Misceo is a Latin verb that means “to mix or blend.” The idea behind the Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0—a flat-bar, 700c bike decked out with disc brakes and a suspension fork—is to blend the performance and versatility of a mountain bike with the comfort and street-friendliness of a hybrid. This machine is designed to tackle a variety of terrain, including pavement, rough roads and even dirt trails.Tweet
The Co-Motion Divide’s rugged looking frame is hand-built in Oregon using oversized Reynolds 725 chromoly tubing. Co-Motion’s tandem expertise is evident in the massive chainstays and the 40-spoke wheels, built using DT-Swiss 540 tandem hubs (with 145mm rear spacing for a dishless wheel) and Velocity Cliffhanger rims. The stout 44 mm-diameter head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business.
The Divide rode like it meant business, too. As soon as I got her built, I zipped through the mean streets and hit the local trails. The bike felt incredibly stiff and well built. I took that as an encouraging sign for the loaded tour that lay ahead—a 355-mile self-supported tour along the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth
Raleigh told me that the Misceo Trail 2.0 is a city bike that can take a beating, and handle some light hard-pack trail use. Sweet! That sounds like a bike that fits my riding style. Let’s take a closer look at the $800 Misceo Trail 2.0 and find out what this versatile machine has to offer.
The Misceo Trail 2.0 rolls on 700c wheels. That’s the logical choice, for a fast-rolling city bike. Kenda’s Happy Medium 700cx38c tires have a center section that’s patterned with minimalist knobs. More-aggressive lugs line the outer edges (for cornering grip in loose conditions). The tires roll quietly, and I’ve been impressed with their traction on dirt. On a $800 bike you don’t get a fancy wheelset (Weinmann XM260 Disc rims laced to Joytech disc hubs). But the proof is in the pedaling, so I’ll reserve judgment until I see how the wheels hold up to longer-term testing.
Flat bars offer a comfortable riding position, and they’re the ticket when venturing off-road. The head-ups posture also makes it easier to scan the surroundings (i.e. traffic). My personal city/road bikes are set up with flat bars. That’s how I roll.
I like the concept of a suspension fork on rugged city bike. For a number of reasons: potholes, bridge expansion joints, curb drops, railroad ballast, gravel roads, rumble strips, and singletrack shortcuts. Offering 63mm of coil-sprung travel and a lockout lever, the SR Suntour NCX fork is not a high-performance mountain bike suspension. It doesn’t have to be. It just has to soak up the aforementioned irregularities. And so far it has been working just fine.
Beyond the suspension fork, the oversized fame tubing is another clue that this bad boy is ready to rumble. I couldn’t resist heading for some rocky/bumpy terrain to get a feel for the bike under strain. The aluminum alloy frame felt reassuringly solid and up to the task. More off-road testing is definitely in order.
Disc brakes are de rigueur for bikes of this ilk. For that, I am happy. The Shimano 416 mechanical calipers and 160mm rotors offer impressive of stopping power with good modulation, wet or dry. I’m about three weeks into this test and the brakes only squealed once (in wet conditions, and very briefly at that.)
The Shimano Alivio 3×9 drivetrain (with Deore rear derailleur) offers plenty of gearing range, which is quite welcome in my hilly hometown. The Wellgo M21 pedals, with their aluminum alloy body/cage, are keepers. The rear dropout has an eyelet for rack/fender mounting.
Keep an eye out in a future issue of Bicycle Times for my long-term review. Subscribe today!Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth and Karen Brooks. Photo by Justin Steiner.
You may have noticed that the world of bicycle lights has quickly become dominated by LED technology. These little wonders are different from regular incandescent light bulbs, and superior in many ways, but there were some challenges to making them work for bike use. Read on to get educated.
What is a light-emitting diode?
A light-emitting diode, or LED, is a semiconductor device that produces light when an electrical current passes through it. While the light-emitting properties of semiconductor materials were noted as early as 1907, the phenomenon remained a curiosity until the solid-state electronics revolution led to the creation of the modern LED in 1962.
