Maurice Tierney

Maurice Tierney

Title

Jack of all trades, master of none. Chief cook and bottle washer. Small Cheese.

Yeah, but what do you ACTUALLY do around here?

Kissing hands and shaking babies. Keeping it real is a full time job.

What do you think about when you're riding your bike?

Why does that tree stump look like a wild boar waiting to eat me?

How would you rate your coffee consumption on a scale of 8-10?

Morning only.

Complete this sentence: "My other bike is …"

pinball machine.

What are you eating, drinking, reading, or fearing these days?

Mission burritos, Jeffersons Bourbon

Elvis or the Beatles?

The Beatles

Say something profound and meaningful in exactly seven words…

If you don't run you rust, man.

I like your answers. How can I get in touch with you?

Email me

Join us Saturday for the 6th San Francisco Bike Expo

You’re invited to the Cow Palace for free admission, 230 exhibitors and 48,000 square feet of bikes and beyond.

Dozens of cycling teams, clubs and individuals have purchased tables at the bike swap, while more than 50 manufacturers have signed up for full exhibit booths in the Expo area.

Handmade bicycle enthusiasts are once again offered the opportunity of a complementary on-site photo session for their beautiful bicycles at the Handmade Bicycle Guide studio.

Valet bike parking is free and will be provided by Potrero Bicycle Works, and the expo hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Auto parking is $10 and attendees are requested to arrive by bicycle or to ride share.

What: San Francisco Bicycle Expo

Where: Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, California

When: November 16th, 2013, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission: FREE

expofront


Join us at Pedalfest in Oakland, July 20

By Maurice Tierney

Now in its third year, Pedalfest in Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif., offers something for everyone, not just committed cyclists, not just bike riders, but people off the street that might not otherwise get turned on to bikes in all their goodness. That’s a turn-on.

 

There’s music courtesy of Rock The Bike’s pedal-powered sound stage all day. Right around the corner is the New Belgium beer tent in support of the East Bay Bike Coalition. Then you’ll find the Bicycle Times/Dirt Rag tent, where we’ll be giving away some sweet goodies when you subscribe to either magazine. And that’s down the road from the Whiskeydrome, where fearless feats of derring-do take place on a 30 foot wide banked—and I mean BANKED track—which is sure to please those with an appetite for destruction.

If that doesn’t suit your fancy our friends at Brompton will be holding folding bike races, hopefully NOT on the Whiskeydrome, plus there is the kid’s bike rodeo, BMX Stunt Team performances, the display of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame, the Meet Your Maker framebuilder ride, the bicycle-trivia dunk tank, the New Belgium beer garden and if that’s not enough, Cyclecide will be there!

Join us July 20 in Jack London Square. See you there!

Events

Whiskeydrome Stunt Action

Cycling daredevils will ride at thrilling speeds and perform exciting stunts in a 30-foot banked wooden velodrome!

BMX Stunt Team Performances

TGC Actions Sports/BMX Stunt Team with James Brom returns to Pedalfest for an action-packed day of BMX riding competition including eye-popping jumps, wheelies, bike stunts and more.

Oaklandish’s Kids Bicycle Parade

Be a part of Oaklandish’s kids bicycle parade and help kick-off 2013 Pedalfest! Children are invited to show up with already-decorated bicycles, or they can deck-out their bikes at a special Oaklandish decorating station, at 11 AM. The parade will cruise through Jack London Square at 12 PM.

Bicycle Stunt Shows

Professional stunt riders Chris Clarke and Mike Steidley will wow crowds with exciting, two-wheeled stunts showcasing bicycle balancing and agility on obstacles!

Rock the Bike’s Pedal-powered Sound Stage

Enjoy live music on Rock the Bike’s pedal-powered sound stage that produces electricity from the pedaling of stationary bicycles! Enjoy performances by the following groups:
Noon: Antioquia. Afro-Columbian Progress Rock.

1 p.m.: Cello Joe. One-Man, One Cello | Bike-touring, BeatBoxing-Cellist Genius

2. p.m.: Antioquia

3 p.m.: Conbrio. Powerful vocals and soulful grooves that blends old-school grit with new-school sophistication

4 p.m.: Will Magid Band. Deep drum groove with trumpet lead “…sweet spot between traditional vibe and global beat.”

5 p.m.: HoneySweet. R&B vocals with blues and rock influence

6 p.m.: Fossil Fool. The Bike Rapper and Rock The Bike’s founder takes the mic and sings funny, soulful hiphop with a not-so-subtle Bike Bias.

U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame

A collection of vintage bikes.

Handmade Bicycles on Display

Dozens of top independent bicycle frame builders including Petaluma-based Soulcraft and Retrotec will showcase their handmade steel creations.

Pedal-powered Art & Food

Hop on stationary bicycles and pedal to create smoothies and enjoy other pedal-powered treats including coffee, tacos, ice cream and more! Pedalfest-goers are also invited to create pedal-powered spin art to take home and enjoy!

Brompton Folding Bike Race

To celebrate the upcoming Brompton World Championship, Pedalfest will host a Brompton Folding Bike Race throughout the day. Contestants will race against the clock and each other to see who can fold and unfold their Brompton Folding Bike in record time. Prizes will be awarded to the fastest fold!

Kids Bicycle Rodeo

A team of youth cycling instructors will lead a fun-filled bicycle rodeo for children throughout the day including a bike safety course, skills building lessons and bicycle safety instructions. Bikes and helmets will be provided to participating children, grades 3-6.

Pedal-powered Rides by Cyclecide

Little kids, big kids and kids-at-heart will enjoy whimsical fun on The Cyclofuge, a kiddie carousel, a bike corral of altered bikes and more!

