It’s a warm morning. The sun’s out and spring has sprung. I’m stepping out of my back door with Cannondale’s Quick CX 3 ready to start the 11-mile commute to the office. My neighbor waves “good morning,” and it promises to be a great day for a ride.
My commute isn’t difficult. There aren’t many hills, or even traffic, but it traverses a variety of riding surfaces. It can make finding an appropriate bike challenging.Tweet
Most people associate Norco with adrenaline-fueled gravity and freeride mountain bikes, for good reason. The company’s head office is located in British Columbia, Canada, the heart of those cycling disciplines. But Norco is not all dirt. The Indie models, part of the company’s Urban Performance line, are designed for pavement and come in either straight or drop bar configurations. The Indie Drop 1—obviously with a drop bar—is the middle sibling of the trio.Tweet
Xtracycle is largely responsible for the blossoming of the longtail cargo bike market in the United States. In the late 1990s, Xtracycle was thinking big thoughts about what widespread acceptance of the cargo bike could do for American transportation infrastructure. This led to the FreeRadical, a bolt-on rear frame extension that turned many an unused bike into an incredibly practical cargo bike. Since then, the longtail has been in continuous development, with a handful of companies using the Xtracycle LT open standard as the basis for complete cargo bikes.
The idea of a complete bike has always been part of the plan at Xtracycle, but until the EdgeRunner, all complete Xtracycles just used the bolt-on FreeRadical extension. But a purpose-built, one-piece frame is really the best way to go for a heavy-duty cargo bike. While Xtracycle wasn’t quick to come to market with one, the EdgeRunner was worth the wait.Tweet
Misceo is a Latin verb that means “to mix or blend.” The idea behind the Raleigh Misceo Trail 2.0—a flat-bar, 700c bike decked out with disc brakes and a suspension fork—is to blend the performance and versatility of a mountain bike with the comfort and street-friendliness of a hybrid. This machine is designed to tackle a variety of terrain, including pavement, rough roads and even dirt trails.Tweet
While many brands have introduced “endurance” road bikes over the last few years, few have taken the idea to quite the extreme as Trek. The Domane was developed with considerable input from Swiss pro cyclist Fabian Cancellara, who is known for his steam-engine riding style, using his massive power output to crush cobblestones in the fabled Spring Classics. He is said to enjoy the bike so much that he rides it year-round, even in the Tour de France, choosing it over Trek’s racier Madone model.
The frame features the intriguing IsoSpeed decoupler, an ingenious system that separates the seat tube from the top tube and seatstays, and allows the seat tube to flex and pivot at the mounting point. If you stand next to the bike and put your weight on the saddle, you can see the seat tube flex slightly, but while riding it is imperceptible until you hit a bump.Tweet
For the eco-conscious, or those just looking for a conversation starter, Schwinn offers the Vestige, with a frame constructed of flax fiber (90 percent flax, 10 percent carbon). Derived from the same plant that gives us linen, flax fiber maintains a high tensile strength that makes it an alternative to carbon fiber, but possesses a biodegradable attribute that carbon fiber does not. Why not use 100 percent flax, then? Flax alone isn’t stiff enough to meet European standards on its own, so Schwinn adds some carbon for rigidity.Tweet
Bianchi is the oldest manufacturer producing bicycles these days, having been started by company namesake Edoardo Bianchi in 1885. That’s nearly 130 years of bicycle production. Though the Bianchi name is often associated with road racing, the company got its start producing bikes for the evolving transportation market in the late nineteenth century. How fitting then we have this opportunity to review Bianchi’s transportation-focused Metropoli Uno.Tweet
Trek’s CrossRip is part of the Urban Utility line. Two models are offered, the basic Crossrip and the upgraded Elite. Both are spec’d with a drop bar for versatility and comfort, and differ only in the parts package.
The frame is made from Trek’s 100 series Alpha aluminum, with a Bontrager Satellite carbon fork. The tubes are shaped to create a stiff front end and bottom bracket that doesn’t flex when standing and pedaling, but also to keep frame weight to a minimum.Tweet
Kona designed the Rove as a versatile machine, mixing the practicality of its commuter and touring models with the fit and geometry of its cyclocross heritage. The result is a bike that feels responsive, but still delivers versatility that will keep you rolling all year.