The LED is a variety of the ubiquitous semiconductor diode—the basic building block of modern electronic components and integrated circuits. In simplest terms, a semiconductor diode consists of a P-type (positive) semiconductor region joined to a N-type (negative) region. (Follow along with the diagram below.) The N-type region contains negatively charged free charge carriers (electrons) and the
P-type region has positively charged free charge carriers (electron holes). When current flows through the diode, the electrons and holes travel in opposite directions.
The magic of the LED happens at the P-N junction. When an electron meets a hole, the electron falls into a lower energy level (from conduction band into valence band) and releases energy in the form of a photon. Viola, light!
The wavelength of light emitted, which determines its color, depends on the difference in energy level between the conduction band and the valence band (i.e., the band gap). Suffice it to say that over the years a huge amount of research has been devoted to developing P-N junctions with the desired band gaps to produce light at useful wavelengths.
LEDs have a number of properties that make them well-suited for bicycle lights. They are compact, efficient, rugged, long lasting, and controllable.
LEDs have lifespans up to 50,000 hours or more, and their solid- state nature gives them inherent shock resistance that’s much appreciated for bicycling applications. Unlike incandescent bulbs, they have no filament to break.
The light output of LEDs may be modulated via relatively simple control circuitry, resulting in lights that offer user-selectable output levels. Fast switching times, on the order of a microsecond, make LEDs ideal for use in flashing mode.
LEDs boast efficiencies around 70 lumens of light per watt of energy, compared to 12 lumens/watt for incandescent light bulbs. Buoyed by continuous progress within the semiconductor industry, the efficiency and light output of LEDs has doubled every three years since the 1960s. This observed trend has been called Haitz’s Law, after Dr. Roland Haitz (similar to Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years, thus rapidly boosting computer processing speed and memory).
Visible-light LEDs generate very little infrared radiation in their light beam; in practical terms they do not exhibit a significant “heat lamp” effect, unlike incandescent bulbs, which convert around 80 percent of electrical energy into infrared radiation (and thus heat). LEDs do generate heat due to inherent inefficiencies, just like other lights, but the heat is dispersed through the base of the LED.
LEDs in bicycle lights
Since early LEDs emitted red light, naturally they found a home in rearward-facing “blinky” lights for bikes. It wasn’t until 1995, however, that an LED that produced white light was developed. After that, it took a few years for lighting manufacturers to figure out how to use these white LEDs to light the way for bikes. There were several issues to solve: heat buildup, optics, and power management.
First of all, heat. Although LEDs don’t produce a “heat lamp” effect, they do build up a significant amount of heat at their bases. Mike Ely, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for NiteRider, explains: “As you apply more power to the LED the brighter it gets, but it also generates more heat, and too much heat will destroy an LED very quickly. The way we manage this heat buildup is through heat sinking. The goal is to pull as much heat away from the LED as possible, brighter light output.”
A heat sink is a structure that dissipates heat, such as the metal fins or grooves you often find on a light’s housing. “The problem with this,” adds Ely, “is that as you add heat sink, you are increasing the weight and size of your light head. So in the early days of LEDs, due to the relative inefficiency, we couldn’t get the light output that we are seeing today. The key is to find the ‘sweet spot’ between light output and heat buildup.”
Second, the optics of an LED is very different from those of a light bulb. Daniel Emerson, CEO of Light & Motion, explains: “Bulbs suspend the [light] source out in space where it is easy to wrap a highly engineered reflector around it and direct the light. Look closely at a halogen bulb used in your home. Note the faceted, parabolic reflector around it with the bulb jutting out into the center. Now compare that with an LED, which is hidden behind a spherical dome and lays flat on a circuit board. It is much harder to build a good optic to support the LED than the bulb.”
Third, power management. “LEDs require very accurate voltage to run efficiently,” says Emerson. But “batteries are extremely poor at delivering constant voltage. So we need to design a circuit that makes up for the lousy voltage regulation of batteries.” This highlights one advantage of rechargeable systems, as the output of the batter- ies can be more tightly regulated so that the amount of light output stays the same whether the battery is freshly charged or nearly spent.
