By Karen Brooks
Like moths to a flame, we bike geeks get drawn to the bright, shiny stuff at Interbike. Our definitions of “shiny” can vary from ultra-bling to practical-chic to clever and well-made. But it is nice, sometimes, to breathe the rarified air of the top-of-the-line. Shimano’s R785 brake and Di2 shifting systems are two such examples.
As disc brakes are becoming more common on everything from adventure touring to cyclocross to commuting bikes, and even creeping their way onto road-racing style bikes, the big two component brands, Shimano and SRAM, are paying attention. The natural next step in the evolution is to follow mountain bikes and go fully hydraulic. Aftermarket hydraulic brake systems for drop bars from TRP, Formula and others have been around for a few years, but until recently there haven’t been one-stop options. SRAM debuted the Hydro R system, for disc or rim brakes, earlier this year. Shimano fired back with the artfully named R785 hydraulic brake system that integrates with Di2 electronic shifting, and I got a chance to try out both here at Interbike. Read the full storyTweet Print
By Karen Brooks
Dutch-style bikes have become popular as accoutrements in certain U.S. cities, allowing urban dwellers to glide along the streets with European sophistication, suits and skirts unruffled. However the history of these bikes, from English roadster to opafiets, is more about daily transportation than fashion. This style is just as popular with the Danes as with the Dutch, and Viva Bike Design represents the Danes, hailing from Copenhagen and headed by a former member of the Danish national cycling team.
The Danish version of these daily drivers is a bit lighter and sportier than the Dutch “grandpa” bike (“opafiets” in English). The Kilo model is a slight variation, with 26 inch wheels and fat tires rather than 700c and thinner rubber, basically adding pneumatic suspension to the package. Although this could never be mistaken for a lightweight, the Kilo’s chromoly steel frame is less hefty than the typical high-tensile steel of many of its tank-like counterparts.
Its frame geometry is a tad less relaxed than others as well, giving it quicker handling. Of course, its riding position is bolt upright, good for seeing and being seen in traffic and easy on the spine, if a little awkward for steeper, standing climbs. The bottom bracket is positioned high enough that the pedals were a bit far from the pavement, so that stopping required getting off the saddle to put a foot down, something I’d expect from a more performance-oriented bike. Otherwise, the bike’s overall impression is one of sturdiness and capability without being sluggish. Read the full storyTweet Print
By Karen Brooks
One of the cooler things I’ve seen at DealerCamp is a new bike from Raleigh, the Tamland, designed for gravel racing (or just riding) and as a “killer commuter.”
Its frame is Reynolds 631 steel, recommended for its toughness by Reynolds and custom-butted to be lighter than the standard tubeset. The chainstays are svelte and the fork has a nice rake to it for added compliance.
The geometry was developed specifically for rough roads, with a lower bottom bracket, longer wheelbase, slacker seat tube angle and slightly taller head tube as compared to their road or cyclocross models. Sounds like they got it right.
The Tamland will come stock with TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clement Xplor MSO 40mm tires, with plenty of room for even bigger ones. The rims are 24mm wide give those tires a maximum footprint. The brakes felt great just squeezing them on the stationary bike—I’ll be eager to try some in motion.
There are two models to start with, the 1 and the 2. Pictured here is the 2, with a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain; it will go for $2,400. The Tamland 1 will be $1,600.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride this bike, as the Raleigh crew just barely got this one sample in time to bring to the show. But apparently one of their lucky employees raced it in Raleigh’s Midsummer Nights Cross race on Thursday.
If you’re wondering about the name, Raleigh has been naming its commuter bikes after characters from TV shows and movies. Do you recognize this one?Tweet Print
By Karen Brooks
Between their excursions to “adventure by bike,” the folks at Salsa have been busy making improvements to their stable. We recently covered the 2014 Horsethief and Spearfish, which both got the Split Pivot treatment. At SaddleDrive in Snowbasin, Utah, they also unveiled a host of other changes to the 2014 model lineup.
First up is a bike that is truly fat, yet weighs less than its brethren: the Beargrease Carbon.
The geometry has been tweaked to essentially “feel more like a mountain bike” and also shift the rider’s weight rearward, via shorter chainstays and a new Whiteout carbon fat fork with 51mm offset. Salsa says this also serves to get a better steering response in snow, keeping the front wheel from pushing sideways and allowing it to be guided around a turn.
It will come in an XX1 or X9 versions. The XX1 is pictured here, with sweet graphics in bright green on matte black. It will also sport the Alternator dropouts (pictured below with the Fargo). The Beargrease’s path is diverging further from that of the Mukluk — becoming even more of a dedicated snow racer, while the Mukluk is for exploring at your own pace.
