Gear Prudence: I’m new to biking, so I don’t know what’s considered normal, but here’s something I don’t get at all: Why do people name their bikes? Is this a thing that a lot of people do or are my bike friends just weirdos? — Cyclists Obviously Going Nuts Over Meaningless Egregious Naming

Dear COGNOMEN: Your bike friends are weirdos. Not because they name their bikes but because there must be something off about them if you felt compelled to ask GP this rather than simply shrugging off the supposed eccentricity or just joining in on the anthropomorphizing fun. People name their bikes to imbue them with a sense of specialness. Most bike brand names are boring, and odds are there are countless other riders out there with the same exact ride. But how many others are riding Shadowfax or Rocinante? OK, maybe a lot. Don’t name your bike after a horse. It diminishes both mounts. Literary allusions are fun (and demonstrate that you went to college), but what you need is a highly personalized moniker. Take the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on and then don’t use either of those because they’re probably totally inappropriate for a bicycle. Be creative. Of course, naming your bike is hardly a prerequisite, and it’s far better to leave it nameless than to half-ass it or feel self-conscious about it. But if you like naming your stuff, go nuts.—GP

Gear Prudence: Why do bike lights even have a flash setting? Flashing lights are terrible and needlessly blinding, especially on dark trails. Car lights don’t flash—they’re just a steady beam. Is there some historical or technical reason why bike lights would need to flash? — Flickering Lights Annoy So Hard

Dear FLASH: “It’s to cut through the clutter,” says Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz.com. “Bike lights never used to be as strong as car lights so were made to blink (hence their first nickname, blinkies).” In the pre-LED world, when cyclists couldn’t pack nearly as many lumens as is customary now, the blinking lights served a practical purpose that car lights never needed to. A flashing red tail light alerted drivers to the distinctive presence of a bicyclist (and/or evoked the evil computer HAL 9000 from Space Odyssey), which resulted in drivers being more cautious. GP surmises, though, that your primary concern is flashing white lights on the front of bicycles, which are indeed annoying. Those evoke no evil space computers and are therefore quite useless (aside from saving some battery life). A steady beam is kinder to your fellow cyclists and will also light your path more consistently. GP

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