Despite these challenges, lighting manufacturers have made huge progress with LED lights in a short amount of time—they’re rapidly getting smaller, more powerful, and more efficient, while not increasing much in cost (and in some cases, actually getting cheaper). According to Emerson, LEDs “are now delivering over 150 lumens per watt, or double what they could deliver just a few years ago. In the next few years, they will approach the theoretical max output in the low 200 lumens/watt range.” And the end is not yet in sight.
“As large LED companies such as Cree expand into residential lighting and pump large sums of money into R&D, I believe we’ll continue to see more advancements,” says Ely. The next frontier for huge leaps in light technology may be batteries. “Hopefully, car battery technology will push batteries to four times the capacity for rechargeable cells that we have today,” says Emerson. “There is interesting work occurring in nanotechnology that has the potential to give battery technology this type of big leap forward.”
A note on measurement
The relative power of bike lights, when they used regular bulbs, used to be measured in terms of wattage. However, wattage only tells you how much energy the bulb is consuming, not how much light it is actually putting out. The lumen is a more accurate unit, as it is a measurement of the visible light emitted from a defined source (like an LED) falling on a surface.
Candlepower is another unit of light measurement, less commonly used, that gives the amount of light from a source, measured at the source itself rather than on a surface.
Less scrupulous companies will list the lumens of their lights based on the theoretical output of the LEDs in it, not the measured output of a production light. But as we’ve seen, the actual output of an LED depends a lot on the way the light is put together. The true way to measure is with an expensive device that encloses the light in a perfect sphere to capture all the light emitted. If you encounter a bike light that claims an incredible amount of lumens for a bargain-basement price, just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By Karl Rosengarth
Co-Motion Cycles has been hand-crafting an eclectic mix of bikes from their digs in Eugene, Oregon, since 1988. In addition to a wide range of tandem offerings, the company offers single bikes in the road, cyclocross, touring, and city categories. Their menu includes both stock geometry and full-custom offerings.
The Divide is a recent addition to the line, and like the other Co-Motion models, the bike is a purpose-driven machine that was created in response to customer demand. Ever since the company released the 26-inch Pangea adventure touring bike, folks had been asking about a 29er version. Read our long-term review of the Pangea model here.
The folks at Co-Motion eventually got tired of saying “not yet,” and built a few custom adventure-touring bikes with 29-inch wheels. The idea was to create a 29er suited for touring on the miles of unimproved roads that beckon for exploration, with the added versatility of 700c compatibility for efficient paved-road touring. The first few custom builds were very well received, and Co-Motion decided the configuration deserved its own model designation and stock sizes. The Divide was born.
The Divide is purpose-built for adventure touring, and not simply a road frame with extra tire clearance and additional braze-ons. The custom drawn, butted chromoly tubing is unique to Co-Motion. The oversized main frame tubes and massive chainstays are designed to handle the abuse of fully loaded touring over rough terrain.
Beefy custom forks are another other feature that sets Co-Motion’s touring bikes apart. The steerer tube and fork crown are turned down from a single piece of hollow bar stock, in house, on a CNC lathe. The result is a stronger and more precise part compared to traditional two-piece steerers. The stout head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business. The dropouts are also Co-Motion’s own design, made in house on CNC equipment.
The base price of the Divide with standard touring kit is $3,925. However, my test bike included a $250 upgrade from BarCon shifters to Ultegra STI, and a $225 up-charge for two-tone paint ($4,300 sub-total). The Tubus Tara front rack and Cargo rear rack (both 29er compatible) represent $110 and $120 up-charges respectively (for a grand total of $4,530).
My main reason for requesting the Divide as my test bike was a 355-mile loaded tour on the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Towpath trails, from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. I shed the stock Continental Race King 29×2.2in tires in favor of a pair of Continental Country Plus 700x42c tires—skins more suited to the anticipated trail surface. The cherry on top was a set of Planet Bike Cascadia 29er fenders, and I was ready to roll.
