The latest round of Blue (bikes) vs. (seeing) Red came last week when Wall Street Journal editoral board member Dorothy Rabinowitz cited the "all-powerful bike lobby" and a government "before which you are helpless" as simply the worst thing that has ever happened ever.
Naturally the video went viral. Jon Steward picked it up on the Daily Show with a segment "Full Pedal Racket."
And Rabinowitz responded to the "hysteria" with a second video, claiming that the city’s police are unable to respond to the “torrent of complains and helpless screams,” and that city leaders are “terrorized by this thing that really exists, the bike lobby.”
Are you a member of the Bike Lobby? Where do I sign up?
Looks like Politico has taken a crack at investigating this so-called bike lobby. "All-powerful the bike lobby is not. Cars — and the infrastructure needed to accommodate them — still receive the overwhelming percentage of federal, state and local transportation dollars. But a scrappy band of bicycle manufacturers, smart-growth advocates and cycling nonprofits is increasingly fighting — and winning — battles at all levels of government."Tweet
Editor’s note: This story is a cross-post from our sister magazine, Dirt Rag. This weekend riders from across the country will converge on the Flint Hills of Kansas to tackle the Dirty Kanza 200, one of the premiere events in the burgeoning gravel racing scene.
By Mike Cushionbury
Gravel road racing is filled with innovations and inventions. Bikes range from road to cyclocross to full-on Frankenbikes cobbled together from a mix of road, cross, touring and mountain bike parts. As a mountain bike racer and first-time DK200 competitor I momentarily considered setting up my 29er cross-country race bike for the task late last year but further consideration led me towards my cyclocross bike—namely a 2013 Cannondale SuperX Disc—with the goal of keeping it as simple and familiar as possible.
I knew for sure a Frankenbike was not the answer. I didn’t want to gamble with a cumbersome bike I wasn’t used to. I also wanted something I could consistently train on, making sure my position was completely dialed. In February, after ‘cross season, I set up my SuperX with the exact same measurements as my road bike, a professionally fitted position I’ve had for as long as I can remember. My saddle height, reach and stem length are all exactly the same on both bikes.
I also chose the same model Fizik Areone saddle (that’s well broken in by now) and same crank arm lengths (being a mountain biker I use long-ish 175mm on the road for consistency.) Once everything was set I put road tires on and used this rig as my road bike, compiling as many miles as I could to make sure the bike and my position was deeply burned into my muscle memory and as comfortable as possible.
The SuperX’s carbon frame is lighter than many road bike frames and with SAVE seat and chain stays it’s compliant and forgiving over rough terrain. It is truly an elite level ‘cross bike that performs like a refined road bike with snappy acceleration and geometry suited to longer road races opposed to crit-style racing—just the ticket for DK. Front and rear disc brakes insure precise stopping will never be an issue.
Nothing too radical for parts save for some drivetrain adjustments. I choose a short reach Ritchey WCS Curve carbon fiber handlebar and WCS 4-Axis stem for ultra lightweight and reliability. I also went with a bump absorbing Ritchey WCS Carbon Flexlogic Link seatpost. The post’s carbon layup provides a claimed 15-percent increase in vertical compliancy compared to standard posts without giving up any lateral or torsional stiffness. For a little extra comfort I double wrapped the top of the bars since this is where I will mostly be, not down in the drops.
Shifters and front derailleur are standard SRAM Force. For the road I used a Force rear derailleur, SRAM Red 11/26 cassette and Cannondale Si 53/39 crankset. Because 200 miles is, well, 200 miles, I wanted extra low gearing for the later hours of the race. I switched out the rear derailleur for a SRAM XX mountain unit and matched that to an XX 11/32 cassette. I also geared down the front with an FSA K-Force compact crank and 50/34-chainring combo.
This is a set-up I successfully used at last year’s Iron Cross race so I’m already comfortable with it. I’ll be using Shimano XTR Race pedals and mountain bike shoes because I believe top-level mountain bike shoes, though they do have very stiff carbon soles, vibrate less over such harsh roads. Super stiff road shoes could lead to early foot numbness and fatigue.
Wheels and tires
Wheel selection was simple; I’m using the same NoTubes Alpha 340 Team road wheelset I’ve been on all winter—simple, light and ultra reliable. Initially I was going to use a NoTubes ZTR Crest mountain bike wheelset to widen the tire’s contact patch but tire installation proved difficult due to the increased rim width (something I didn’t want to deal with in Kansas.)
My tire choice was simple as well: Challenge Almanzo’s. These super-durable, 360-gram, 700x30mm tires are specifically designed for gravel road racing. They roll very fast and utilize a special Puncture Protection System belt between the casing and belt—perfect for the spiky rocks on the roads around the Flint Hills.
Since I’m not much of a water pack wearer, I plan on going with two bottles on the bike and one in my pocket—three bottles per 50 miles to each checkpoint where I’ll have a drop bag loaded with supplies including real food like sardines, pepperoni sandwiches, black licorice and of course drink mix and bottles. If I stay on point of not using a water pack I’ll add a large seat bag with three tubes, a multi tool with a chain breaker, two quick links, a few links of chain, electrical tape and a tire boot. I also have a Lezyne mini-pump secured to the bike. As a precaution, I’ll have a full water pack in my drop bag at the midpoint checkpoint.
