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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bicycles in Cuba

A soldier with bundles of grass loaded onto his bicycle; Guantanamo, Cuba.
Since I now have in in-laws in Cuba, and since the economic situation is still pretty tight down there, I got to wondering just what kinds of things might be helpful. The first thing I thought of was bicycles. Seems I'm not the only one thinking that. These bits are kind of illuminating. The first one is from 2014, the second looks to be from the early 1990's.

A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution under Raúl Castro
The big increase in demand for bicycles has had considerable spill-over effects on the Cuban economy. Although China has been the main supplier of bicycles to Cuba, Cuba is increasingly building more of its own bicycles and components. In 1990 the Giron bus factory in Havana was refit and retooled for the manufacture of bicycles. After its first year of operation it produced approximately 20,000 bicycles. Projected production for 1995 is 100,000 bicycles. Cubans can now manufacture all components except spokes, bearings, the rear hub and chains, and heavy-gauge seamless pipe, which comes from Mexico. The Cuban 26" wheeled bicycle is about 15 pounds lighter than the 57 lb. Chinese models and better suited for multiple purposes than the 28" Asian wheel. Cuban bikes also come in a variety of colors (now in 12 tropical varieties), and most use the all-terrain type straight handlebar.  - Cycling in Havana: Green Transportation by Default
And since we can't live by facts alone, we also have a story about the Rick-en-Billys.

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