After pedaling 70lbs. of combined bike/gear weight for six days, over 355 miles of mostly-unpaved trails, I came away impressed with the Divide. My experience left no doubt that this is one solidly-built machine. I’ve never ridden a frame that felt as stiff as the Divide. There was no perceptible flex while pedaling, nor bouncing over rough roads, even when fully loaded.
The C&O Towpath has some washed-out sections, and I soon discovered that I could plow into potholes with no fear. Sure beats having to constantly steer around them, especially when they come in rapid succession. And when I did need to make a quick course correction, the Divide responded nimbly enough, while still feeling comfortably stable. No shimmy and no shake. No wiggle, no waggle. Rock steady, mon.
If the 28.3 lbs. base weight of this bike (sans pedals) seems high, I’d argue that it makes perfect sense if you want a bike that can handle loaded touring over rough roads and not bat an eyelash. And the Avid BB-7 Road disc brakes did a fantastic job of controlling a full load, even on steep hills (did I mention there’s a C&O Towpath detour that forces you onto 6-miles of paved road that’s rather hilly?).
That’s all I have to say at this point. In the meantime be sure to subscribe to Bicycle Times to read my full review, scheduled for issue #21.
- Country of Origin: USA
- Price: $3,925 (base price) $4,530 (as tested)
- Weight: 28.3 lbs. (no pedals)
- Sizes Available: 52, 55 (tested) and 58cm (for full-custom sizing add $300).
- Website: www.co-motion.com
By Karl Rosengarth
I have a knack for doing things the hard way. Even my vacations tend to morph from much needed rest and relaxation into masters-level exercises in logistics. As I type this blog I’m in the midst of preparing for a week-long, self-supported bicycle tour along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath trails with my riding pal Kevin.
The first thing on my vacation To Do List was getting a brand new Co-Motion Divide test bike (shown below) dialed in for the journey. Thanks to front and rear racks that Tubus was kind enough to provide, Brooks panniers that Bicycle Times previously reviewed, a swap of the stock 29er MTB tires for fresh Continental Country Plus skins and a set of Planet Bike Cascadia 29er fenders, my whip stands more than ready for the adventure. Look for my Co-Motion Divide "first impressions" blog in a few weeks, after I return from trip.
Next up was setting up Kevin, who owns two mountain bikes but nothing built for touring, with a suitable bike. My old Gunnar Crosshairs "cyclocross" bike to the rescue. The Crosshairs was long ago retired from the race circuit. Saddled with fenders and front/rear racks, the former thoroughbred now romps in greener pastures with the other grocery getters. The biggest challenge, and object of late-night wrenching in my dingy basement, was converting the Gunnar from drop to flat bars.
Kevin was just not comfortable on drops, and I was willing to make the switch, figuring that flat bare would better suit the bike’s current lifestyle anyway. It is amazing what some scrounging and cursing can accomplish. I unearthed some 9-speed Shimano XT brake/shift levers that I was able to get to play well with the Tiagra triple drivetrain (with less muss/fuss than I’d anticipated). The result is shown in the photo below.
Then there are the logistics of the trip itself. How far to pedal each day? Where to grab our meals? Where to camp? As I type, we’re about a week and a half from blastoff, and we’ve managed to sort out the aforementioned logistics. Not to mention rounding up the camping gear we’ll need.
Tell your story
However, there is one final task with which I’d like to ask your help, dear reader. In an effort to make this vacation even more like work, Kevin and I plan to shoot photos and video, with the goal of documenting the life and times along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath trails. If you have a story about life along the trails, historical landmarks, the best scenic vistas, or would like to share your experiences pedaling on the trail, please use the web form at this link to tell us your story. Our goal is to create a unique documentary film and/or published articles about the trail corridor.
By Karl Rosengarth
When asked to describe the idea behind the Bosanova, Greg Webber, the vice president of product development at Jamis, had this to say: “Our Pacific Northwest retailers had been asking us for a rain bike: steel-framed, disc-brake equipped, drop-bar road bike (with fenders) for foul weather commuting and/or training that would retail for less than $1,500.” To make a long story short, Jamis mated the touring/ adventure geometry of their Aurora with their racier Quest model and begat the Bosanova.