It seems rim vs. disc brakes has superseded Campagnolo vs. Shimano as the debate du jour in the bicycle industry, and there’s no doubt which side I’m on. A mechanical disc brake is easy to set up, simple to maintain, performs well, and inspires far more confidence in this rider than a rim brake ever could. The Rove’s Hayes CX5 calipers did seem underpowered at first, but once the pads were bedded in they stopped just as I had hoped. I’m a little surprised to see 140mm rotors spec’d when 160mm wouldn’t seem excessive.Tweet
The Crosstrail formula is simple: aluminum frame with generous tire clearance plus rack and fender mounts, 60mm-travel SR Suntour NEXi suspension fork, a 3×9 drivetrain, Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes, and wheels and tires on the heavy-duty end of the road spectrum. This package delivers a highly versatile bike that can be used for commuting, light touring, road rides, urban and rural exploration, and even some light-duty trail riding.Tweet
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer, they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over rail-road ballast and everything in between.
Company founder (and BMX freestyle pro) Taj Mihelich says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling… I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet
Rather than a beefed-up touring bike like the Co-Motion Divide we reviewed last week, the Fargo 2 is actually a drop-bar mountain bike, with a lighter compact frame, 2×10 drivetrain, tubeless wheels, and slacker geometry than the Co-Motion. A tall, 44mm head tube means a higher handlebar for comfort off-road, and suspension-corrected geometry allows a suspension fork upgrade.Tweet
The Co-Motion Divide’s rugged looking frame is hand-built in Oregon using oversized Reynolds 725 chromoly tubing. Co-Motion’s tandem expertise is evident in the massive chainstays and the 40-spoke wheels, built using DT-Swiss 540 tandem hubs (with 145mm rear spacing for a dishless wheel) and Velocity Cliffhanger rims. The stout 44 mm-diameter head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business.
The Divide rode like it meant business, too. As soon as I got her built, I zipped through the mean streets and hit the local trails. The bike felt incredibly stiff and well built. I took that as an encouraging sign for the loaded tour that lay ahead—a 355-mile self-supported tour along the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Like moths to a flame, we bike geeks get drawn to the bright, shiny stuff at Interbike. Our definitions of “shiny” can vary from ultra-bling to practical-chic to clever and well-made. But it is nice, sometimes, to breathe the rarified air of the top-of-the-line. Shimano’s R785 brake and Di2 shifting systems are two such examples.
As disc brakes are becoming more common on everything from adventure touring to cyclocross to commuting bikes, and even creeping their way onto road-racing style bikes, the big two component brands, Shimano and SRAM, are paying attention. The natural next step in the evolution is to follow mountain bikes and go fully hydraulic. Aftermarket hydraulic brake systems for drop bars from TRP, Formula and others have been around for a few years, but until recently there haven’t been one-stop options. SRAM debuted the Hydro R system, for disc or rim brakes, earlier this year. Shimano fired back with the artfully named R785 hydraulic brake system that integrates with Di2 electronic shifting, and I got a chance to try out both here at Interbike. Read the full storyTweet
By Adam Newman
We’re excited to see more bikes coming around for the kind of riding we love the most: rambling adventures from the city to the mountains. The Giant AnyRoad might not have an innovative name, but the design is perfect for a huge segment of the bike-riding market. The aluminum frame offers a hugely sloping top tube for standover clearance, room for 700x48c tires, a carbon fiber fork and fender mounts.Tweet
By Karen Brooks
Dutch-style bikes have become popular as accoutrements in certain U.S. cities, allowing urban dwellers to glide along the streets with European sophistication, suits and skirts unruffled. However the history of these bikes, from English roadster to opafiets, is more about daily transportation than fashion. This style is just as popular with the Danes as with the Dutch, and Viva Bike Design represents the Danes, hailing from Copenhagen and headed by a former member of the Danish national cycling team.
The Danish version of these daily drivers is a bit lighter and sportier than the Dutch “grandpa” bike (“opafiets” in English). The Kilo model is a slight variation, with 26 inch wheels and fat tires rather than 700c and thinner rubber, basically adding pneumatic suspension to the package. Although this could never be mistaken for a lightweight, the Kilo’s chromoly steel frame is less hefty than the typical high-tensile steel of many of its tank-like counterparts.
Its frame geometry is a tad less relaxed than others as well, giving it quicker handling. Of course, its riding position is bolt upright, good for seeing and being seen in traffic and easy on the spine, if a little awkward for steeper, standing climbs. The bottom bracket is positioned high enough that the pedals were a bit far from the pavement, so that stopping required getting off the saddle to put a foot down, something I’d expect from a more performance-oriented bike. Otherwise, the bike’s overall impression is one of sturdiness and capability without being sluggish. Read the full storyTweet
By Stephen Haynes
When the folks at Fairdale put together the Flyer they were thinking of people who ride their bikes occasionally, and casually at that. The intention was to create a bike you can pick up and ride with little fuss, little maintenance, and be happy about the experience. This bike is just as comfortable cruising the strand as it is rolling over railroad ballast and everything in between.