Mike Riemer, Salsa’s marketing manager, let it be known that the bike is suspension-corrected for a 100mm travel, 51mm offset suspension fork for fat wheels, something that doesn’t exist — yet. A full-suspension version could also possibly appear someday…
The complete bike weighs around 26lbs., pretty darn light for something that looks so… substantial. I got a chance to ride it a bit on singletrack, and really appreciated its weight savings over other fat bikes — between that and its improved handling, it felt kind of like it was filled with helium. If I had one, I’d love to set it up tubeless for ultimate float.
Next is a bike that started with a cool concept and just keeps getting better: the Fargo. The new version looks and feels like a cohesive package.
The Alternator dropouts are a rocking type that give 17mm fore-aft adjustment. Different plates will be available to accept a standard quick-release, 142x12mm thru-axles, or Rohloff hubs, and also for dedicated singlespeeding. Note that the non-drive side has just two bolts—the top one is also one of the brake caliper bolts.
The fork is a new carbon one, called the Firestarter, and the frame is corrected for a 100mm suspension fork.
The Woodchipper handlebars felt natural and right on this bike, as did the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. I didn’t get to ride it nearly as much as I wanted to (right on across the state and beyond), but the little bit of dirt and gravel I did experience left me impressed.
By Karen Brooks
The first day of Saddledrive—a dealer and media-only event put on by distributor Quality Bicycle Producuts—the whistle sounded (yes, really) and eager attendees stampeded toward the line of waiting demo bikes in a grassy area at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. Among those were some surprise new models from Surly.
First off, the Surly bikes. (drumroll please…) They’ve finally put disc brake mounts on a Cross Check-style steel cyclocross bike! Cleverly enough, it’s called the Straggler.
It comes in a sparkly purple paint job to call attention to how awesome it is. It will have slightly different geometry from the Cross Check—a tad lower bottom bracket drop, and a tad longer head tube for sizes 54cm and up. The size run is also spread out evenly in 2cm increments, with a 64cm largest size added.
The dropouts have an interesting two-stage opening—an angled slot makes a bend to a horizontal run of about 17mm. This is so that the wheel will drop out normally given the disc brakes, but then can be adjusted horizontally for singlespeed use or to lengthen the wheelbase for touring. There are rear-facing set screws, and threaded holes to flip them forward for horizontal use. Here is a helpful napkin drawing by Adam Sholtes, Surly’s product manager:
The rear brake caliper is bolted to slots for corresponding horizontal adjustment.
Note the tires—those are a new 700×41 Knard tread that will come stock on complete bikes and is sure to be popular on all sorts of other multi-purpose ‘cross bikes. They did well on the loose rock and powdery soil at Snowbasin.
The bike also comes stock with the Salsa Cowbell 2 bar, a favorite of mine, and one that proved to be popular on other SaddleDrive bikes. This was a fun bike to ride all around the area— trails, gravel road and parking lot.
Next up is the ECR— something that the Surly dudes had in mind during the process of designing the Krampus. Basically, it’s a bikepacking Krampus, with more touring-friendly geometry and lots of braze-ons for all your backcountry needs.
What does “ECR” stand for? According to sales dude Trevor Clayton, there are about a hundred different iterations floating around the Surly office. A few of the shareable ones are “Enduro Camping Rig,” “Exit Cities Rapidly” and “Einstein Can’t Rap.”
It will come stock with a Jones loop bar. Jeff Jones himself worked with Surly to make the bar a little wider at the grip area, and it can be trimmed down to size. Surly also got Microshift to produce a special version of their thumbshifters that can be switched from index to friction shifting.
The dropouts are the same industrial-strength, multi-multi-purpose ones found on the Troll and Ogre, compatible with just about anything you can stick on the rear end of a bike.
Of course the bike is also festooned with tons of mounts.
It’s not a light bike, but is fun and capable on the dirt, with a more “settled-in” feeling than the Krampus and very suitable for long days spent exploring.
Stay tuned: we’ve got more coverage from Salsa Cycles coming. Check back tomorrow!Tweet Print
By Karen Brooks
We’ve wrapped up issue #24, and even as you read this it’s making its way to your door and to your favorite magazine retailer or you can pick up a copy in our store. Here’s a sneak peek:
A Guide to Cargo Bikes
Cargo bikes are increasingly replacing SUVs as a means to get around town with large items and family members in tow. (They’re a lot more fun for all involved!) We figured some more of you would want to know about how to bring a cargo bike into your life. Our tech editor, Eric McKeegan, has become our resident expert on cargo bikes over the years, having done the majority of our cargo bike reviews as well as riding and experimenting on his own, so here he breaks down the different types available and what situations they’re good for.
We also talked to a trio of parents who have become experts at bringing kids along via cargo bike and gleaned tips on how to stay safe, deal with weather and keep it fun, among other considerations. (Hint: snacks are key.)