Bike Stand Demo Stage

This festival stage will host contests, demos, tricks and DIY bicycle tips throughout the day!

Bike Trivia Dunk Tank

Bike geeks and cycling newbies can test their two-wheeled knowledge of bike safety trivia against Pedalfest bicycle safety instructors. For each correct answer, participants have a chance to dunk the instructor or other event VIPs in a midway style dunk tank!

Bicycles and Bike Gear

Check out the latest bicycles, gear, clothing and accessories from dozens of bicycle vendors.

New Belgium Beer Garden

New Belgium Brewing Co. will pour beer with all proceeds going to support the advocacy work of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, a non-profit organization.

Pedalfest Pig Roast by Lungomare

Lungomare’s Chef Craig DiFonzo will slow-roast a whole pig and serve it up Italian style with a bountiful selection of side dishes for all to enjoy. Click here for all the details and a special price for those who reserve in advance.


 


An interview with Paul Freedman, the Fossil Fool

By Maurice Tierney

Years ago I ran into this dude calling himself the “Fossil Fool” on the Vegas strip during the Interbike trade show, rapping away about bicycles on a bicycle-mounted sound system. It’s been a good 15 years, and as I continue to run into Paul on a regular basis, I get more and more fascinated with all the rad bicycle stuff spinning around in his orbit.

There are copycats and there are crazy cats, and this dude’s an original. Besides the Fossil Fool gig, he’s currently got his hands into Rock The Bike, Yuba Bikes and The Bicycle Music Festival. Let’s see what more we can learn…

So Paul, I first met you as the Fossil Fool, rapping outside the Interbike convention hall. Can you tell me how that developed?

Bike rapping…I have always enjoyed wordplay. My first bike rap was “No Bikes In The Yard,” which I wrote about the rule at Harvard that you have to walk your bikes in Harvard Yard. After moving to the Bay Area, I found an outlet for my musicality through street performing and on early “Millie Tours” with Xtracycle. This was back when Kipchoge Spencer was at the helm of their marketing as well as at the helm of Millie (their vegetable oil-powered touring bus). There was a real appreciation of music and spontaneous performance in that community and they definitely encouraged me to develop the bike raps. I began creating my own performing niche using “Soul Cycles” (custom music bikes) and appearing in front of cafes, at Maker Faire, Critical Mass, and at our own Bicycle Music Festival.

And then what?

Well, having come out of Harvard with the aim of being successful in the world of Internet startups, knowing the guys from Xtracycle gave me a window into an alternate reality where the goal was to have fun, change the world, and make money, perhaps in that order.

I co-founded and ran Worldbike.org (Xtracycle’s nonprofit arm) from 2003-2006. During that time I had access to the “Tinkers Workshop” space that is now Rock The Bike. I was experimenting with building sound systems. I think when I met you in Las Vegas I was probably riding an earlier model “Soul Cycle.” The music bike interest morphed into my human-powered music passion after sharing a workshop with Nate Byerley, who invented our Bike Blenders (Rock the Bike’s best-selling product). Nate now runs Xtracycle with Ross Evans—small world.

I also am a partner in Yuba Bicycles, so I am fortunate to be on the inside with both of these small cargo bike companies, by virtue of having met these guys when I moved to California. Benjamin Sarrazin, of Yuba, Ross and Kipchoge are all a few years older than I, so it has been very influential seeing how they were growing their bicycle businesses. I don’t think I could or would be doing it without their example.

What’s the deal with Rock The Bike?

We’re bike people. We’re inventors and advocates working away in a sweet little workshop in Berkeley, California, pushing the limits of bike culture. Our mission is to get people in touch with their ability to make a real, lasting impact in the ongoing climate crisis, through pedal-powered event activities and products that help bike people shine in their communities. We want lots more people to think, “Pedaling is cool. I want to ride a bike.” Our dream is to help spread the spirit of the bike into the broader culture by organizing, entertaining, inspiring, educating and inventing new ways to get the message out there. And more importantly, we help our customers spread the message in their communities.

What are some of the more interesting and creative uses for Rock the Bike products that you’ve seen or heard about?

Bike-blending krill for the fish at Aquarium By The Bay, and Cabot Creamery setting the world’s record for Largest Smoothie. A customer, Wheely Good Smoothies in Baltimore, has built up imaginative shapes around bike blenders, like an electric guitar, a horse and a mosaic bike. In the pedal power world, it’s Kipchoge and the Pleasant Revolution (his band that tours by bike) leading multi-country tours and using modified JBL loudspeakers for their nightly shows.

I also think we’re doing some of the coolest stuff with our own products: pedal powering Bill McKibben’s recent speech on divesting from fossil fuel companies on the City Hall steps in San Francisco (with a stock One Bike/One Speaker sound system), powering a high school prom (students pedaling in prom dresses and tuxes), and putting on the Bicycle Music Festival.

Lately, I’ve seen you around San Francisco on a ginormous, tree-shaped bicycle, so big that it sports outriggers. Where’d you get the idea for “El Arbol”?

My ideas for music bikes have been getting more ambitious. I started with plywood and made shapes that were angular. Then I moved on to curved forms. El Arbol was probably the sixth or eighth Soul Cycle I’ve made. I had been making these in the Tinkers Workshop, where Rock The Bike has its headquarters. One of my mentors there was Danny Zolotow, who saw my potential for working with fiberglass. He showed me how you can take a chunk of foam, sand or carve it into any shape, cover it with glass, and then dissolve or remove the foam and get a hollow reproduction of your shape. It got me thinking—what if, instead of putting a speaker box on the back (or front) of a load-carrying bike, I could have the speaker box be the bike? So there wouldn’t have to be a frame; the speaker would be the frame. Then after a period of hibernation, I started drawing the Tree.

