A bicycle as bug-out vehicle?

This entry was posted by on Monday, 14 November, 2011 at

On the Internet (and Youtube in particular) you can find a lot going on about Bug-out vehicles. People prepare their vehicle for emergency situations, to head out to their cabin in the mountains or wherever when the “Shit hits the fan” (SHTF). I wonder, besides the destination, is the way of getting there really the best?

Whenever there’s a soccer match here in town I’m always amazed by the huge number of people, and even more so by the enormous chaos it creates on the roads. I mean, there’s “normal” rush hour and then there’s absolute mayhem as a few tens of thousands of people try to inch their way to the stadium in their vehicles. Now, this is only a fraction of the total population. Just imagine that – for whatever reason, but let’s take a chemical plant with some “troubles” as an example – a large portion of the populace decides to take their car and get the heck out of dodge.

Think rush hour times a hundred. Traffic is not moving, people panic and accidents occur. Broken-down vehicles or vehicles without gas block the way and the onramps to the highways – and the highways themselves – are completely clogged. What do you do?

“I’ll get me a big four-by-four” is what I see on Youtube. Nice, but can it climb the dividers on the highway? Sure it gives you more options when a vehicle blocks your path than a regular vehicle. And it is a lot more affordable (and in most cases more legal!) than a Humvee or any other kind of military vehicle (think Oshkosh, Fennek, Marauder and the like).

No, I think that, independent of the nature of the calamity, you will be better of riding a bike. With some practice and good health you can easily cover over 100km per day. It does not need gas (think of it, this may be the first thing we run out of when SHTF!) and you can just paddle in between all the cars parked on the highway. In fact, you can also ride paths and trails inaccessible to larger vehicles, oftentimes finding shortcuts.

With proper bags you can carry quite a load on a bike. Of course you take your bug-out bag, but a bike provides good capacity for carrying a tent, sleeping bag, and water. With plenty of water and food, your bicycle is a vehicle running on renewable energy. With run-flat tires and some good stamina, there is nothing that can stop you. Not even traffic jams!

I’m interested in other people’s opinions on using a bicycle in stead of a car, just post a comment below!

An interesting (and very complete) overview by cernunnos5 on youtube, discussing what he calls an “Apocalypse Specific Bicycle”:

3 Responses to “A bicycle as bug-out vehicle?”

  1. I like the thought of using a bicycle. I always say a horse is the best option and still think that way, but a bike would come close second. A few things a horse can do that a bike can’t would be to keep you warm at night with their body heat, swim across a river, go places even a bike can’t etc.. but a bicycle is definitely better than a car in my opinion. =)
    Cheers!

  2. Thanks, to be honest the horse never came to my mind… but then one could reason that large parts of the world were conquered on horseback (and not on bicycle ;) so I’d say it is a tried-and-tested method.

    After looking into the difference between riding a horse and a bike, I came across various sources stating a bike would outrun a horse. Cernunnos5, in his Youtube video, says a man on a bike can ride a horse to death in three days because humans can shed their bodyheat more easily (and, especially on pavement, a bike is very efficient). Other articles, like this article on bicycling.co.za, describe a cross-country performance which is about equal (with a small victory for the bike rider). But then, this is a highly trained bike rider and the challenge was more a sprint than a long-term race.

    I think, in the long run, it boils down to logistics. Just like a car requires lots of fuel, a horse requires food. I suppose it could feed on local vegetation but if you would have to carry it all with you (like you will probably do with your own food and water) you may run into logistic problems.

  3. Just another thought on using a bike; make sure you have some spare inner tubes and some other parts like a chain, brake wires and the like. This way you’ll be able to do your own maintenance if needed.

    Also, opt for a bicycle without suspension, this for two reasons. Reason one is that it is added complexity and probably the first part to fail. The second reason is that these suspension systems can absorb a lot of energy. Energy which is better directly applied to the road – in other words: they are less efficient than a rigid frame.


Leave a Reply