Company founder Taj Mihelich (and BMX freestyle pro) says, “the whole point of Fairdale is to try and get people to find their love of cycling…I spent a lifetime on bikes and I want to create bikes that help other people experience some of that. It’s sometimes counter-intuitive to put a casual rider on a singlespeed bike. However, inexperienced riders are often confused by derailleurs and their required maintenance. Having a bike that they can keep going is a huge key to keeping them riding.”Tweet
By Jeff Lockwood
Giro New Road apparel collection
Giro still makes some awesome helmets. And their shoes are still way rad, especially their super-stylish Republic shoe.
But what intrigues us the most right now us is the New Road cycling apparel collection. The refined aesthetic of the products in the line is what first grabs the eye, but the logical details are what really gets the interest going.
Giro uses the terms “Mobility” and “Ride” to define the two themes or aims of the line. “Mobility” refers to the side of the line better suited (get it?) towards the commuting rider. With wise use of wool and technical fabrics, tops like the Merino Polo top and the Mobility Trouser are undeniably stylish and truly useful as every day, off-bike clothing, but feature cycling-specific details like almost invisible shoulder vents and reflective bits on the pant cuffs.
The “Ride” pieces are definitely meant for people looking for more high-tech features for longer-distance road rides, yet hoping for an aesthetic that’s less likely to get snide remarks at the mid-ride cafe or bar stop.
Giro has found that carrying essentials like tubes, tools and phones is more efficient and more comfortably done as close to the body as possible. As such, the layers closest to the body in the Ride side of the line such as the Bib Undershort (complete with a quick-access fly) and the Base Pockets base-layer shirt feature back pockets. Pieces like the Ride Jersey and Ride Overshort give street-smart cover to the book-smart techy undergarments.
While the men’s New Road line is in its second season, the New Road women’s collection is a new addition for 2014. The same detail, technology, style and aesthetic sense of the men’s collection is tempered with specific tailoring for women. And Giro isn’t just giving lip service here. The women’s collection is just as broad as the men’s, and the first half of the catalog is devoted to the women’s line, pictured here:
By Jeff Lockwood
Bicycle and component manufacturers from all around the world are gathered in Friedrichshaven, Germany, for the annual Eurobike trade show. It’s a huge show with every bicycle-related product you can imagine… and some you can’t imagine. Here are some of the things that caught our eye so far.
The Wishbone Bike is a 3-in-1 training bike for the kids. This transforming cycle starts out as a pedal-less trike. The bike’s Rotafix concept allows you to remove one of the rear arms and wheels to change the bike into more of a two-wheeler when you child is ready to graduate to learning to balance. As your child grows, flip the rear arm of the bike to make it a bit taller for his or her scooting enjoyment. Your kids will love the seven color choices for the saddle and grips, and you’ll love the fact that these bikes are made from 70% post-consumer recycled carpet.
The Dutch really rule the bakfiets (cargo bike) concept, and Urban Arrow from Holland take it to another level. Using a unique modular design, you can theoretically have three different cargo bike configurations: one to transport your kids (Family), one to shuttle a lot of groceries (Cargo), and a smaller front end to get a couple cases of beer to the party (Shorty). The rear frame of the bike is consistent in all three models, with the different front frames available separately. The bikes are available with or without a Bosch electric-assist drivetrain, which can be very handy when you’re loaded up with kids. The Family (pictured) features a sturdy expanded polypropylene cargo area for the kids.
San Francisco-based DZR offers up the H2O shoe for your daily commuting needs. The seams on the H2O are fully sealed, making these sheepskin kicks waterproof. The steel-reinforced footbed offers stability during your rides and a strong base for cleats, should you choose to rock clipless pedals.
Looking for a no-nonsense and colorful way to store your bike in your tight apartment or garage? Check out the new Endo line from Cycloc. The strong plastic hook folds flat to the wall when not in use, and easily flips up to hold the front wheel. Two wide rubber contact pads protect the wall from dirty tires as your bike hangs patiently waiting for the next ride. One particular neat feature is the hollow hinge that’s large enough to hold a u-lock.
Helt-pro is a German company that makes helmets that are…umm…designed to not particularly look like helmets. If you’re not a fan of how you look wearing a normal bicycle helmet, or if you just want a fun way to protect your lid, Helt-pro offers dozens of helmets that look like all kinds of hats.