So all this pedal-powered sound and motion has something to do with the Bicycle Music Festival?

The Bicycle Music Festival came about in the experimental phase of pedal powering music about seven-eight years ago. I had met a musician named Gabe Dominguez who came to my shop with great persistence, and coaxed me to translate my passion for Soul Cycling into a lightweight touring-ready sound system. Of course we had to look hard at the batteries, one of the heaviest components. The irony is that we now use such amazing batteries (for mobile sound) that are actually lighter than the pedal-powered gear. But that’s OK, because we’ve now discovered other reasons to power shows with our bodies, mostly to achieve the goal of a community-powered music experience and to turn people on to their ability to make an impact in the climate fight.

Anyway, Gabe and I were pumped about having hit on something cool so we decided…let’s do a festival!

How many years has the Festival been going? What’s in store for this year?

This will be our seventh. We’re focusing like never before on the audience experience. In previous years, we would do our daytime festival, break down and pack all the gear onto cargo bikes and trailers, then move with our audience through the city while enjoying a LiveOnBike performance, then set it up again at our night venue.

Our audiences love our LiveOnBike rides, but there has been as much as two hours of wait time for breakdown and set-up. And this number was destined to increase with our new line array (of speakers). So this year, we decided to use duplicate gear to allow us to start the night concert immediately after the LiveOnBike ride arrives. This moveable feast will be much more enjoyable to the audience. We’ll still be carrying everything by bike, but people won’t have to wait for us to break everything down.

What was your favorite moment at a Bicycle Music Festival?

Rolling out of Golden Gate Park with the LiveOnBike Parade is pretty uplifting. Then hitting city traffic and continuing to keep our spirits high as we head to the night venue. Seeing people lean out of apartment windows in amazement at our street theater. In terms of all-time moments, one I’d have to mention was in 2009. The festival was still unpermitted, and we ate it big-time as park rangers in Golden Gate Park tried to shut us down. The delays caused us to cut half of the acts, and by the end of the day we were wiped as we headed out to the last of our festival stops: a public pier. Gabe and I had no energy and were thinking, “How little do we have to do to get through this last band?” But the last band was Tornado Rider, and they brought it! Soon everyone was dancing, finding new energy, and singing, “I’m a falcon!”

What do you hope to accomplish with your various endeavors? Any future goals?

Global warming (and environmental destruction in general) is such a daunting problem—it can be hard to even look at it. But bicycling (cargo biking in particular) and pedal power are emblematic of real solutions, where the environmentally responsible choice also makes your life better, makes your community stronger, and in some cases costs a lot less.

A pedal-powered concert is a micro energy environment where people can see and feel that energy has to come from somewhere. Energy is not free. The whole attitude that energy is free comes from our over-reliance and subsidy of fossil fuels. A major change in attitudes has to happen, but guilt trips don’t work. It’s got to happen through opening hearts and minds. Music is a major tool for that. A pedal-powered concert or a bicycle-mobile concert is way more fun than a diesel-powered concert. There are more ways to be involved. And you’re much less likely to go home with your ears ringing.

My personal mission right now is to advance pedal-powered concert sound to the point where music fans love it and demand it, start biking to shows, and grow an awareness of the hypocrisy of music events in which the message is peace and love, but the power source is fuel from the Middle East.

Bicycle Music Festival

Join the party this Saturday at Golden Gate Park from noon until 5 p.m., followed by a "Live On Bike" performance parade across the city to the Mission District. It’s free for all ages! The organizers are also hosting a fundraiser to offset some of the permit costs, so chip in if you can. 


Review: Yuba elMundo long-tail e-bike

By Maurice Tierney

The Yuba elMundo is a utilitarian wonderbike, bringing heavy hauling capability at a fair price. We tested Yuba’s Mundo in Issue #7 and found it to be one of the strongest long-tail cargo bike options out there, with its well-buttressed steel frame. (Read that review here) It also boasted huge payload capacity and affordability. In this review we’ll cover Version 4 and its improvements over Version 3, including its electric-ready capability.

Having always been an enthusiastic mountain biker, it was easy for me to scoff at the idea of a motor on my bicycle, but things change quickly when you decide to be a card- and-cargo-carrying Utility Cyclist. A motorized cargo machine has many advantages. I can bust a move quickly into the flow of traffic, even with a heavy load on board. Riding at the same speed as traffic is a heck of a lot safer than being a slow-moving vehicle in a fast-moving world. Plus I can pick up my significant other after work and give her a luxurious ride to our evening’s activities without breaking a sweat. These are just a few of my favorite things…

I have been doing half my riding on this bike since last fall. I can leave the home/office on the elMundo and go wherever I want, as far as I want, and never have to worry about where I am going, or who or what I might pick up along the way. Magazines, lumber, stereo equipment, other bicycles, spare clothing, party supplies, groceries. These are some of the things you can find in my saddlebags at any given moment.

There are numerous improvements in the Yuba Mundo (with and without motor) for Version 4. For starters, Yuba took 8lbs. off the bike. This is significant for the non-electric Mundo, which now weighs 48lbs. The elMundo weighs 61lbs. with motor and battery. Mine is closer to 90 with all the accoutrements I have to bring along. With its huge class-leading 440lb. (plus rider) cargo capacity, the weight of the bike itself is of little consequence. As for sizing, both Mundos fit riders from 5” to 6’ 5”.

