One of the things that made the late great Sheldon Brown so absolutely fantastic was his friendly eagerness to share his encyclopedic knowledge of all things bicycle. "Captain Bike" participated very actively in the wreck.bikes Usenet discussion forums as well as on Bike Forums and other online forums through his AOL account. He responded to personal emails as well as to numerous public discussion threads.
Sheldon passed two years ago next month. Nobody will ever replace him, but I wonder: Who is the go to expert for technical bicycle questions today? Is there a single well regarded expert? Do you just blast your inquiry to Twitter and hope for the best? With the widespread availability of bicycle information on the web these days, is a single expert even necessary? Is your Local Bike Shop a dependable resource for the oddball and hard to find?
What prompted this thought was this City Room article in the New York Times, in which a bike mechanic answers reader questions about flat resistant tires, spokes for touring and bike lube, but a newspaper blog doesn't quite have the personal touch that Sheldon had.
Jim Langley (bike egghead and former technical editor for Bicycling magazine) also does occasional question and answer posts of a more technical nature to his blog. Jim knows bikes inside and out, and he knows oddball experiments and brands from the past thirty years. Jim is a genuinely nice guy. I think his personality comes through on his blog, but Jim lives just a few miles from me so it's hard for me to separate the real world from our virtual interactions.
What do you think? Who is your nominee for the friendly, bike knowledgeable person you can turn to for technical bike trivia?
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Sadly, I don't think there will ever be another Sheldon Brown. The breadth of his knowledge coupled with his amazing desire to share what he knew was truly awe-inspiring.
No one even comes close. RIP Captain Bike, we miss you.