Veterans of the race may think I’m gambling by going minimalist but when I built up my bike for this mammoth event I went with what I know and am comfortable with. It’s a roll of the dice I’m willing to take.
Dirty Kanza is Saturday, June 1 in the Flint Hills region of east-central Kansas. Go to dirtykanza200.com for more info.
New York City’s long-awaited bike share program, CitiBike, took to the streets over the weekend and is now officially up and running. The largest bike share system in the U.S., CitiBike says riders clocked more than 13,000 miles in the first day.
The most popular starting stations were:
- E 17 St & Broadway: 113
- Broadway & W 57: 109
- Broadway & E 14 St: 98
And the most popular ending stations were:
- E 17 St & Broadway: 108
- Broadway & W 57: 103
- University Pl & E 14 St: 78
Also on Monday, 772 riders signed up for annual memberships, bringing the total to more than 16,000.
The launch has generated a TON of press, and as you can imagine, there were some hiccups. The New York Post reported that one of the bikes was stolen just as it was being unloaded and installed. Some members had trouble picking up their keys and countless people have made their displeasure heard about the locations of the bike racks.
The Village Voice took a sunnier outlook with a headline “CitiBike Happened Yesterday—and the World Did Not End.” Also worth noting, Gothamist has a roundup of some ways to fight germs from the bikes, since who knows what the person using it before you was doing.
Finally, the CitiBike program graced the cover of the June 3, issue of the New Yorker. “I’ve only been doored twice,” artist Marcellus Hall told the New Yorker. “I’m not one of those hard-core bike freaks; it’s just a good way for me to get around in the city.”
Are you in New York? Have you used the new CitiBike program? What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.
By Adam Newman
Jeff Jones isn’t afraid to think outside the box. In fact, it’s safe to say he probably isn’t concerned about the box at all. He has been designing and building his own unique brand of non-suspended mountain bikes that have made the pages (and pixels) of our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, for years.
In recent years, Jones has brought a production version of his bike to market and after we reviewed it as a mountain bike, he pointed out that it is just as versatile on the road as on the trail. Since a couple of the staff use 29er mountain bikes with slick tires as all-purpose commuters and touring bikes, the idea struck a chord.
The $850 Jones diamond frame and fork feature everything a touring cyclist could need: rack and fender mounts; room for fat, comfy tires; three water bottle cage mounts; a shorter effective top tube and high, comfortable handlebars. Those handlebars are another of Jones’ original creations, a loop shape that puts your hands at a relaxed 45 degrees and creates a platform for carrying gear.
One of the key elements of what makes the bike unique in mountain bike mode is the ability to use a 29er front wheel or a 26×4.8 fat bike front wheel. As such, the fork is a specially designed unit that uses a 135mm fat bike front hub. When laced to a 29er/700c rim, it creates an especially strong front wheel that tracks straight, even when loaded. The rims are Velocity’s Blunt 35 that measure a huge 35mm wide and give the 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple balloon tires even more cushion. Propulsion is provided by a Shimano 2×10 XT group that is geared low enough for even the steepest hills.
I packed up the panniers and the specially-designed frame bag that Jones sent us to try and had a great weekend riding and camping along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. While I wasn’t setting any speed records, the big tires and relaxed fit kept me cruising in comfort.
We’ll be putting the Jones through its paces all summer as we explore the countryside. One thing we’ll be paying close attention to is how the Jones fits a variety of riders, as it is only available in one size. The setup you see here is for my 6-foot-2 self.
Watch for it to make more appearances on bicycletimesmag.com and for a long-term review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe now and you’ll never miss an issue!Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Quite a long name, eh? But it tells you what you’re getting, pretty much.
This was to be the bike for my second annual trip to and/or from the National Bike Summit, along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal trails, back in March. Alas, it was not to be. We got extremely lucky with the weather last year, but this year we got cold temps and snow before the Bike Summit, and yet more snow—heavy, wet snow, and lots of it—afterward. Bummer. Still, I’ve been having a good time on this bike just doing my normal commute plus some extra-curricular riding around.
It’s nice to see that a big company like Specialized has not totally abandoned steel as a frame material, especially for an all-rounder bike like this. Some of the other current TriCross models, as well as past versions, rely on Zertz vibration-damping inserts at key points to soften the ride of their aluminum frames. But to me, and a lot of other classic aficionados (or retro-grouches, if you prefer), steel makes sense for smoothing out the ride, in a refined and comprehensive way.
Indeed, this bike is smooth and unflappable. As you can tell from the dust and splashes in the photos, I’ve been riding it in some dirt and gravel. The Body Geometry bar tape with gel padding helps keep that smooth feeling without being too fat. I dig the integrated bell on the top brake lever. I also dig the no-nonsense graphics — the bike looks sleek and serious.
It’s been a while since I rode a bike with a triple crank, mountain or road. I had to really concentrate not to end up in the big/big gear combo. Funny how quickly we forget… But the granny ring has come in handy for traversing my local park via singletrack trails as well as the wider gravel paths.