I found that the resultant all-around geometry worked well, considering the bike’s versatile intentions. The Bosanova felt stable and held its line through high-speed corners. Still, it dodged potholes and responded quickly when pressed. Yes, a bike can be responsive without being twitchy-fast.
Fitting/adjusting the stem height was a breeze, thanks to the NVO adjustable threadless system, which replaces the typical spacer stack with a special shim that slips over the steerer tube, and uses a stem that’s sized to fit over the shim. Simply loosen the stem bolt, slide the stem up/down on the shim to the desired height, and retighten.
Adorning the double-butted chromoly frame are painted-to-match steel fenders and Avid BB-5 cable-actuated disc brakes. From my first rainy-day commute, I fell in love with the stopping power of the disc brakes. The fenders covered enough of the wheels to deflect the vast majority of spray, though my piggies did get a wee, wee wet on the way home.
Jamis positioned the rear fender and rack eyelets such that they don’t interfere with the disc brake caliper. I easily mounted a rear rack with no special adapters required. The chainstays proved long enough to provide heel clearance for my 14”-wide rear panniers. With loaded rear panniers, the Bosanova felt stable and predictable. I noticed some flex at the bottom bracket, but it was minor and I’d have no concerns about touring on the Bosanova. Overall, the Bosanova rode with the resilient and lively feeling that I’ve come to associate with a chromoly steel bike.
The carbon fiber fork has eyelets at the dropouts and mid-leg. I didn’t mount a front rack, but Jamis told me that the load limit for the fork is 30-35kgs. On rough roads, I noticed some fore-aft fork-leg flex, which helped absorb some road vibration and soften the ride.
The mostly-Shimano-Tiagra drivetrain came with a 12-30-tooth cassette and sported a FSA Vero triple crankset with PowerDrive BB (50/39/30-tooth). The triple crank contributed to the bike’s versatility, and I loved having the lower gears whenever hauling a load. Gear changes were smooth and reliable, albeit not as crisp/ quick as higher-end Shimano 2×10 offerings.
On the recreational end of the spectrum, I enjoyed the bike’s smooth, comfortable ride during multi-hour jaunts on both paved and unpaved country roads. It was a snap to slam that adjustable stem down and get into a more aggressive position when I felt like hammering out a training ride.
The Vittoria Randonneur Cross 700x28c tires offered plenty of grip over hard and soft surfaces, and rolled plenty fast. I mounted 38mm tires and found ample frame/fork clearance, with just enough fender clearance to do the trick. Jamis told me that, without fenders, the bike will fit tires as wide as 42mm.
If you’re looking for an affordable, utilitarian road bike that’s versatile enough to serve as your everyday commuter, and stands ready to emerge from a nearby phone-booth and tackle a weekend filled with adventure, then the Bosanova deserves to be on your short list.
- Price: $1,275
- Weight: 27.2lbs.
- Sizes Available: 48, 51, 54, 56 (tested), 58, 61cm
By Karl Rosengarth
A public-private coalition in the greater Philadelphia area is working to create a network of bicycle/pedestrian trails that, when connected, will be the nation’s most comprehensive metropolitan trail system.
Dubbed "The Circuit", the network will be formed by creating new trail segments that interconnect the 750 miles of trails that already exist, from southern New Jersey to central Pennsylvania. Not only a boon to bicycle commuters, The Circuit will also offer longer-distance recreational routes, and a connection to the East Coast Greenway—a developing traffic-free trail system between Canada and Key West, Florida.
Behind the effort is the 17-organization Circuit Coalition—a collaboration of foundations, governmental agencies, non-profits, and the private sector. To date, the Coalition has scored a $23.2 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for trail construction, $5 million in federal stimulus funding for the Chester Valley Trail, and a $10 million grant from the William Penn Foundation toward trail construction and planning for dozens of trail projects throughout a nine-county region.
The Coalition recently launched a website that has maps and information on the trail network and allows users to share their favorite routes and to get involved in completing the trail network.Tweet
By Karl Rosengarth
The Sea Otter Classic has traditionally been more associated with mountain biking than city riding, but we spotted a ton of cool stuff that translates to commuters and road riders as well.