Other improvements from Version 3 include a SRAM X3/X5 drivetrain, double-wall rims, and Freedom tires. The quill stem is also gone in favor of a threadless headset set-up. It’s less adjustable yet more modern. The rear wheel now features a 14mm solid axle riding on cartridge bearings for strength and low maintenance. And of course, V.4 is electric-ready, as the place for the battery has been designed into the frame.

The component choices are definitely on the budget side to keep the non-electric Mundo under $1,200. The SRAM 21-speed drivetrain is solid and should remain functional for many years (except for the crank and chainrings, which are not serviceable since they are riveted together). The rear wheel has 48 spokes for strength under abusive conditions, while the front wheel sports a hearty 36. The handlebar, stem, seat, and post are all fairly average and functional. The Mundo ships with Promax V-brakes, while the elMundo adds a generic disc brake for the rear.

I did upgrade the saddle to a Brooks and the brakes to Avid mechanical discs, front and rear, mostly because I plan to keep this bike around a while, and also because I wanted the superior power of the Avids for the steep hills in my ‘hood. A taller stem was also in order; as well as bigger, fatter, burlier tires—Panaracer Uff Da 2.3’s provided curb-slamming capability.

You really need to try an e-bike to see what it’s like. The motor is not burn-rubber, pop-a-wheelie strong, but it opens up with authority. This came in handy the most when get- ting started with a load, getting into traffic and such, but believe me, there is still plenty of pedaling to do if you want to stretch battery life. I tried to make the battery last as long as possible, with most charges lasting well over 20 miles. But I’d venture you’d get a good bit less if you didn’t pedal at all (depending on load and terrain, of course). Cost to recharge is estimated at 3-5 cents per charge, and the battery is good for 500 full cycles. Replacement batteries sell for $690.

The front-drive electric system is by eZee. My bike has a 400-watt brushless motor with a 10ah battery. The motor is activated by a twist of the motorcycle-style throttle, and is independent of pedaling. As mandated bylaw, the motor cuts out above 20mph. I have yet to run out of power climbing some of the steepest hills in the San Francisco area.

Yes, I did have to pedal. I’m still a rider, just trying to get my load around town in the most efficient, car-free way possible. Charging is advertised at six hours; I found it best to charge every night before bedtime, to always be prepared. (Note that current elMundos are shipping with a new 500-watt motor, for more juice!)

One thing that all Yuba’s come with is fenders, and that is a good thing. They are decent, quiet, adjustable plastic fenders that will fit different-size tires if you like. A bell is also standard, as it should be. And as of today, the (I consider essential) center kick- stand and Deflopilator front wheel parking stabilizer are now standard.

Additional accessories on my test machine included two of the Go-Getter waterproof bags for easy grocery hauling ($129/ea), as well as three items for my passenger: a Soft Spot seat cushion ($30), Hold On handlebars ($60), and Running Boards ($60). Parents of small urchins will need a Peanut Shell child seat accessory ($169) or two. And I also en- joyed the benefit of the Bread Basket front rack ($129). It mounts to the frame rather than the front wheel, keeping steering easy and giving me one more place to put stuff.

While perhaps smirked at by many a cycling enthusiast, electric bikes are coming of age as we speak. More people on more bikes means more people making a smaller footprint on the ever-stretching earth. This bike’s combo of huge cargo capacity, effective motor, and reasonable price made a big impression on me. The Yuba elMundo is a game-changer for this cyclist. I’ll be riding this one for a long while.


Join us at the Seattle Bike Expo this weekend

We’re packing up the van and heading to Seattle this weekend for the largest consumer bike expo in the USA. Once again held at the deluxe, two-story Smtih Cove Cruise Terminal overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, we’ll be joining more than 200 other exhibitors of bikes, gear, travel, services, and more.

If you’re into mountain bikes, be sure to check out the Dirt Zone, a collection of exhibitors serving the fat-tire side of cycling, and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and Sweetlines will be hosting skills clinics in the Stunt Area.  

You’ll get a chance to meet Olympic silver medalist Jennie Reed, six-time world champion as well as Paralympic gold and silver Olympic medalist Megan Fisher, professional trials and mountain bike rider Ryan Leech (above), and dominant gravity mountain biker Jill Kintner.

The Classic Lightweight Bike Show has a "drillim" theme this year, where collectors have revived the 1970s practice of drilling out parts to save weight and add some bling. As always, all classic lightweight bikes are welcome in theshow, and the more the merrier. You will see British, Italian, French, American, Belgian, Japanese and other countries’ bikes represented, in one of the most dazzling shows of fancy bikes anywhere. Also welcome are "Keepers of the Flame" – modern custom lugged steel bikes equipped with classic style components. If you think your bike belongs in this show, bring it on down.

Finally, be sure to swing by the Cascade Bicycle Club booth to enter the drawing for some great prizes. 

See you there!


Revisiting our time spent with Alex Moulton

Editor’s note: After the unfortunate passing of cycling innovator Dr. Alex Moulton earlier this week, we wanted to share the story of our 2010 visit with Moulton in England. It is reproduced here.

By Maurice Tierney.

While the previously reported Brooks and Pashley factory tours were amazing, the highlight of the whole journey was a hour spent with a 90 year old man by the name of Alex Moulton. I really had no idea what I was getting into as we approached his modest home in Bradford-on-Avon.

What the? Is going on here? Who the heck is Alex Moulton? Turns out Mister Alex Moulton’s great grandfather, Stephen Moulton, brought Goodyear’s vulcanizing process to England back in 1840 or so. Alex himself was also a rubber pioneer, developing the hydrolastic* suspension that, along with the smaller wheel size, allowed the original Mini Cooper to be so mini. We got a look at one such Mini at the Moulton Museum residing on the estate.