Comfortably carry your bicycle lock as you ride. I never thought I’d say that, but Hiplok has three wearable locks that allow just such a thing. The Pop model is a very simple cable lock with a unique fastening system. The plastic ends of the cable contain the lock mechanism, but both ends also clip onto the cable itself. You can then slide those ends up and down the cable to create a belt around your waist when you’re not locking the bike. The Lite and it’s bigger big brother V1.50 are chain locks. The sturdy yet comfortable fabric cover for the chain includes an adjustable hook and loop closure system so you can adjust the chain to fit around your waist. Finally, the Hiplok D is a u-lock style design, but with large clips on the back side. Hang the D on your back pocket, your belt or a bag strap.
The Trolley M from Klickfix is quite the useful bag. The stylish bag can immediately clip on and off the rear rack of your bike, pannier-style. It has a 43 liter capacity, which means you can pack quite a load. Fortunately skate wheels on the bottom of the bag, and the extendable, hidden handle allow you to easily pull it along the sidewalk or grocery store aisles.
O-range is an Italian company making some nice bags with integrated solar panels. We’ve seen similar bags before, but the O-range bags stand out because they’re super lightweight, quite stylish and the solar panel is flexible. The water-resistant bags are 100% welded, and have no seams. The messenger-style and roll-top back packs are available with or without the solar panels. The solar panels actually charge a separate battery from O-range via an integrated USB cable. You can then charge your device by hooking it up to the fully-charged battery. O-range also offers flat roll-top bags big enough to carry tablets, phones or GPS devices. These bags directly connect to, and charge, these devices.
Garmin is pretty much the market leader when it comes to bicycle GPS devices, and they look to get even bigger with their new GPS and camera mashup. Yet, I actually prefer the TomTom GPS for my car, and always wondered why they never got into the sports market. Well TomTom is here now. While the TomTom Multi-Sport is not strictly bike-specific, it can be mounted to your handlebars and used to give you all your riding data. It’s also watch-sized and can be worn as such for running, hiking and even swimming.
Everyone in our family are big fans of this child seat from Yepp. Us parents like it because it can immediately attach and detach from the rear rack of our bikes, making it extremely easy to swap from bike to bike. Our daughter likes it because it’s comfortable. All of us like it because it doesn’t look clunky and lame.
As a professional racer, Rebecca Rusch gets to ride some of the most beautiful terrain in the world. Now she is iviting you to join her on the same roads she uses to train in her own chosen paradise in Sun Valley, Idaho. Rebecca’s Private Idaho is a leg-buster of a ride with both Big Potato (95-mile) and Small Fry (50-mile) options.
Naturally, bike riders are a generous bunch, so the ride will benefit three of Rusch’s favorite charities: The Wood River Bike Coalition, the local voice for trail-building and bike policy; PeopleForBikes.org, the nation’s top-shelf all-around bike advocacy group; and World Bicycle Relief, an organization bringing practical bikes to villages in Africa in order to provide independence and improve quality of life.
Earlier this month there was concern the first edition of RPI would take place at all as the Beaver Creek Fire descended on Sun Valley, but Rusch sent out a note today welcoming riders:
Our little mountainous corner of the world has been all over the media as this fire has threatened our homes and community over the last week. But, thanks to the efforts of almost 1,750 local, state, and federal firefighters, the end is in sight. Fire lines are containing the spread of the blaze and nearly all resources are now being devoted to directly attacking the fire itself. Smoke is giving way to blue skies daily and people are starting to return to their homes.
All of which means one very important thing: REBECCA’S PRIVATE IDAHO IS ON!
Yep, it was touch and go there for a minute, but the inaugural RPI is indeed taking over the gravel roads and streets of Ketchum/Sun Valley on September 1. We’re a town in need of a party and this grueling ride will signal the first return to normalcy since the fire began. You’ve not seen a jubilant, surging crowd until you’ve seen a community come back from the edge like this. It’s time to focus on the better things in life, on-bike and off, and we want you to come along with us.
Registration remains open until August 28 and, as a special nod to the firefighters who serve their communities, I’m offering a free RPI entry to any firefighter who wants to participate. I’m on the Ketchum fire department myself and have been working this fire for the last week. These are every bit as much my people as the athletes with whom I race throughout the year. If I can extend them my thanks by hosting them for a well-deserved, if challenging, day in the saddle and some beer and grub afterward, I’d be honored. Send us a note at [email protected] to get sorted.
Thanks to you all for hanging in there while we made sure there was a place left for us all to ride. We were excited about this event before. Now, it takes on a special significance as the party that reopens Ketchum and Sun Valley to the world after a seriously close call.
Feels really good to say it: see you soon,