Raleigh Tripper: Due out in July, the Raleigh Tripper is a three-speed city bike based on the same steel frame as the popular Roper and Furley models. The drivetrain sports a Shimano Nexus hub and disc brakes. Bicycle Times is at the front of the line to get a review sample, so stay tuned.
Lezyne Femto Drive LED light: The Femto Drive is a compact "be seen" LED light, due out in fall 2012. Available in a 15 lumen front (white) and a 7 lumen rear (red) version, the Femto Drive will retail for $15 each, or $25 for a F/R pair. The body is weather-resistant CNC-machined aluminum. Run times vary from 25-70 hours on the CR2032 battery, depending on which of the four pulse/flash modes is used.
DZR Dirt Line: Shoe-maker DZR is about to drop their all-new Dirt Line of SDP-compatible mountain bike shoes. Both the high-top Samba and the low-cut Dice retail for $120, and feature good-old laces covered with a Velcro strap to keep them out of harm’s way. Look for them to hit the shelves about two weeks.
Mission Workshop Rail Pack: Also due out in two weeks, Mission Workshop’s Rail Pack features the company’s Arkiv rail system which allows the user to modify and adapt the carrying capacity of their pack by attaching modular, external compartments that slide on/off the main body via a clever rail system. The whole package looks very smart and sexy. We’ve got one of these bad boys on the way for a thorough Bicycle Times review.
Feedback Sports Sprint bike stand: Due for June 2012 release, the Sprint is the first fork-mount bike stand from Feedback Sports. The cleverly designed fork mount works with 9mm/15mm/20mm front axles (as well as 130/135/142mm rear). The open design of the BB-cradle provides easy access to BB-routed cables. The 360-degree pivoting design makes it easy to rotate the bike and work on either side without moving. MSRP is $275.
Element Case: Now that you’ve got that new iPhone, how’s about a snazzy CNC-machined and anodized case to protect it? That’s the idea behind Element Case, the brainchild of industrial designer (and former Fox Racing Shox employee) Jeff Sasaki. Element Cases are made in the USA and available in a number of models ranging from $50-100, depending on features. They even do custom graphics, such as the Syndicate models shown in the photo.
by Karl Rosengarth, photos by Adam Newman and Karl Rosengarth
Different riders have different riding styles. Each person gravitates toward certain types of bikes that meld with their style. When it came time to outfit myself with a test bike, the Jamis Bosanova rocketed to the top of my charts. I was attracted to the Bossanova’s versatile, utilitarian nature. It’s short list of attractive features: full-coverage fenders, disc brakes, drop bars, triple crank, steel chassis, practical tires, and rack eyelets.
Steel is versatile and practical. I like steel. The Bosanova’s chasis is made from Reynolds 520 double-butted chromoly main tubes and chromoly stays. The Bosanova rolled down the road with a resilient and lively feeling. When pulling hard on the bars, or mashing the big ring, frame flex was well within acceptable limits.
The frame/fork both have eyelets for racks, a nod to the bike’s versatility. Speaking of the fork, it’s a carbon fiber unicrown affair with steel steerer and forged dropouts. The fork looks stout, but did not harsh out the ride. Actually, it seems to kill some of the buzz from rough roads.
For the geometry Jamis chose a middle-ground between quick/racy and stable/touring. The all-arounder geometry resulted in a bike with comfortable and intuitive nature. The handling felt stable and predictable, without feeling at all sluggish. Pointed downhill, the Bosanova held its line and carved high-speed sweepers without wavering. When called upon to dodge potholes or dice in traffic, the Bosanova was quick enough to comply without complaint. The term "well-behaved" comes to mind.
Sporting painted-to-match metal fenders and disc brakes, the Bosanova is wet-weather capable. On minor complaint is that there’s some rattling coming from the rear fender, which I need to see if I can isolate and fix. My first rain ride sold me on the concept of disc brakes on road bikes. Wet braking power and modulation of the Avid BB-5 cable actuated discs was confidence-inspiring. Gotta love one-finger braking in the rain.
