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?
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.
The San Francisco Bike Expo is a consumer bike show with fun, cool events, and bicycle companies in attendance. Bicyle Times will have a booth, so be sure to stop by and say hello. Keep reading to get a better idea of what to expect:
Don’t you know?
It’s the place to go
Where a bike show will explode
Near the San Francisco Bay if I may be so bold
Called the SF Bike Expo
In November it’s summer
It will not be a bummer
It takes place on the 6th
And will be really sick!
(That’s HELLA sick, in Bay-speak)
Cyclists of all styles
Will come for a while
Check out the fashion show
Or the cross race to go
Ride in off the street
It cannot be beat
All the bike peeps will come
You’ll surely have fun!
There will be stunting as well
And lowriders from hell
How about you?
A palace of Cow
Becomes a palace of wow!
(What’s a Cow Palace anyway?)
The Bicycle Times booth
Will feed your sweet tooth
It’s not just a swap
You might blow your top
Try to remain calm At sfbikeexpo.com
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 7000 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 $19-3600.
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…
* (From Wikipedia) The system replaces the separate springs and dampers of a conventional suspension system with integrated, space efficient, fluid filled, displacer units, which are interconnected between the front and rear wheels on each side of the vehicle. Each displacer unit contains a rubber spring, and damping is achieved by the displaced fluid passing through rubber valves. The displaced fluid passes to the displacer of the paired wheel, thus providing a dynamic interaction between front and rear wheels. When a front wheel encounters a bump fluid is transferred to the corresponding rear displacer then lowers the rear wheel, hence lifting the rear, minimising pitch associated with the bump. Naturally the reverse occurs when it is a rear wheel that encounters a bump. This effect is particularly good on small cars as small wheelbase vehicles are more affected by pitching than long wheelbase vehicles.Tweet
Sometimes you just wanna tell people about something good without getting into a full review-test-deadline-drama scenario. I have been running Ergons GP1 grips on one of my mountain bikes, on a bike here and there, but I have not gone to the trouble of putting them on all my bikes for whatever reason. But when I reunited with my Karate Monkey after leaving it in the East Bay area, it had some new Ergons on it. I was immediately pleased and thankful for this. Not only do my hands feel comfy upon first grasp, but they feel great all day.
These Ergon GX1 Leichtbau grips are designed for XC racing. They are some of the lightest grips Ergon has to offer, as well as having a more compact body, a smaller wing, and a narrower diameter. I like ‘em cuz my hands are prone to numbness and/or pain when riding long distances.Tweet
After my tour of the Brooks saddle factory I was fortunate enough to get tours of two more factories in England. Pashley and Moulton are two of the three places in England where bicycles are actually made, the other being Brompton. Through my connections at Brooks, I was guided on to Pashley and Moulton the following day (Sorry Brompton). Let’s check out Pashley…
Pashley’s have been made in Britain since 1926 under the moniker ” Manufacturers of every type of bicycle” so there’s lots of history, including high-volume contracts with the Royal Mail and other large companies to provide cargo and other business-capable bikes. With only 1% of the bikes sold in England being made in England, ya just have to respect and honor what’s going on here. About 8000 bikes per year come out of here, with 150 models to choose from. Here’s a mail bike, I need one of these…
Raw materials in one end, bikes out the other. One such material is these brass brazing rods.
Here’s another ingredient, lugs!
The lugs and tubes are tacked together with rivets, held in a frame jig, and then the brass is melted into the joints to bond the tubes together…
Once the frame is assembled it is put into high heat…
And then aligned to perfection…
Then bead-blasted for cleanliness…
And then powder coated. Note that these fenders are sourced locally as is every component that can be is…
Here are some powdered frames…
The assembly department…
And a completed bike, almost ready to go!