The bike’s Avid BB5 brakes were doing a weird pulsing thing for a while. It almost felt as though the rotors were of uneven thickness, or as though I’d gotten a wad of gum stuck to one. But the pads looked fine, and so did the rotors — I went so far as to measure them with calipers. (Any excuse to get out the more esoteric tools!) After consulting with Specialized and with Avid, I’m gonna chalk it up to contamination of some sort. I swapped pads and rotors and have had no trouble since.
It looks like I’m going to go on a long ride with this bike after all, at least for a day—from our HQ in Pittsburgh to Raystown Lake for the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest, 130 miles. This is the kind of bike that encourages such impromptu adventures.
Check out the full review coming up in issue #23.Tweet
By Adam Newman
Trek’s pedigree of high quality road bikes was firmly established years ago under the effort of a certain now-disgraced cyclist with the Madone platform. But as with most of aspects of cycling technology, the one-road-bike-to-suit-all model has been tossed aside in favor of machines that specialize in their respective disciplines. Some bikes put a priority on feathery weight, or all-out stiffness. Others borrow designs from time trial bikes to cheat the wind. Some, like the Domane, put rider comfort out front. After all, a comfortable rider is a fast rider.
When creating the Domane, Trek sought out the expertise of one of the most powerful riders of this generation, Fabian Cancellara. The winner of Tour de France stages, World Time Trial Championships, and handfuls of single-day Classics races. Cancellara is something of a freight train in the pro peloton—a big rider with an even bigger motor—and he excels when the conditions are difficult. The Domane is designed to give the rider a distinct advantage under those difficult conditions.
The most crucial piece of this carbon-fiber puzzle is the IsoSpeed “de-coupler” between the top tube and the seat tube. The two tubes are joined by a small bearing that allows the seat post to flex fore and aft to smooth out the ride. Make no mistake—this is no suspension system but it does do a marvelous job of isolating large hits and high-frequency vibrations. This video demonstrates how it works:
The rest of the carbon fiber frame abounds with high-tech features like the integrated DuoTrap computer sensor attachment point, the integrated chain keeper, a massive BB90 bottom bracket shell, and a tapered head and steerer tube that is wider than it is deep, front to back, for a more compliant ride. My favorite feature though is the amount of tire clearance and the hidden, removable fender mounts. Three cheers for a dry behind.
The $2,730 Domane 4.5 model I’m riding differs from the more expensive models with a standard, round, 27.2mm seatpost rather than Trek’s integrated seatmast, external cable routing rather than internal. I actually prefer both these features as they keep things simple and don’t seem to hinder performance very little.
So how does the IsoSpeed system work? In my first few rides I’d say seamlessly and flawlessly. I can’t feel it actively working, but when I hit a pothole or railroad crossing my behind stays planted in the saddle rather than being bounced off. That contact is what allows the rider to stay on the gas over irregularities, and I can say this comfortable rider certainly feels faster.
Want to read the full review? You’ll have to watch for it in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe today and never miss an issue.Tweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
I’ve been a Soma Fabrications owner for a few years—I have a Double Cross DC that has thousands of commuting miles on it—so I was eager to ride something new from a company that specializes in versatile, tough, and long-lasting frames and accessories.
This bike is Soma’s love child with Rivendell, meaning it was designed for Soma as a “sport touring bike” by Rivendell’s Grant Petersen, using Rivendell lugs, geometry, and design details. The San Marcos is “the bike any road rider who doesn’t race but rides mainly on the road ought to be riding,” according to Petersen.
So what are these design details? Well, it’s mainly about handlebar height and retro geometry to increase comfort. The concept is simple and time-tested: raise the handlebars to get weight off your hands, crane your neck less, and relieve stress on your lower back. The San Marcos’ top tube slopes up about 6o, raising the stem’s exit point from the head tube. The bike’s 1-inch threaded fork uses a quill stem that you can easily raise or lower to get the perfect height.
In addition to this main point of Rivendell geometry, you also get some bonuses to versatility that are on par with other Soma models. On the functional side, the bike will accommodate up to a 37mm-wide tire, or 32mm with fenders. The frame sports a pump peg on the head tube and two sets of water-bottle bosses. There are two sets of eyelets in the back for a rack and fenders, but only one set on the fork, meaning no front rack. Soma says light loads are fine, but this isn’t meant as a heavy touring bike.
The San Marcos uses the same steel lugs, bottom bracket shell, and fork crown that other Rivendell bikes do. The frame is made of high-quality Tange Prestige heat-treated, chromoly steel tubes, same as other Soma bikes. What you don’t get are the even higher-end steel and the fancier two-tone paint job of more expensive Rivendell bikes.
The two largest sizes have a double top tube. Since Petersen prefers the classic look of small-diameter tubes and lugs, an extra top tube was added on the 59cm and 63cm frames to maintain the same level of triangulation and stiffness as the smaller sizes, especially in the front end. This design has become one of his trademarks.