Rolling on Vittoria Randonneur Cross 700x28c with Double Shield puncture protection, this rig has been more than up to the task of tackling the mean streets and dirt roads. The full-coverage fenders shielded the stock tires perfectly, but it appears from eyeballing the fender-to-tire clearance that you’d run out of room pretty quickly if you tried to fit much wider tires.
I like having a bike with a triple-crank in my stable, so the Tiagra triple gets my thumbs up. I should point out that Jamis speced an FSA Vero triple crankset (with FSA PowerDrive bottom bracket), so the drivetrain is not full Shimano.
Look for my full review of the Bosanova in Bicycle Times issue #17 and subscribe today to make sure you never miss an issue.
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $1,275
- Weight: 27.1 lbs.
- Sizes Available: 48, 51, 54, 56 (tested), 58, 61cm.
By Karl Rosengarth, photos by Justin Steiner
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed a resurgence of simple, reliable bikes designed for short-haul transportation. Linus Bikes of Venice, California, offers just such a lineup of basic-transportation bicycles that take their styling clues from classic French bikes of the 1950-60s and utilitarian Dutch city bikes. According to Linus Bikes’ founder Adam McDermott, the Roadster 8 is “an all-around city bike, intended for everyday use and utility.”
The Roadster exudes a classy retro vibe. I especially like the way the painted-to-match metal fenders unify the look, from stem to stern. On a practical note, there’s nothing like full-length fenders to keep you singing in the rain. With the 8-speed gearing tucked inside the rear hub, the silhouette is clean and uncluttered. The alloy rear rack lets you know that this steed has some workhorse in its bloodline. Utility indeed.
With the traditional quill stem, it was a snap to adjust the handlebar height. I opted for a body position with a slight forward lean, as opposed to bolt-upright. I felt well-balanced, over the center of the bike, and in a “heads-up” posture where I could keep my eyes on traffic and the road ahead.
From the first ride, I noticed the Roadster’s decidedly quick steering response. Snappy steering makes perfect sense on a bike built for slicing through city streets. The only time that the quick steering felt out of place was going fast downhill—the bike wouldn’t toler- ate much steering input before things turned twitchy. Under said conditions, the bike be- haved better if I steered with my hips, or via some body lean, rather than with the bars.
The Shimano Nexus 8-speed drivetrain provided ample gearing for conquering my hilly surroundings. Only on the steepest grades did I have to get out of the saddle. When I did stand on the pedals, I was pleased to find that the wide handlebars were far enough out in front of my lap to provide sufficient leverage.
The 4130 chromoly steel frame and fork responded to hard pedaling efforts with the lively, efficient feeling that I’ve come to expect from quality steel steeds. No wasted effort, thank you very much. My definition of “lively” includes the fact that the bike let me feel the road, without having the road beat me up.
The Roadster 8 was the perfect horse for the five-mile course to the office. It was a breeze to click my pannier (filled with daily needs) onto the rear rack, retract the included kick- stand, hop aboard, and pedal—rain or shine.
The Roadster handled my grocery run, also about five miles each way, with ease. A pair of panniers loaded with provisions was well within this steed’s capabilities. The load barely affected the bike’s handling, and the Tektro dual pivot caliper brakes kept everything under control on the way downhill.
Linus did an admirable job of outfitting this bike with solid components, and not sneaking any zingers in there. I was impressed with the great traction (wet or dry) and smooth ride offered by the Schwalbe 700x32c Delta Cruiser tires (with reflective sidewalls). I enjoyed the real leather grips and comfortable leather-covered touring saddle. The bolt-on 36-spoke wheels (remember to carry your 15mm tool) were nondescript, but to their credit were built using double-wall alloy rims. I’m a bell person, so I’m giving Linus bonus points for spec’ing a sweet metal bell.
The $839 asking price seems appropriate, considering that the package includes a tried and true Shimano 8-speed drivetrain, solid components, metal fenders, and an alloy rack. Available in cream (tested) and black, the Roadster is a fun-to-ride looker that’s perfectly suited for the daily grind.