Pashley has been doing well in recent times, as ardent cyclists are much more interested in beautiful, classically styled machines like these. And with the movement toward sustainable, locally produced products that support a local economy on the rise, Pashley is one company that gets it. Materials, parts and components produced in England are sought out first. If that is not possible they look to Europe, and then to English companies producing overseas, (Sturmey Archer hubs, for example). By the way, it’s not all about the cargo bikes above. The Guv’nor below was spotted on the Brooks picnic ride, and features brass plated lugs, a Sachs Duomatic rear hub and Speed Drive front chain wheel for four-speed action! And it is a true beauty as well…
Well folks, that’s all I got for now. Next stop, Moulton.Tweet
When this press trip came up at the office I shoved all the other staffers aside and politely volunteered myself for duty. I had never been to England, so to get a taste of British culture through a Brooks Saddle factory tour and picnic ride was going to require expertise only and old codger like myself could handle. Click here to read more.Tweet
Spinning in Seattle: I Could Live Here
We launched Bicycle Times a year ago at the Seattle Bicycle Show, amid some really crappy Seattle weather. Standing on a wet floor in a leaky circus tent somewhere in Magnuson Park, we greeted the hordes of dedicated cyclists pouring in with fresh copies of our very first issue. Eyeing the preponderance of yellow-jacket-wearing, pannier-hauling, mirror-sporting cyclists, we new we were in the right place to reach the legions of real-world bike life. And everyone else was there too!
That was then, this is now.
This year we’re in a seemingly-new cruise terminal on Pier 91. There’s carpet on the floor, luxurious lighting, and a fantastic view of the Olympic range right outside the large windows. Things are smooth, as Robert and the Two Fish family have driven the booth up from SFO, I’ve flown in after the Bike Summit in DC, and we’ve just ridden our bikes from the hotel, over a giant hill with a mondo view of the Seattle skyline and 14,411 foot Mount Rainier. Life is good.
But let’s get to work. We’re here to promote our magazines. Let’s grab a stack and shove them into people’s faces. Make sure they have seen them and have had a chance to like them (or not). “Dirt or off dirt?” That is the question as we offer each attendee their choice of Bicycle Times or Dirt Rag. We’re happy to meet all kinds of cyclists. Some have known Dirt Rag for years and others are just getting their indoctrination papers for the first time. It’s all good.
And when we lure them into the booth for the subscription offer, it gets better. We’ve got Melissa Bearns from Klean Kanteen in our corner today, and she’s brought along the spinny-wheel.
Melissa is a pro. A sales pro. She walks into the booth, says hi, grabs a stack of magazines, and she’s off to the races, hawking “Subscribe and spin! Yea, come on in!” Spin the wheel and you could win one of these fine prizes from Klean Kanteen, Dirt Rag, or Bicycle Times!
Got to meet up with Erik “Sure King” Zo, a man with a brain bursting at the seams with bike knowledge.
Always a pleasure. Zo was part of the classic lightweight bike display at the Seattle show, a huge collection of old bikes, and featuring a bunch of Jack Taylors, and a visit from Ken Taylor, a man with a few more years of bike knowledge. Man I need to find some photos of this shit. All I got was this head tube from a 1939 Caminargent…
Then there’s the World Champion Artistic Cyclists from Germany! Corrina Hein, Stefan Musu and Lukas Matla were another amazing attraction. Awe-inspiring! There are some videos here… http://kunstrad.fernradweh.de/media/videos/ And I took a few stills myself…
Lobbying at all, especially at the highest level of American government, is not something I ever thought I’d be involved in. But after 20 years in the bike “business” (and I use that term loosely) it becomes clear that there’s more to it than just slaving away and hoping you make a profit.
The daily news can really piss one off can’t it? You feel pretty helpless sometimes when things are going to hell. The past eight years have been especially frustrating for this commentator.
Fortunately, bicycles offer solutions to many of the world’s problems, and that’s why I find myself standing tall walking the halls of congress to push bicycle-related legislation.
It’s all centered on the “Ask”, where you ask your legislator to promote a specific agenda. Like the Complete Streets agenda, whereby pedestrians and cyclists transportation needs must be considered in the construction and repair of roads.
Or Safe Routes to Schools, a sure cure for child obesity. Plus Mom can keep the suv in the garage.
Or CLEAN-TEA. In a nut, the transportation budget. We’d like to see more than one or two percent spent on infrastructure that’s really green. Bicycle green.
So here’s how it goes. What we do is hike around to the different senatorial and congressional office buildings circling Capitol Hill, in hopes of gaining face time with anyone representing our individual districts or senate seats. Our Pennsylvania delegation is 20 strong for the senatorial meetings, but at the district meetings, it’s just me and the local cycling advocacy group, Bike Pittsburgh.
