World Bicycle Relief provides heavy-duty bicycles to people in the developing world, and my friend John participated in a WBR fundraiser this weekend. They had a raffle at the end, and much to his surprise, he won a bike! Not just any bike, but one of the custom-designed bikes that the organization distributes in the field.
The bike weighs 55 pounds. It has one gear. The tires are made of car-grade rubber, and say "Inflate Hard" on the side. The rear rack carries 200 pounds. There's a toolkit attached, in a case made of recycled car tire. This is one no-nonsense machine.
We tried it out this afternoon. It was pretty fun -- the handling is much different than anything I've tried before. It's big and hefty like the Capital Bikeshare bikes, but has an extremely long wheelbase and swept-back handle bars. Its one gear is actually pretty high, and I had to stand up and really mash on the pedals to make it to the top of the hill at the exit of the parking lot. I put a few pictures up on Flickr if you'd like to see.
(Incidentally, John doesn't think he can keep the bike because it barely fits in his apartment. He's thinking he'll "sell" it to someone who's willing to make a donation to WBR. If you're in the DC area and are interested, let me know.)