I believe bikes have personalities and those personalities are part of the buying decision. Jim Porter of Merry Sales (Soma’s distributor) says their relationship with Rivendell is like the relationship of Elvis to blues or gospel music. Taking his analogy further: if Rivendell is gospel, then Soma is Elvis being played in an old Cadillac.
The San Marcos gets you where you want to go in comfort and style, but it’s not going to be the most racy thing to ride. My test bike was built with 32mm-wide tires and had an incredibly smooth ride, but no tail fins (they aren’t very functional). Rough roads and smooth gravel were less of an issue for sure, as long as you’re not in a hurry.
Riding tall with those high handlebars meant the compact drops are probably at the height of most riders’ brake hoods. This provided several comfortable hand positions. The frame is both tall (in the top tube) and low (in the bottom bracket), which helped make for a very stable ride that carved turns gracefully.
The extra tube certainly seemed to help with front-end stiffness, as intended. I’m not that light, or that slow, but I never detected any lateral flex standing on steep climbs, or front shimmying on fast descents. For those of us used to more modern geometry, the extra top tube looks like overkill. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on a bike intended for heavy touring. But it’s actually a retro solution to preserve frame integrity.
The San Marcos is definitely a comfort road bike that many people could get into as a versatile commuter, or a bike able to cart a light load, or just for getting out on long rides. In terms of goals and execution, I think Soma Fabrications has a winner. The San Marcos looks good and does everything it was meant to. It’s comfortable and versatile, but an inexpensive Rivendell is an expensive Soma. If you’re down with the retro styling and geometry, I’m certain this would provide years of comfortable service and enjoyment.
Price: $900 (frame)
Weight: 25lbs. as built
Sizes available: 47, 51, 54, 59, 63cm (tested)Tweet
By Matt Kasprzyk
My commute by bike isn’t too difficult. There aren’t many hills (unless I want there to be), but the route takes me over several surfaces–asphalt, cement, crushed limestone, and a gravel access road. The different surfaces makes finding an appropriate bike challenging. Half of the route is on the road. The rest of my commute is on varying types of rougher surfaces, so I need something that’s as effective on the road as it is on the trail.
Bikes like this Quick CX line from Cannondale might be the right tool for the job. “On-road efficiency meets off-road ruggedness,” says Cannondale. Well it certainly has a suspension fork, disc brakes, and knobbier tires.
I guess that means it’s more rugged than your average commuter.
Efficient, though? The fork has a useful lock out, but the stock tires don’t feel very efficient on the street. It has a tall and short geometry. The toptube is relatively short with a fairly high standover. There is a more upright riding position because of the short toptube, but after adjusting the height of the stem and bars I’ve found a very comfortable riding position.
The frame has all the mounts and eyelets that you’d find useful if you’re considering the Quick CX as your all-season commuter. I’m going to eventually replace Kenda Happy Medium tires with a puncture resistant touring tire. I hope that might quicken the ride on pavement. Aside from that, I don’t see much to change about the bike and plan to put several miles of rough commuting on it before my final judgement.
Keep an eye out in a future issue of Bicycle Times for the complete review, and order a subscription today to make sure you don’t miss it.
By Shannon Mominee
A lot of people immediately associate Norco with gravity and mountain bikes, I know I did until the Indie Drop 1 showed up at the Bicycle Times headquarters. Truth is, Norco has many bicycles designed specifically for commuting and street use.
Double-butted, 4130 chromoly is used for the frame and straight bladed chromoly fork. There are braze-ons for front and rear racks, full coverage fenders, and two bottle cages. Pretty much all you need to accessorize the bike for commuting and errand running.
Reflecting its intended urban use, the parts package consists of Shimano 105 derailleurs and shifters , with less expensive Shimano components filling in the remainder of the 2×10 drivetrain. The wheels are Shimano hubs laced to deep-V WTB Freedom Cruz rims. A set of Hayes CX-5 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors scrub speed, and though they are a little squeaky up front they have a great amount of stopping power that’s easy to modulate without skidding.
With full coverage fenders a 28c or maybe a 32c tire will fit into the frame, depending on the tire’s height. Without fenders a 35c tire can be used.
The Indie Drop 1 is one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve thrown a leg over. A quick stem swap and everything else lined up perfectly. My size 57cm tester has a 72.5-degree head tube angle that keeps steering at a predictable pace, yet quick enough to maneuver around road debris without being race bike twitchy.
Look for a full review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times.
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
By Adam Newman
The African continent’s first professional UCI Continental team is off to a fast start, but its success will do more than just sell bikes, it is providing them to rural Africans as a way to get to school, visit a doctor, get clean water, or start a business.
The MTN-Qhubeka team (“qhubeka” is a Nguni word meaning “to progress”) has progressed straight to the podium after receiving a wildcard entry to the nearly 300-mile Milan-San Remo race in Italy and then putting its sprinter Gerald Ciolek across the finish line first.
It was a day to be remembered not only for the win, but because Ciolek’s teammate Songezo Jim was the first black South African to start a WorldTour event and because the weather conditions were so severe the race organizers were forced to reroute the racers by bus around a snowed-in mountain pass.
