miles, and I have owned the bike for three years now. I’ve had to replace the cassette (the big gear thingy on the back wheel) because some of the teeth wore off, but other than flat tires have had no further problems. I bought an aftermarket chain made of better construction and some off road tires for wet weather and rough road driving as well. I also replaced the bearing with better quality bearing sets as well.
The back sports a pannier rack and a pair of large panniers, and I have a detachable front pack with a map case on the lid. On the pannier rack I also have an expandable rack bag as well. I only wish that these packs had D-rings so I could more easily attach things like a tent and sleeping bag. I did learn that even though the sales-jerk said the pannier bags were waterproof, they aren’t. I learned all about packing in plastic after that soggy trip.
With a headlight and rear light I’m all set to go the distance on this jobby. Because of the frame weight, it’s a little heavier loaded than a regular touring bike would be, but I wanted a frame though would last for many years, just in case. To be on the safe side, and to remain in a prepared state, I would suggest you have on hand the following:
- Extra chain
- Chain link repair kit
- Spare inner tubes
- Tube patches and adhesive
- Spare tire
- Spare brake cable
- Spare gear shift cable
- Brake pads, at least two sets
- A few extra spokes
This list is just for the long haul, and to be considered an emergency supply kit. You should also have the usual parts and pieces in your riding/tool bag such as;
- One set brake pads
- Chain links
- Bicycle multi tool
- Tire repair kit (spoons, patches, adhesive etc.)
- Air pump
- Lube and cleaner
- Extra screws for all moveable parts (shifter, derailleur etc.)
This is a pretty simplistic overview, and perhaps sometime I’ll go into more detail on some different aspects. I know some purists will disagree with me, but I am looking at worst case scenarios here. Buying and preparing a bike for an extended camping trip is totally different than preparing for the end of transportation as we know it. If for some reason the refineries stopped working, the gas would stop being delivered to your local station, and then where would you be? Fancy summer highway bikes would have a hard time adapting to be ridden in a snowstorm, and a sturdy mountain bike would be quite uncomfortable for a three hundred mile highway ride. I am trying to suggest a compromise that will last for a long time, and require minimal repair work.
As usual, I suggest you take the time to learn all you can about the issue, and make the best choice you can for the money you have available to invest. In many countries people use a bicycle as a main means of transportation. Take a look at what they are pedaling around and you’ll see that most of the bicycles in use look very much like the arrangement I’ve suggested. If it works for them, why won’t it work for us as we survive the coming times?