In the late 50’s, Alex turned his attention to the bicycle and pioneered a design that would become quite the rage in the early 60’s. And remain relevant 50 years later. Small wheels had not been considered seriously against the then-standard double-diamond “Safety” bicycle, but Moulton was eager to challenge the staus quo after observing the benefits of smaller wheels in automotive use.

Thinking that the lower inertia of small wheels made for faster acceleration and an easier-to-mount frame design. And while Moulton’s were not designed as folding bikes, they were easy to disassemble for travel. And if that is not enough, Moultons were fully suspended for a comfy ride. How about that for ahead of your time?

Moulton showed his bike to Raleigh in hopes of licencing the design them to manufacture. But Raleigh was not interested. So Moulton set up his own factory and went ahead anyway. The Moulton bike took off in the early 60’s; their bicycle factory became the second largest in England behind Raleigh (Who I’m told was making like 7,000 bikes per day). Moulton sold 200,000 bikes before Raleigh knocked off the idea and took over the market with their RSW series. Moulton wound up selling out to Raleigh in 1967, just in time for the Raleigh Chopper to steal the limelight and rush the market.

That’s the ancient history. Much more has happened through the 70’s and 80’s, yet today the Moulton factory still sits in a former stable on the same property where it all began. Let’s take a look.

Inside the blue door on the right, the Moulton team is hard at work making bikes.

By hand.


And barely have time to stop for a photo.

With these kind of results. This New Series model is made of stainless steel, and is worth near $15,725 American. It’s called a Space Frame and there’s a whole bunch of little tubes that come together to form one. It’s no wonder they are expensive.

But Moulton, being connected with Pashley, has some more affordable offerings being made in the Pashley factory in Stratford-Upon-Avon, ranging from $1,900-$3,600.

But Alex Moulton awaits. We have been granted a one-hour audience with the man. He is 90 after all so we understand. We are led into his great room and gather around a rather large dining table to talk. Whereupon Mister Moulton share some of his exploits. The cat listens in.

Alex shared his thoughts on his first and only mountain bike ride, which left him wondering why anyone would do such a thing as ride down a mountain. Perhaps if he had bigger wheels the experience might have been better? Alex talked about how he didn’t like the crossbar on the conventional bikes of the day. He liked recumbents but found them unstable. Small wheels were the answer. We also heard about the numerous records that have been broken riding Moulton bicycles over the years. And looked through his biography, full of pictures and drawings of his designs.

I myself was in a bit of awe at this guy nearly twice my age. Pretty cool. He’s done so much.

Got to ride some bikes as well, around the test track on the property, a good time to blow off a little steam after so much travelling. And think. About all the people that have influence the bicycle through history. On and on…


Join us at the San Franciso Bike Expo this weekend

 

By Maurice Tierney. Photos by Maurice from 2011. 

There’s something for everyone at the SF Bike Expo this weekend, November 10 and 11. If you are in the Bay Area and reading this, you need to be there.

Aside from the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times Magazine booths, where glorious free stuff will be handed out to every new and renewing subscriber, there’s something for everyone. The diversity of cycling culture is what it’s all about.

 

New this year is the Ballwhackers Ball Bicycle Polo tournament, of which Bicycle Times is a sponsor. If you’ve never played polo by bike it is easy to get into and a lot of fun. 

 

For the dirt jumping crowd there’s AT’s Showdown, where you’ll be impressed by the derring-do of world class air-getters stunting for big prize money, or jumping yourself in the new amateur competion. 

 

What else? Ya gotta wear clothes, the Pedal Savvy fashion show will help you with that. 

 

And the Uproar Fixed Gear comp should be interesting. 

Custom frame builders, The Kids Zone, lowriders, scraper bikes. It is all good! Don’t know what a scraper bike is? Get over here! A flea market swap will serve you buying and selling needs as well.

See you there!


First look at new bikes, gear from Salsa, All-City, and more

By Maurice Tierney,

Maurice here. I just attended Saddledrive, a dealer and press event hosted by Quality Bicycle Products at its Ogden, Utah, distribution center. Many QBP brands were represented here: Salsa, Surly, All-City, and Civia to name a few. Let’s see what I found…

Wait a sec, this is a bicycle magazine, not “Rat Rod Action”. Sorry.

Civia showed of its line of Twin City bikes, which according to General Manager Burton Avery, are designed for a “New Wave” of neighborhood cycling being enjoyed by “The Creative Class”. Nice poppy colors are the order of the day, with step-through and step-over models ranging from a $545 coaster brake machine to a $995 seven-speed internally-geared model with racks and fenders already in place. There’s also a derailleur-equipped 8-speed model and a five-speed internal in between. They look great!

Another QBP brand, All-City, is growing up. Yours truly had kind of stigmatized them as a fixie brand, but those fixie-kids are moving on into a huge whole world of cycling. Hence bikes like the Macho Man, a geared bike based on the popular singlespeed Nature Boy. The Macho Man rocks the same tight cyclocross race geometry while adding gears. All-City is setting themselves apart from the rest with using their own custom, size-specific butted tubing as well as custom-designed dropouts. Performance, quick handling, and attention to details are the real deal. $1,595 complete.

All-City also showed the Space Horse, its light touring-rough and all-purpose road bike. With new All-City lugs and semi-horizontal dropouts with hard stops (kind of like lawyer tabs but better), the Space Horse is good for 38mm tires with fenders, 42’s without. Rack and fender mounts, internal top tube cable routing? All present. All–City also uses a special coating inside the tubes, negating the need for Frame Saver. $1,450 complete. We have a Spacehorse in the house for a long-term review, so keep an eye out in the magazine. 

