Maybe you know the drill on folding bicycles, a.k.a. folders. Easy to store, easy to transport, and fun to ride! The perfect solution for the urban environment.
Folders come in many configurations, from tiny-wheeled singlespeeds to this one, perhaps the mother of all folders. The Tern Eclipse S18 is the zombie-apocalypse-surviving*, Swiss army knife of folders. It has everything you could want in an ultimate urban-assault vehicle. 18 speeds, fat tires on 24-inch wheels, disc brakes, racks, fenders and generator lighting. And to top it off a stealthy-yet-gorgeous neutral paint scheme.
This leaves very little to think about. I’m ready to go anywhere, with or without cargo, in the rain and/or dark of night. Heck, I could go on an extended tour on this if I wanted. Like Tern says, Zombie-ready.Tweet Print
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.
Photos by Maurice Tierney
The Meet Your Maker Tour is your invitation to ride alongside and hang out with some of Northern California’s best bicycle frame builders and component makers.Tweet Print
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!
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.
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.Tweet Print
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.Tweet Print
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!Tweet Print
By Maurice Tierney
The Boda Boda “Cargo Cruiser” is only the second bike from the Yuba braintrust, following the Mundo cargo bike released in 2006. Hard to imagine a bike company paying the bills with only one bike to sell, but Yuba has flourished with the singular purpose of the Mundo, which is carrying stuff affordably, comfortably, and efficiently.
I ride a Mundo, and it’s a great bike that can carry up to 440 lbs. of stuff, plus driver. Four bags of groceries? Two passengers? No problem. But It can be a bit much to handle sometimes. Stairs, small rooms, and public transportation all present challenges.
Enter the Boda Boda, which in simple terms might be described as half a Mundo. With its aluminum frame it’s half the weight (35 lbs.), half the payload capacity (220 lbs.), and twice as easy to maneuver. Surely not the same cargo bike.
On the contrary, maybe it’s not a cargo bike but a regular city/cruiser bike with some added room for stuff. It’s just a little bit longer than a regular bike, easy to maneuver onto bus racks and other public transportation, and its longness is perfect for a child seat or adult passenger, two full bags of groceries, or both.
There’s two models available; the step-through model comes in apple green or white and is more suitable to smaller riders (5’0″ to 5’7″) while the step-over model, which comes in green, is designed for humans from 5’7″ to 6’2″ and still easy to mount. Included are a Bamboo rear rack, cork grips, ding-a-ling bell, and kickstand. The spec is entry-level. At less than $1,000 it’s priced to get more people on it. The parts selection is perfectly functional without too many bells and whistles. A deluxe edition is soon to be, and it will up the ante with fenders and dynamo-powered lights front and rear.
The ride is cruiser-like and functional with an upright position; big, wide, comfortable handlebars; and good pedaling efficiency. An 8-speed SRAM derailleur provides enough gear choices for most conditions. A custom Yuba saddle is a nice touch, although female tester Poppy found it more comfortable than I.
I see the Boda Boda perfect for folks just getting into the idea of the utility cycling lifestyle. Imagine hauling your kid to school while getting a little exercise—sure beats sitting in a steel box with a brain-frying device to your ear. Kid hauling, grocery getting and such are all good times (assuming the infrastructure is good in your town). Parking lots at the grocery store become a joy instead of a nightmare as you roll right in and park by the door while the automobilians struggle. That’s the life!
This life is yours for the low low price of only $999! Step Right Up! Other accessories include the Peanut Shell child seat at $169, Baguette bags at $77 each, and a center stand (recommended) for $69.
But wait! There’s more! What are all those other accoutrements attached to the Boda Boda pictured here? Why it’s a battery and motor! Yes, you are looking at the electric version of the Boda Boda, priced at $2,697. Well, yes that’s quite a few more dollars, but those bucks might make the difference between embracing the lifestyle and staying in your car.
The electric assist Boda features a BionX motor system for pedal assist and battery regeneration. The BionX system is the real deal. After a long day it can really make a difference between riding or not if you’ve got a lot of hills in your way. The 350 watt motor is good for speeds up to the gubmint-regulated speed of 20mph. And the 9.6 amp hour battery is good for up to 37 miles, depending on terrain and load of course.
And it’s fast! I hit the turbo button on the trigger and hit the top speed of 20 in half a city block, about seven seconds. It’s also rad that the BionX has regenerative powers, such that you can set the bike to slow you down and recharge the battery at the same time. This is best on downhills, but the brake lever switch can be adjusted to regenerate the battery as you approach stop signs. I actually used the system for a few days without charging the battery. I’d set the BionX into re-gen mode, ride the Boda like a resistance trtainer, and then expel the power when I needed a kick. The BionX system adds 22.5lbs. to the total weight of the Boda Boda, bringing it to 57.5 lbs.
Allright, let’s wrap this up. The Boda Boda is a great way to expand the endless possibilites of cycling. Priced right, it’s a no-brainer for those looking to get deeper into the possibilities. The electric verision, while costing more money, breaks down even more walls to cycling nirvana.
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.
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…
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!Tweet Print