But the real heroes are back in Africa, where rural South Africans received Buffalo Bicycles in exchange for planting 100 saplings for a reforestation project or for removing more than 2,500 lbs. of refuse from their village. The bicycle can increase the workload of a person more than five times, and they can travel 75 percent faster or further.
The Qhubeka project isn’t new, since 2004 this volunteer-based organization has partnered with World Bicycle Relief to donate more than 40,000 bikes. It is funded by bike sales, corporate donors, events, and consulting. Since the race team rides Trek bikes, each time a Trek customer chooses a bike with the Qhubeka paint scheme, Trek will donate $200 to the Qhubeka project. You can bet there will be a big increase in sales after Ciolek’s win.
The bikes in Africa, on the other hand, are specially designed to handle the rigors of rural life. They have heavy-guage steel frames; sturdy wheels and tires; a weatherproof coaster brake; and can carry more than 200 lbs. The parts are made in Asia, and the bikes are assembled in World Bicycle Relief facilities in Africa, by Africans.
Watch for more victories by Team MTN-Qhubeka and by the Qhubeka project in Africa.
The Shinola brand has been around since 1929, but when it was reincarnated in Detroit it didn’t have much in common with the shoe-polish company it once was and the colloquialism that bears its name.
Now it produces to key products: high-end watches, leather goods, and bicycles, both made right here in the U.S. of A. The watch factory occupies 30,000 square feet of the historic Argonaut building, the former home of the General Motors Research Laboratory. The bicycle frames are built in Wisconsin by Waterford and assembled in the same Detroit facility.
The two models, the Runwell and Bixby, were designed by industry veteran Sky Yeager, who has brought us some of the most popular models from Bianchi and later Swobo.
The Runwell is inspired by French Porteur bikes, blending style with practicality. The 11-speed Shimano Alfine drivetrain paired with disc brakes and internal cable routing makes it nearly maintenance-free.
The Bixby adds a bit of flair, with retro-cruiser looks and a curved top tube. It too has an internal-hube drivetrain, but in this case it’s a three-speed. It’s also available in a dropped top tube model.
For the upcoming Baselworld watch show in Switzerland next month, Shinola has created a one-of version of the Runwell that is brass plated. The frame, fork, fenders, and even the vintage lamp that hangs from the saddle have been given the treatment.
Bicycles and the leather goods are for sale now at Shinola.com. The watches are available for pre-order with expected delivery in July.Tweet
By Eric McKeegan
Thinking more about fast group rides, maybe a bit of racing, or even some light touring? Let’s take a look at the Secteur, which is the aluminum version of Specialized’s Paris Roubaix-winning (and creatively named) “Roubaix.”
Don’t let the race pedigree fool you—the Secteur is set up to be friendly for those of us without “Eye of the Tiger” playing on repeat in our heads. Designed to be comfortable and easy to ride, Specialized created a good old-fashioned all around road bike that isn’t at all old technology.
The frame is a modern hydroformed aluminum unit, the fork the now de rigueur carbon fiber. Both are equipped with Zertz inserts, a vibration-reducing elastomer in the fork legs and seat stays to help keep rough roads from ruining the ride. Its geometry numbers are more relaxed than Specialized’s more race-oriented frames, with a taller head- tube, longer chainstays, slacker head angle, and lower bottom bracket than the similarly priced but more racy Allez. What does that all mean for the ride? Read on, reader.
My first ride on the bike was a commute home, which starts with four miles of slight downhill. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a real skinny-tired road bike, and cranking out the miles in the big ring was a welcome change from my often slow slog home on various more practical bikes. This “fast” trend continued throughout the review period.
I mostly rode the Secteur for training for a mountain bike stage race, and it was outstanding in this regard. The ride is fast and efficient-feeling, but not so hard-edged that I avoided the rough roads I prefer. It was more nervous than I’d like on dirt roads, but everywhere else the bike was a fine balance of stability and responsiveness. The frame is stiffer than I’m used to, which led me to attack hills with more gusto than normal, but the Zertz are effective in taking the edge off rough roads, not quite as comfortable as some of the better steel frames I’ve ridden, but much, much better than most aluminum bikes.
I requested the model with a Shimano 105 compact double drivetrain, as I’ve found the gearing range to work well for my local terrain and reasonably fit self. Those looking to take advantage of the rear rack mounts, or who live in areas with sustained steep climbing, might be better off with the wide range SRAM Apex set-up or one of the triple-chainring options.
Three Specialized-branded components stood out enough to warrant mention. The Espoir Sport 25mm tires provided a smooth ride and great puncture resistance. No flats and little wear in a few thousand miles. The Comp handlebar has a great bend and was easy to set up. Finally, the Riva saddle was comfortable enough for a double century, but I’m sure the skinny 27.2mm seatpost helped here too; the bit of flex took the edge off.
The seatpost was a two-bolt set-up, making it easy to adjust the angle, but one of the bolts is only accessible through a hole in the saddle. Fortunately, the stock saddle is pretty swell, but installing a different non-holey saddle would make it very difficult to use the saddle clamp. No fender mounts meant fender options were limited, although a set of SKS Raceblade Long fenders (reviewed next issue) worked quite well. I figure if you are going to install rack mounts you might as well put fender mounts on there, too. I’d also love to be able to run 28mm tires and fenders; this only works with mid-reach road brakes, which this bike is not designed around. Specialized hinted that most of my concerns might cease to exist with expected changes for 2013 models.