I also got to check out the Salsa Vaya travel/touring bike, now available with S&S couplers. The big deal on this one the stainless steel frame, which while tricky to manufacture, provides a finish that can be polished up like new anytime it gets scratched and won’t rust. Salsa’s own “Alternator” dropouts provide single speed capability, chainstay-length adjustment, and easy packability. Rack mounts and clearance for 40mm tires without fenders round out the package. I am told the Vaya is the first production stainless steel bike on the market.

I also got to meet some cool people. Take Anna Schwinn here, she’s an engineer for the Foundry brand. She designed these cool Whiskey carbon, disk-ready, thru-axle road forks we wrote about earlier.

Lazer showed off some tweedy-looking helmets.

And I ran into our friends from Freeze-Thaw out in State College, feel the love.

To finish things off I got to ride on Circulus! But that’s another story…


Whisky unveils new thru-axle, disc-brake road and cyclocross forks

   

By Maurice Tierney,

Whisky Parts Co. just unveiled the first carbon fiber, disc-brake, thru-axle road and cyclocross forks here at the Saddledrive dealer event in Ogden, Utah.

Road? Cross? Thru-axle? Why yes, it is a stellar idea. Whisky’s mantra is is to make tough and durable parts, and these parts express that emotion rather well.

Being a small brand, it’s easy for Whisky to bring new ideas to the market quickly.

Thru-axles provide consistent, solid attachment of wheels to bicycles, they are a boon for safety, speed, and ride responsiveness. Cross bikes are going to disc brakes, it only makes sense to take it to the thru-axle level for consistent race wheel changes too.

The three forks use a mini Maxle, for standard 100mm road spacing. All steerers are tapered. The cross version has mondo tire clearance, and thee road versions are available in both 43mm and 49mm offsets. They weight in at  430 grams without the axle, which 70 grams or so compared to standard QR’s. 

We’re told the road fork will clear a 700x35c tire, and the ‘cross fork even managed to swallow a 29×2.0!


Yuba launches new cargo cruiser with a great party

By Maurice Tierney

Yuba unveiled its new Boda Boda last Wednesday at its shop in Sausalito, and I had to be there for free beer and some good company. As you may have already heard here, the Boda Boda is Yuba’s new short/long bike (Mid-tail anyone?).

While I myself have been rocking the Yuba Mundo longbike to its full 450lb, capacity (look for our full review in issue #19) I think they are going to sell a lot of Boda Bodas because they are a bit more convenient, weighing only 35 lbs, and are short enough to fit into smaller places a bit easier. I am gonna say it offers 85 percent of the functionality in a smaller, lighter, less expensive package.

Unlike The one-size-fits-most Mundo, the BB comes in two sizes, a medium, step-through frame to fit riders 5’0″ to 5’7″ and a large, non-step-through for riders 5’7″ to 6’2″

The name Boda Boda comes from Africa, where bikes with back seats have been used as taxis for some time. As you can see, the Boda Boda is perfect for picking up a passenger, while still enjoying a beer. Capacity is 220lbs. plus driver.

 

Boda Bodas are compatable with all the same accessories as the Mundo, including the Breadbasket front rack and the kid seat.

Congratulations to Lindsay A. She came the closest to guessing what the Boda Boda Cargo Cruiser would be like, and has won herself a new bike! Here is her drawing…

So let the fun begin. Yours truly pedaled the pedal-powered music system…

So Paul could get his Fossil Fool Rap on for our entertainment. Beer courtesy of Lagunitas, A Little Sumpin to be enjoyed.

While the man behind the curtain, Ben Sarrazin, mastered the ceremonies.

Families had family fun, looks like the Boda Boda can still carry a load of love.…

Music was played…

And heck, what good party would not be complete without some pallet burning and fire jumping?

Good times were had, for sure. I really like what the Yuba peeps are up to in Sausalito.


In for test: Yuba E-Mundo electric assist

By Maurice Tierney

The folks at Yuba are now on version four of their Mundo longbike. V3 was reviewed in Bicycle Times #7 and the new version features some improvements while still retailing for a mere $1,099. A working class price for a working bike, yessir.

We’ve got the electric version of the Mundo in for test currently. It retails for $2,597. An electric bike? Whodathunk? Having always been an “enthusiast”, “mountain biker” and then later in life a “cyclist” I was skeptical. Would I lose my “Purity” as a cyclist? Let’s see…

Epiphanies:

That I could bust a move quickly into the flow of traffic even with nearly 500 pounds of mass on board. As any dedicated cyclist will tell you, riding at the same speed as traffic is a hell of a lot safer than being a slow moving vehicle in a fast moving world.

That I can get somewhere in a hurry if need be, at a speed of up to 22mph. This makes it generally easier to choose the bike when in a time crunch.

That I could pick up my “Significant Other” after work and give her a luxurious ride to our evenings activities without breaking a sweat. The Mundo does fit riders from 5” to 6’ 5”.

I could be an aggressive, enthusiastic mountain biker or (Heaven Forbid) road racer and not worry about having the energy to ride for utility on “Rest days”.

Interesting. As we have reported in the past, the Yuba Mundo offers one of the most solid long/cargo bike options out there with its well-buttressed Hi-tensile steel frame, high payload capacity, and affordability.

Standard features include a Sram 3×7 (21 speed) drivetrain, stout 48 spoke double-wall-rimmed wheels, a rear disk brake, and fenders. Accessories on my test machine include the Go Getter waterproof bag for easy grocery hauling, as well as a Soft Spot seat cushion, Hold On handlebars, and Running Boards for my passenger. Must-have is the beefy center stand that makes parking a breeze.