Sign Sprints in Champagne
This is a lighthearted account, accompanied by some stunning photos, of a group of friends touring the Champagne region of France. Have some good snacks handy, and maybe even a glass of bubbly, when you read this one.
Portland’s Naked Bike Ride
We’ve previously featured stories from globetrotter Joshua Samuel Brown about riding in Taiwan and Los Angeles, but now he’s found his future hometown on U.S. soil: that haven of bike-friendliness, Portland, Oregon. He braved a local traditional ride to get more… um… intimate with his new neighbors.
Interview with Paul Freedman of Rock the Bike and the Bicycle Music Festival
Our fearless leader Maurice is also our de facto Bay Area correspondent. He ran across the completely pedal-powered Bicycle Music Festival, both stationary and rolling along the streets of San Francisco, and decided to find out more about it. As it turns out, one of the founders is none other than Fossil Fool, a bike rapper we first encountered on the streets of Las Vegas during the Interbike trade show.
- Xtracycle EdgeRunner
- Trek Domane 4.5
- Norco Indie Drop 1
- Cannondale Quick CX3
- And more
By Karen Brooks
Issue #23 is here! This time around, we’ve decided to tackle a subject that most of the rest of the bike media is somewhat obsessed with: the Tour de France. But we’re doing it in our own style, from the perspective of interested spectators, rather than from the viewpoint that racing is what road riding is all about.
We also asked our Publisher, Maurice Tierney, to further explain our feelings on the bike industry’s emphasis on pro road racing (in the Big Cheese’s uniquely outspoken style, of course).
Letter from the Publisher
To hell with pro cycling! It’s the epitome of everything wrong with this thing we love, riding bikes! I am really sick of it. Not only does pro racing support cheating, doping primadonnas, but it’s just not what people generally do on bikes! That’s why we started Bicycle Times.
How many people have been turned off by the expensive, delicate, uncomfortable bikes that this paradigm tells us we need to ride? All bent-over, dressed in some glaringly ugly skinsuit, head down against the wind, not seeing the world around you. Aspiring to be something you’re not.
I’m sick of watching the bicycle industry keep buying into this “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” marketing scheme. Tons of dollars spent on something that almost no one does. Yeah, some companies “get it”—you can see them in the pages of this magazine.
The right thing to do would be to spend this racing money on advocating for a bike-friendly world, thus making our lives better and curing some doper of his habit at the same time.
Have I got your attention? Any buttons pushed?
Of course we have a place in our hearts for racing. Despite the current doping debacle, the history, traditions and drama of pro cycling events like the Tour de France are worth enjoying. En-joy-ing. Joy! We enjoy it, so we’re writing about it.
But we want to change the overall narrative.
To a narrative of fun! Joy! Diversity! Comfort! Inclusion! Bikes are such a positive force in the world, and the media—that’s us—needs to reflect this.
So while you’re reading our pieces on the Tour and how to watch it, let’s think about some other things…
That bicycles are the antidote to many, if not all, of the world’s problems.
That a sustainable community is going to be a pedal-powered community, and a happy community.
That biking people are healthy people.
And that biking stands for fitness, freedom, and FUN!
– Maurice Tierney, Publisher, Rotating Mass Media
The 100th Tour de France, by Gary Boulanger
The Super Bowl of cycling is happening for the 100th time this July! We decided to delve into the history and the inner workings of this grand spectacle.
Your Own Tour de France Experience, By Jeff Lockwood
Want to see La Grande Boucle up close? Here are some pointers for turning it into a great bike-themed vacation.
The Secret Kings of the Cape Cod Canal, by Jonathan Wolan
A royal band of outdoorsmen use custom-rigged bikes in their hunt for striped bass and glory.
Interview: Nate Query of the Decemberists
Bass player and bike rider Nate Query tells about his favorite rides, and why he’d never want to combine bike and band touring.
- Dahon Formula S18 folding bike
- Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0
- Specialized Tricross Elite Steel Disc Triple
- Westcomb and Showers Pass jackets
- Giro New Road shirt
- Geax, Challenge and Vittoria tires
- Packs from North St. Bags, Blackburn, Boreas, Osprey and Shimano
- And more!
By Karen Brooks
Quite a long name, eh? But it tells you what you’re getting, pretty much.
This was to be the bike for my second annual trip to and/or from the National Bike Summit, along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal trails, back in March. Alas, it was not to be. We got extremely lucky with the weather last year, but this year we got cold temps and snow before the Bike Summit, and yet more snow—heavy, wet snow, and lots of it—afterward. Bummer. Still, I’ve been having a good time on this bike just doing my normal commute plus some extra-curricular riding around.