When I was hanging the Secteur up in my basement recently, I had a vision of a kid finding it in 15 or 20 years, dusting it off, tuning it up, and failing in love with cycling. Specialized nailed it with this one— a fast, comfortable bike at an affordable price, with enough practicability to bring it out of the recreation-only range. Those with visions of long charity rides, Gran Fondos, and other fast rides will not be disappointed with the Secteur.
By Adam Newman
I rode and reviewed a Lynskey cyclcross bike last spring, and to this day it has been one of my favorite bikes I’ve tested for this magazine. So naturally I was intrigued when Lynskey, the largest manufacturer of titanium bikes in the US, announced a new lineup of road and mountain bikes that will hit a price point that is closer to most aluminum bikes.
Dubbed Silver Series, the line includes five models—three road bikes and two mountain bikes—made from 3/2.5 titanium in Lynskey’s shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with stock geometry. Frames will retail for $1,099 and complete road bikes for $2,199 with a Shimano 105 build and the mountain bikes for $2,499 for a Shimano XT build.
The Peloton is a road bike for general purpose riding, racing, and adventure. It has a slightly taller headtube and can accommodate a 28c tire.
The Breakaway is for the racers. It has a more aggressive geometry compared to the Peloton and is for riders to like to go full gas.
The Viale is for commuting, light touring, or all-day adventures. It can fit up to a 30c tire to tackle rough roads, using medium reach rim brakes, and comes with fender and rack eyelets.
The MT650 and MT29 are built around the two most popular wheel sizes for hardtail mountain bikes, 650b and 29-inch, respectively. Both have 9mm quick release dropouts, are disc-brake only, and are designed around 100-120mm suspension forks.
By doing all their own prototyping, welding, testing, re-testing, and manufacturing in-house, Lynskey says it is able to develop the material farther and faster. It also buys more titanium than anyone, reducing costs even further.
The difference between the new Silver Series bikes and Lynskey’s more expensive models is that Silver bikes use round, straight-gauge tubing that is not only easier to work with, but easier to finish. The more advanced tubing takes four times longer to miter and weld, Lynskey said, and three times longer to finish.
Lynskey says it hopes the new models will appeal to a broader customer base that is looking for American-made quality and an alternative to the “me too” quality of carbon bikes. They will begin shipping from Lynskey in mid-April and will be sold through dealers, distributors and consumer-direct.Tweet
Shimano never stops innovating, and even if you never need the top-of-the-line race performance parts it builds, the technology the company creates trickles down to other product levels. For 2013, look for even more cool stuff to be available at lower pricepoints.
Recreation level components
The PD-MT50 and PR-T420 add to Shimano’s well-received Click’R pedal family. The MT50 Click’R pedals, top, feature dual-sided entry and a large platform for sure footing even without clipping in. The T420, above, is a single-sided SPD equipped Click’R pedal with a platform pedal on the underside, perfect for commuters.
Entirely new for 2014 is Shimano’s new Claris road group. Placed between Sora and Tourney in Shimano’s hierarchy, Claris is aimed at entry-level cyclists. The new group includes options for Touring, Performance and Racing needs. Both flat bar and drop bar shifters and brake levers are available. Octalink cranks are available in 50-34 and 46- 34T compact rings as well as a 50-39-30T triple. Claris also has an eight speed 12-32T cassette for efficient climbing, whether paired with double or triple cranks.
With Tourney A070, Shimano brought the starting cost of a road group down while offering reliable, durable parts. For 2014, Tourney receives an additional 3×7 spec.
Shimano will introduce its first 700C disc brake capable wheel set, the WH-RX05, that is intended for casual/pavement riders. The wheel set features a 24mm tall rim, includes 135mm rear spacing and is 10-speed compatible.
Shimano’s new DH-S701 dynamo hub offers a lightweight option for commuters and touring cyclists seeking a disc brake, Center-lock hub. The new hub weighs 425g and has 40 percent lighter rotation than Shimano’s DH-3N80 dynamo hub. Alfine’s new FC-S501 crank has and updated design and is now offered with a 42T spec, adding to the 45T/39T spec that has been offered.
At the top of the line is the 11-speed Dura Ace 9000 group that requires a slightly wider freehub body than 10-speed systems.
To compliment Shimano’s already impressive 9000 series wheels offered in a tubular option (C75, C50, and C35), Shimano introduces its C24 carbon tubular wheelset. The Dura-Ace 9000 C24-TU wheelset is the lightest offering in the 11-speed lineup, pleasing climbing purists with its 1,100 gram target weight.
Shimano further fills out its 11-speed compatible wheel offerings with the new WH-RS81 series featuring Dura-Ace-level 50mm, 35mm and 24mm carbon/alloy rims. Additionally, new replacement price point wheels include the WH-RS31 30mm deep aluminum clincher wheel and the WH-RS11, a durable aluminum clincher wheel. All 11-speed wheels are reverse compatible with 8, 9, or 10 speed cassettes.