The electric system is by eZee. It’s 400 watt brushless motor will take you 12-20 miles with its 10 ah battery. I have yet to run out of power climbing some of the steepest hills in the San Francisco area. Yes, I did have to pedal. I ain’t no poser, I’m a rider, just trying to get my load around town in the most efficient, car-free way possible. The Yuba Mundo does the trick.

Keep reading

To see our full review, check out Bicycle Times issue #15, which goes on sale January 31.
 

 

 

 


Review: Breezer Uptown Infinity

By Maurice Tierney

Bicycle Times is an “enthusiast” publication, but part of our mission is to bring bikes to the general public, people who just want to get from point A to point B with as little fuss as possible, saving gas and living a sustainable, healthy life.

So maybe a bike should be like a toaster. With a toaster, you push down the lever and it cooks. With the Breezer Uptown Infinity, you push the pedals and it goes, and that’s about a simple as a ride can be.

The NuVinci continuously variable planetary (CVP) transmission is the starting point. Upon first grab of the handlebar-mounted twist-shifter, you notice the lack of confusing clicks. Simply twist toward you for higher gearing and twist away from you for lower.

The illustrative terrain graphic built into the shifter tells you where you are in the gear range—the “hill” gets steeper as the gearing gets lower. Everything about this bike makes it ultra-easy to live with. The chain is completely enclosed, keeping the lube on the chain and dirt off your clothing. And every toaster bike should have front and rear lighting, don’t you think? The Uptown has you covered with a Shimano power-generating front dynamo hub and very bright Busch & Muller lights front and rear. You’ll never have to think about getting caught in the dark when you leave the house. You’ll be getting your green on by not shopping at the battery store, either.

Nor will you have to think about the weather, with full fenders covering the wheels to keep you dry. Other daily needs are taken care of as well, with a springloaded rack to accept the panniers of your choice, strong brakes, and ergonomic handlebar and grips. The wheels are burly 26-inchers for strength and the tires are 1.5”-wide WTB Freedoms that’ll give you freedom to hit a pothole with minimal repercussion. The seatpost is of the shock-absorbing variety.

For icing on the toast we have a built in ring lock that prevents the back wheel from rolling when engaged. It won’t stop someone from carrying your bike away, but it is a nice deterrent and good to have so that you, again, have less to think about. The kickstand and bell are included as well—two more must-have items!

The Experience

While the Uptown can also be had in the conventional “Boys” frame design, I opted for the “Girls” or step-through frame because sometimes I wear a skirt and other times I am just too lazy to lift my leg—more of what makes this the easiest-ever bike to ride. The saddle is wide and cushy (probably not good for extended touring or long distances), the grips are comfy, and the position is upright and comfortable.

Every time I pedal off, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy at the ease of riding and especially shifting the NuVinci hub. The lack of clicking, grinding or other sound is just great. Best of all, you can shift either while moving or while stopped at a traffic light, thus further reducing your brainwork.

With the Uptown it was always a pleasure not having to think about all the stuff that makes riding a bike difficult. No more money to be spent on accessories, no more time spent installing them. and no more packing up before heading out for rides. The Uptown infinity is a no-brainer for riding around town. But I did test the limits. For starters, there are limits to the rigidity of a single-tube, step-through design, and I tested these with some “aggressive” riding when throwing the Uptown hard into turns resulted in more frame wiggle than desired. My bad for choosing the step-through frame, which without the usual top tube, is missing some of the structural rigidity of a diamond frame.

I pushed the limits of the NuVinci hub as well. While all internally geared hubs have less efficiency than a traditional chain drive system (which is nearly 99% efficient), I did feel a very pronounced loss of energy when climbing hills in the lowest gear, especially with two panniers’ worth of groceries. NuVinci will tell you that this loss is made up for by the fact that the continuously engaged transmission is never in-between gears. But my ultimate realization is that this bike is really less suited for aggressive, enthusiast-style riding and a lot more relevant to making it easier for people to get on bikes, which it does so well.

Here’s to the day when bikes are as simple as toasters. Nice job, Breezer.

Tester stats

  • Age: 53
  • Height: 6’ 4”
  • Weight: 230lbs.
  • Inseam: 34”

Bike stats

  • Country of Origin: Taiwan
  • Price: $1,269
  • Weight: 36lbs.
  • Sizes Available: Standard: 17.5”, 19.5”, 21.5”, 23.5”; Low-Step: 15” 17”, 19”, 21” (Tested)
  • Online: www.breezerbikes.com

 


Felt shows of new “lifestyle” bikes

By Maurice Tierney

Felt Bicycles showed off their full line of bikes in Irvine, California, last week. Felt offers a huge variety of bikes here in the U.S. and even more in Europe. Road, cross, time trial, mountain, utility, urban, Felt has it all. Funny that the bikes that always catch this scribe’s eye are the “Tank” bikes. These are generally beach cruisers with giant top tubes that look like the pseudo “Gas Tanks” you used to see on newspaper-style bikes of old. But modern hydroforming techniques allow them to get the swoopy lines into a modern lightweight (relatively) aluminum alloy cruiser. Many of the designs are super-custom and with Felt-specific parts like their own 26×3” tires (on some models), Felt’s cruisers stand out. Ever see a New Belgium Brewery cruiser? That’s what I’m talking about.

Star of this presentation was the Carroll Shelby model. Featuring the same Wimbledon White and Guardsman Blue as the original 1965 Shelby GT500:

It’s got the proper logoage and Shelby signature too. It can be yours for $999.