- Age: 55
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 150lbs.
- Inseam: 32”
- Country of Origin: China
- Price: $839
- Weight: 33.3lbs.
- Sizes: Medium (51cm), Large (59cm, tested)
By Karl Rosengarth
Sherman, set the Way-Back-in-the-Day Machine to the year 1981, and the place: Phoenix, Arizona. The objective of our mission: the Belt Beacon.
During a recent basement-cleaning session, I stumbled upon my Belt Beacon, the first flashing bike safety light that I ever purchased. I was living in Phoenix at the time, and to the best of my knowledge the year was 1981. I can’t remember if other "blinky" lights were widely available at that time, but a friend recommended the Belt Beacon, so I ended up purchasing one.
As you can see from the photo at the top of the page, the Belt Beacon is a behemoth by today’s standards, eerily reminiscent of a motorcycle tail light from the same era.
Despite it’s awkward form factor, the Belt Beacon gave me years of reliable service before it stopped working. I tried to trouble-shoot the circuit, but my limited electrical engineering skill were not up to the task. I can’t bring myself to toss it out. Perhaps, one day, I might solve the mystery and resuscitate this piece of history.
The photo above shows the unit with the translucent orange plastic cap popped off, and reveals the high-intensity lamp that gave Belt Beacon it’s retina-searing brightness. Even by current standards, this baby was bright! And the dome-shaped cover provided great side-visibility to boot.
The black mark and scar at the six o’clock positon on the orange cover was caused by my rear tire rubbing on it. I recall that I had mounted the Belt Beacon on my rear rack’s reflector bracket. Somehow the bracket got bent, causing the cover to drag on my rear wheel. I can’t believe it wore such a deep groove before I noticed. Oops!
The photo above shows the rear of the unit. A small, black on/off switch is located at the six o’clock position. The screw and washers at 12 o’clock were used to attach the Belt Beacon to the reflector mount.
You can also see two diagonally-opposed mounting holes (at 4 and 10 o’clock) that, along with a pair of provided screws, were to be used for mounting the Belt Beacon to a fabric strap, or a backpack, or a wide fender. I never used that attachment method.
The slot at three o’clock in the photo was used to attach a provided metal belt-clip, which was designed to be worn: "on a belt, head sweat band, or hung over any convenient object," according to the instructions (yes, I kept them). The belt clip worked well, as I recall. It went MIA at some point.
The instruction sheet includes the following passage: "Motorists, especially inattentive, tired or intoxicated, are a real danger to hikers and bikers who travel at night. Your real safety, in the absence of good paths, depends on being highly visible and getting motorist’s attention. Your solid state Belt Beacon electronically drives a high intensity lamp, and does so at low cost with high portability and exceptionally long battery life."
The warning about "inattentive, tired or intoxicated" drivers still rings true today. Sadly, the streets haven’t gotten any safer in the past 30 years.
Another paragraph from the instructions has this to say: "Backpackers, hunters, airplane pilots and night fishermen will find the portability and long battery life make the Belt Beacon a good addition to their usual kits. If lost or an emergency arises, the Belt Beacon will flash strongly approx. 1-2 weeks or more at night."
True story: the Belt Beacon saved by bacon on one particular "power-boat camping" trip. I used it to illuminate my remote camp-spot at night while I motored back to the docks to pick up a late arriving friend. Using the Belt Beacon as a signaling device on the shoreline was most likely highly illegal, but If it weren’t for the bright strobe indicating my remote camp spot, I’d probably have run out of gas looking for my camp in the dark.
I was able to track down some Belt Beacon history via Cyclelicious who indicated that the Ampec company from Phoenix started selling the Belt Beacon in 1974, and stopped making them in the late ’90s. That’s right about the time that LED safety lights burst onto the scene. The folks from Cateye tell me that they introduced their first LED blinky in the USA in 1992.
Let’s hear from you. What’s your earliest recollection of blinky lights? Which model did you first purchase? Do you remember the Belt Beacon? Please comment below.