The 105 road group joins Dura-Ace and Ultegra with new carbon SPD-SL pedals, saving weight in the process.Tweet
By Karen Brooks,
New Builders’ Row along the wall of the NAHBS exhibition hall was home to some interesting work, from wacky to spectacular. Here are a couple bikes that did not look to be the work of beginners, from Harvey Cycle Works and Littleford Bicycles.
At the beginning of the row was this sturdy and serious-looking touring bike build by Jon Littleford.
It’s outfitted here with 26-inch wheels, the most convenient choice for international travel, but it can accept 700c wheels (and caliper brakes instead of the cantis shown here) as well.
The meticulous fillet brazing on the frame and matching racks showed through an interesting brown finish. It’s actually rust, says builder Jon Littleford, that’s been encouraged to form with a product called Rust Brown and a laborious-sounding process. The thin but pit-free layer of oxidation protects the metal from any further decay.
The shiny bits on the rack rails, and other wear areas, are stainless steel. The stainless logo on the top tube acts as a protector.
Because you can’t cross an ocean on the bike, the racks are easily removable and it has S&S couplers. No batteries needed, either, since it has Schmidt lighting. Littleford says he may take this Expedition Model prototype to Madagascar. It looks like it could take the abuse.
Littleford exhibited in the Austin NAHBS in 2011, but due to the somewhat arcane show regulations, he still only qualified for a “new builder” spot.
Harvey Cycle Works
Kevin Harvey’s screamin’ red beauty reminded me of a classic Ferrari.
It’s a thoroughbred randonneuring bike, with 650b wheels (and Gran Bois tires), integrated racks and Schmidt lighting, and a comfortable but aggressive cockpit. But a few modern parts make it faster: disc brakes plus Campagnolo drivetrain and shift/brake levers. Those brakes are the new HyRd mechanical/hydraulic ones from TRP—cables actuate the hydraulics contained in the caliper.
Yeah, the brakes are cool, but I was more enamored of the disc tabs:
Note that loooong point at the top, machined to match the curve of the fork. At the bottom is a dropout that Kevin Harvey machines himself, with integrated washers to work with the Schmidt connector-less front hub, and a forward-facing opening so that the disc brake’s torque doesn’t cause an unplanned front wheel removal.
At this point I had to ask Harvey—you didn’t just start building bikes, did you? Turns out he did make a brief foray into bike building in the mid-‘90s, but more than that, he’s been a machinist and metal fabricator for 28 years, and the head of Andretti Motorsports’ machine shop for the last 12. Aha!
I mean, look at these lugs:
The bike is also fully outfitted for traveling, with S&S couplers and four separate wiring harnesses to allow the whole thing to break down easily.
One last detail — the headset spacer is machined down to form an elegantly curved neck, with an integrated bell. Audrey Hepburn would be jealous.
Harvey intends to do Paris-Brest-Paris on this bike in 2015, and all of the qualifying brevets beforehand. In case it’s not obvious, he is inspired by Rene Herse, and intends to get into making his own components, just like the master.Tweet
By Karen Brooks,
I was dutifully cruising the convention-hall lanes here at NAHBS for city bikes and I spotted a sleek machine at the side of the Bilenky booth.
It’s a stainless steel lugged frame with a popular combo here—Gates belt drive and Rohloff internal-gear hub. Truly low-maintenance. Check out the slick matching fenders…
… and sweet lugs.
But then my eyes were dazzled by an Amazonian superhero of a bike. The star details are hand-cut and reflective. Note the “Lasso of Truth” golden chain.
This is an actual customer’s bike—she’ll be using it as an around-town fixie. In fact, she’s already been riding it, a common theme among some of the coolest bikes here.
Stephen Bilenky, rocking the pink vest you see above, shared some drawings of the design process:
But the truly stunning thing at the Bilenky booth was hiding in the back, at least until it won an award for Best Lugged Frame: this beauty by Isis Shiffer, member of the Bilenky crew:
Just one word: Wow!
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Portland framebuilders Ira Ryan, left, and Tony Pereira joined forces to create Breadwinner cycles.
By Karen Brooks
Covering NAHBS is always tough—just about every booth has a cool story and some nice shiny bits to attract attention. This one was a bit of a surprise: a name I hadn’t heard before, but one that I think will make a big impact. Breadwinner Cycles is the secret-until-yesterday project of framebuilders Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan.
Pereira and Ryan’s business plan is to bring handmade bikes down from the rarified air they tend to inhabit and make them more accessible and affordable for the general public. They’re collaborating on a complete line of bikes, available as frame and fork for $2,000-$2,300, with just a 6-8 week turnaround time. They’ll do complete builds as well. In the next six months they aim to secure and outfit a Portland location in which they can produce 1,000 bikes a year. Since their current shops are located close to one another, they’ve been able to begin producing some bikes already.
The example that stuck out was this 650b-wheeled city bike with a front rack, dubbed “Arbor Lodge.” Aside from the usual generator lights, Honjo fenders, and disc brakes, it has a U-lock integrated into the frame in a convenient, yet unobtrusive way. The rack bag is by Blaq Bags, and that white stripe along the bottom flashes blue.