But that’s a current model. Also on hand was a bare frame for the new 2012 style tank, as shown here by Felts marketing Ms. Eva:

Cool Huh? Now let’s get practical. Felt’s has some nice looking offerings in the utility/commuter game. The Verza City line comes in price points from $599 to $1,149 depending on spec, Verza City bikes balance the comfort of a comfort bike with the agility and efficiency of a road bike. Here’s the Verza City 2 with its aluminum frame, disk brakes, and 24-speed drivetrain. Fender and rack included for $749:

And while the Verza line is designed to be speedy and agile, the Café Line represents a more laid-back attitude. The head and seat angles are more laid back for more comfortable, easygoing handling, and so are the prices, at $499 to $649. Take your pick from 7, 3, 8 or 24 gears, in order of price. Here’s the Café 24, including shiny shiny fenders, nice!

 

I got to look at bikes; you get to look at pictures. Felt has a fixie for you if that’s how you wanna roll. Top ‘o the Felt fixie line is the Footprint. Sure wish I had a photo of that one, it’s a $1,599 carbon fiber fixed gear. Given Felt’s experience at the track, this could be good. But I am guessing the Brougham might be more your speed, it runs $549 and can also be had with a Sturmey archer 3-speed fixed hub for $699. Swell.

 

And last but not least I gotta show you the single-speed cross bike (Or maybe just Eva’s 2002 in the background, I am envious!). Here it is, the $1,299 Breed from Felt. Enjoy!

 

See more

Check out Felt’s 2012 mountain bike lineup over at our sister mag, Dirt Rag.

 

 


What the heck is a Toaster Bike?

By Maurice Tierney

Our mission as we have chosen to accept it is to get more people on bikes. Make it easy as pie to bring the bike into your everyday life. Wait, who said pie was easy? I mean the crust alone can be considered an art form. We need it to be easier than that. Like ahhh, mmm, hmmmm…. Toast! Easy as making toast. Yea, that’s the ticket! With toast you drop in the bread, push down the lever and you’re good to go. All you need to do is decide which direction to head. Butter? Marmalade? Why can’t bikes be that easy?

In my review in Bicycle Times #12, I call the Breezer Uptown Infinity a “Toaster Bike”. I say this because it is designed to make it as easy as possible to ride your bike for everyday purposes. Step onto bike, push pedal down and go! All you have to decide is where the bike will take you. The possibilities are endless!

Lights, fenders, a chain cover, rack, bell. Solid wheels, a comfy position, and of course the infinitly variable NuVinci transmission all together make the Breezer a Breeze!

What else do you need? The conversation could be endless as well, and I’d like to see it happen here on this web site after you read the review in the print magazine.

For example, I myself have been enjoying the benefits of an easy-to-ride infrastructure outside the door of our new west coast office where these photos were taken, Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco, California.

Fairly flat, bike Lanes, bicycle paths, bikes on busses, it is all-good. But let’s discuss. I know there’s a need for infrastructure to fill in the gaps, how do we get there?
 

 


Review: Dahon IOS P8

By Maurice Tierney

The Dahon IOS P8 might be considered the Cadillac of folding bikes with its 24” wheels. Folding almost as small as Dahon’s 20”-wheeled counterparts, the IOS has nearly everything one might ask for in a bike, plus the benefits of the fold.

I spent weeks riding the IOS all around the East Bay and San Francisco area, and not once did I long to be riding my regular bike. The big wheels roll nicely and don’t fall into potholes, the handling is normal, and I’ve even added a rack and panniers for load carrying.

A key reason I was so interested in trying a folder was the Bay Area’s public transportation system, BART, which does not allow bikes on board during certain hours, except folders. The IOS folds up in a few seconds as I transfer from street level to escalator to train platform. (Mind the gap.) Once on board, I don’t feel like quite the second-class citizen I would if I were pushing a full-sized bike, as they do tend to get in the way, especially during rush hour.

More like a full-sized bike than the usual folder, yes. But compared to my usual 700c/29er, it’s like riding a skateboard. Negotiating through tight spots, pedestrians and the like is easy and fun. Folded or not, it’s compact, easy to handle, and quick to accelerate. At 28lbs., the IOS is the heaviest of our three test bikes. It’s also quite a bit larger than the Brompton when folded. If I were carrying this bike to my desk each day, I might be inclined to go for a smaller, lighter option. The IOS is plenty small for me, and drops nicely into the trunk of the Toyota Camry, away from prying eyes. Note here that the pedals fold as well, although I switched them out for some spiky platform pedals because the folding pedals’ rubber surface was a little slippery for me.

The IOS comes in one size to fit most everyone. That means a pretty small cockpit for my 6’4” frame, but that’s OK because I am left nicely upright and able to enjoy my surroundings, rather than being all bent over in the usual aggressive riding position. The seatpost is mighty long, enough to accommodate riders from 5’2” to 6’4”, and the Andros stem has a quick-release mechanism that allows the handlebars to rotate from straight up to low and forward. I ran the stem up high and the seat as well, and found myself highly comfortable and upright, able to take in the sights around me.

The bike I rode was the IOS P8 retailing for $900. The “8” indicates a SRAM GripShift 8-speed external drivetrain. By the time you read this, the P8 may not be available. A P7 ($1,100) is available with a 7-speed internal hub for low-maintenance people. If you really want to get all Cadillac with your bad self, the IOS XL is available for $1,600, which includes a dynamo hub-powered, cell phone-charging light system, fenders, internal gearing and disc brakes, too! And it’s black. The new black.

On the accessory front, I’ve been able to try a few of Dahon’s extensive selection of useful things. The ArcLite rear rack allowed me to use my panniers. The Tour Bag with its removable shoulder strap mounted onto the head tube for smaller, man-purse-style travel. The PostPump, a full size pump, resides inside the seatpost for flat repair. Lights and fenders are available as well. A kickstand is standard equipment, a nice touch for a sweet ride.

Read more about folding bikes in our introduction.


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