Yes, these meetings are rarely with the actual congressperson or senator. Their staffer’s job is to listen to what you ask for, nod their head, and agree to take your message to the representative. Much of the time these peeps are just talking heads that could care less about bikes, but at least it’s encouraging to have them listen to us.
But our meeting with the staffer at Kathy Dahlkemper’s office was another story. Phil English was given the boot last November and we could not be happier that he’s been replaced by a Democratic woman. But get this, the dude we’re talking to is a rabid mountain biker, and we get to spend like 20 minutes just talking about bikes! Needless to say we felt our voice was really being heard in this office.
And thus ends a great day on Capitol Hill.Tweet
I’m going, my third year and I’m excited to be putting bikes up front in the national conscieousness (sp?) some more. Anyone else?
Bicycle lighting has really come a long way in the last 20 years, with the advent of 24-hour mountain bike racing pushing the technological envelope into everyday cycling. U.S.E.’s lineup of Exposure lights typify this evolution.
CFD is the acronym used in the marketing materials—that’s Cable Free Design, compact CNC aluminum packages containing the latest LED bulb and li-Ion battery technology with no wires to cause grief. These attributes are present over their whole line of lights, from the single-LED Joystick to the 2, 3, and 4-LED models. The Joystick has a claimed 240 lumens in a svelte 76g laser-engraved package. I found it a real treat for a pretty wide range of rides.
A single lit push-button on the rear of the light controls everything. While charging, the button flashes. When turned on, it glows green, yellow or red to indicate one of the three power levels. After you’re done selecting the power level it then shows the available charge as the battery drains. All Exposure lights claim a 3-hour run time at maximum brightness, 10 hours at the medium “Ride” setting, and 24 hours at low. I tested its run time by turning it to high and letting it rip. It was still burning after four hours.
I first used the Joystick for some commuting. With its tiny size I was expecting it to work as a typical commuter light: be seen, but not much else. After a whim, I turned my commuter bike into the woods and was pleasantly surprised to have the Joystick guiding me down a rather dark trail. I found the beam pattern impressively bright in the middle and tapering off evenly to the sides. This is accomplished with the use of collimated lenses specifically designed for this purpose.
The Joystick can be mounted to the handlebar with a simple zip-tie-style clamp, but the helmet mount is much slicker. This mount consists of two disks that screw together, one on the inside of the helmet, poking through a vent, and one on the outside, with an articulating knuckle on top for directional adjustment. With this mount I didn’t have to turn my head a lot to see where I was going.
Exposure lights are available in the United States exclusively through Ibex Sports in Rollinsford, NH. The two-year comprehensive warranty, which even covers batteries, is serviced through this U.S. office. LED’s are covered for life.
Price-wise, at $199, the Joystick is way up there. But it’s a highly versatile tool that can take you to a lot of places in well-lit style. www.exposurelightsusa.comTweet
Welcome to Bicycle Times, the new media venture from us folks at Dirt Rag. While we’re all mountain bikers at heart, our passion extends beyond the trail. There’s a whole world of cycling out there, as we’ve covered in Dirt Rag over the years.
But Bicycle Times will give us space to cover the larger world of cycling, while letting Dirt Rag better focus on the dirt side of things. This idea came out of our growing belief that bicycles are the best invention ever created. Bicycles have this innate power to improve the lives of those who ride them, and their world around them. It is our mission to perpetrate these ideals.
Bicycle Times will be about fun. Riding a bike is fun. It was fun when you grew up. Now it’s even more fun, and practical too. You do it for many reasons, but you do it your whole life, and there are tons of niches to interest yourself in along the way.
There’s riding to be done every day. Commuting, exploring, touring, transporting, racing or just riding along. There’s city rides to be done, and country rides too. And it’s all fun. This will all be presented with an informative, no attitude style, on the web and in the quarterly print magazine.
Everyday is an adventure, especially when you saddle up and ride!
[Ed Note: Bicycle Times Magazine is looking for news for both the print magazine and the website. Send press releases, links, and anything you might deem important to this email for consideration.]Tweet