Breadwinner also displayed a road racing bike, a cyclocross model, a mountain bike, and these two: a black classic road bike with fenders and good tire clearance and a brown touring bike with front and rear racks. Both had matching pumps, naturally.
While we were chatting, another of Portland’s well-known framebuilders, Joseph Ahearne, came up and joined the conversation. We talked about why Portland boasts so many framebuilders—I haven’t added it up, but a significant portion of NAHBS exhibitors hail from there, this year and most years. So I asked these three if there was something in the water. It comes down to the city’s bike-friendliness, said Pereira. Getting around by bike is easy and common there, and so inventive types tend naturally to gravitate toward the bicycle as a good platform for experimentation and improvement. It’s cool to think that as more cities make bikes feel welcome, we’ll no doubt see more innovation and creativity surrounding the bicycle in years to come.Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Sometimes you just want to imagine yourself sailing down a silky-smooth country road, wine and cheese in the bag, and sun shining… Here at the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show there are plenty of classically beautiful road bikes to inspire just such a vision. Here are a few.
Shamrock Cycles Fluid Druid
Simply a traditional road frame with fender capability. Pretty fenders, too. I love the little Brooks tool roll on the back of the saddle.
“Sort of halfway between a road bike and a cross bike with the ability to do both.” Has clearance for 32c tires and, of course, a nice matching rack.
This more modern, stealth Ti beauty showed off Shimano 11-speed Dura Ace parts. Builder Drew Guldalian says that the front derailleur shifts so well, thanks to its extra leverage, “you could shift it with a broken finger.”
This lovely midnight-blue bike was dressed in new-old stock Campagnolo Nuvo Record parts. I asked builder Chris Bishop where he soured such things, and he said he’d found a collector that was more interested in early 1900’s stuff to him, these Campy parts were new, so he let them go. The hubs were still in a sealed box.
The rear spacing is the very old-school 120mm (BIshop’s first build with this size), and the cogset has only five speeds—the customer wanted a simple bike to ride in a relatively flat place.
This builder was a surprise—former road and track pro Rich Gängl has been building and painting custom bikes in Colorado for 34 years, but hadn’t been seen at NAHBS before. He had a full lineup of beauties, including his personal titanium road bike with carbon fiber seatstay and fork.
There was also this classic randonneuring bike, built with a generator hub and (Of course) matching pump and fenders.
This rare 1985 Gängl is built of Reynolds 753 steel and had a way cool vintage saddle.
This Gold Coast bike was waiting to be entered in the Best New Builder competition. The frame decoration is inspired by a stained-glass window made by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Coming up nextTweet
Building a bike to be an everyday vehicle gives a lot of opportunities for creative framebuilders to add all kinds of amenities to their NAHBS show bikes. Here’s a few that have stood out so far.
This Donkelope caught my eye right away. Builder Greg calls it a steampunk bike. It has an actual bike lamp—yes, a lamp—from the early 1900s, retrofitted with a modern LED light inside.
You’ll notice the curly bits to the left of the light—that’s stainless steel hydraulic housing making its roundabout way into the handlebar, then back out, then inside the frame. Pretty slick.
Here you can see the front housing entering the left fork leg, and the prettiest fender mounts I’ve seen.
Here’s the back end, with that housing peeking through before joining the rear brake, and another pretty fender mount. It’s tough to see here, but the paint was a sparkly black.
This Geekhouse Brentwood had a nice big front rack, generator lights, disc brakes, and a sweet old-school chainguard.
Metrofiets participated in the Disaster Relief Trials in Portland—read about that in issue #21, “Disaster Bikes.”
This bike had a vibe like an expensive car from a 1930s movie—refined, classy, and maybe a little intimidating. The dyed and embossed saddle is by artist Carson Leigh.
Here was a rando-ish practical looking bike from Sycip that had what is turning out to be a popular combination this year: a Roholoff 14-speed internal hub with a Gates belt drive.
This was one of the most interesting bikes I saw today—a monster of a cargo bike, with a serious motor to help push an insane load, from Portland builder Ti Cycles. It has a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal hub plus a Patterson transmission crank, for 22 speeds total, in case you feel like pedaling.
What’s going on here? That’s the exposed EcoDrive motor and drive wheels. That sucker puts out 1300 watts. Builder Dave Levy said it was awesomely fast… unless you’re testing it indoors, at a crowded bike show… anyway, EcoDrive is also from Portland. Their Velociraptor controller for the system is programmable.
The front generator hub trickle-charges a battery—the black box just behind the headlight—which then powers the lights and a USB port. The front basket also has a solar-paneled cover (forgotten in the rush to get to the show, alas).
When you’re hauling that much of a load, you might need some moral support. Check out the stack of headset spacers, in alternating colors and with logos meticulously aligned.
Renold Yip returned this year with the third version of his complete city bike. This one is on loan from the customer, an employee of Bikes Belong, who rides it daily. This one goes as well as shows.
For this iteration, Yip integrated a cable lock as well as a ring lock, and that’s a pump tucked between the twin top tubes.
And the sunflower rack is as pretty as ever.