It’s nice to see that a big company like Specialized has not totally abandoned steel as a frame material, especially for an all-rounder bike like this. Some of the other current TriCross models, as well as past versions, rely on Zertz vibration-damping inserts at key points to soften the ride of their aluminum frames. But to me, and a lot of other classic aficionados (or retro-grouches, if you prefer), steel makes sense for smoothing out the ride, in a refined and comprehensive way.
Indeed, this bike is smooth and unflappable. As you can tell from the dust and splashes in the photos, I’ve been riding it in some dirt and gravel. The Body Geometry bar tape with gel padding helps keep that smooth feeling without being too fat. I dig the integrated bell on the top brake lever. I also dig the no-nonsense graphics — the bike looks sleek and serious.
It’s been a while since I rode a bike with a triple crank, mountain or road. I had to really concentrate not to end up in the big/big gear combo. Funny how quickly we forget… But the granny ring has come in handy for traversing my local park via singletrack trails as well as the wider gravel paths.
The bike’s Avid BB5 brakes were doing a weird pulsing thing for a while. It almost felt as though the rotors were of uneven thickness, or as though I’d gotten a wad of gum stuck to one. But the pads looked fine, and so did the rotors — I went so far as to measure them with calipers. (Any excuse to get out the more esoteric tools!) After consulting with Specialized and with Avid, I’m gonna chalk it up to contamination of some sort. I swapped pads and rotors and have had no trouble since.
It looks like I’m going to go on a long ride with this bike after all, at least for a day—from our HQ in Pittsburgh to Raystown Lake for the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest, 130 miles. This is the kind of bike that encourages such impromptu adventures.
Check out the full review coming up in issue #23.Tweet Print
By Karen Brooks
Earlier this week we were on the scene at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. Despite the bureaucratic sound of the name, this event is one I look forward to every year. It’s a true “summit” of the bike world, a gathering of passionate, idealistic, and “bike-partisan” people—always stimulating and inspiring.
Some of my favorite parts:
- Showing up to the very chilly ride led by Black Women Bike DC the night before the start of the Summit, to find a healthy crowd of nearly 50 people braving the cold wind to ride and socialize.
- The presentation by New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and meeting her afterwards. She’s done a lot to make New York’s city streets more bike-friendly, and there are more than double the number of bike commuters since 2007 and has been a 50 percent increase in retail business on streets with bike lanes. I had really wanted to speak with her for the “Bikes to the Rescue” article in issue #21, but didn’t get the chance. Look for an interview in a future issue!
- Jacquie Phelan’s banjo playing in between sessions. Also, her assertion that to reduce obesity, Only Bikes Can Do it. (Get it?)
- The debut of a commercial by the American Automobile Association reminding drivers that bike riders are people too.
- Karen Overton of Recycle-a-Bicycle comparing bike advocacy to the Brazilian dance-based martial art of capoeira: “It’s not a battle so much, but it’s coming together in a circle, building community, dancing, and engaging one another.”
- Deciding to “sit down Oprah-style” on the comfy chair rather than stand behind the podium for the conversation with Georgena Terry and Natalie Ramsland—Terry then said, “As long as I get to say the line, ‘I don’t know, we’ve sued so many people.’ “
The only low point was the threat of heavy snow across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and into Washington, D.C. from Tuesday night through Wednesday. It caused cancellations of many of the meetings with Representatives and Senators—the main point of the Summit. It also caused me to abandon plans to ride back to Pittsburgh on the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage trails. Harrumph. Still, it was a great event. Go if you can!Tweet Print
The author, left, with Natalie Ramsland and Georgena Terry at the Women’s Bicycling Forum.
By Karen Brooks
Beginning today I’ll be attending the National Bike Summit for the third time. It’s a great opportunity each spring to meet cycling advocates from across the country and to even sit down with members of Congress.
Kicking things off this year is the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, a special day for female leaders and entrepreneurs from the cycling industry to meet and discuss owning and operating our own businesses, ways to close the gender gap in the industry, and how to encourage the cycling movement beyond the stereotype of "affluent white men."
This year I was asked to moderate the opening keynote address by Georgena Terry, above. Despite suffering from polio at an early age, Terry founded one of the first female-specific bike companies in the 1980s. She turned her basement operation into an international brand, turning out such iconic products as the Liberator saddle and the Cycling Skort, sparking more major companies to create products for women as well. She was joined by Natalie Ramsland, the founder and frame builder at Sweetpea Bicycles, a custom bike shop that focuses on women’s bikes.
Last night I joined the ladies from Black Women Bike DC for a VERY chilly ride around the nation’s capital. It was disappointing we couldn’t enjoy the weather we had last year when I rode from our office in Pittsburgh to the Summit, but I was amazed by the huge turnout.
Can’t wait to meet some more of you this week, and watch this space for more coverage from the 2013 National Bike Summit.Tweet Print