Join us November 9-10 at the Philly Bike Expo

Pennsylvania is a big state, and we’ll be making the trek eastbound to visit our good friends Bilenky Cycle Works at the Philly Bike Expo, two days of artisans and activists at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The list of exhibitors is impressive, with Bicycles Times (of course) joining All City Cycles, Bern, Brompton, Gunnar, Knog, Princeton Tec, Raleigh, Surly, Thomson, Velo Orange, and dozens more.

Events? We’ve got events. The Hardcourt Couture fashion show will leave the runway in the dust and hit the bike polo court Saturday night. If you’d rather be indoors, there is a screening of “Where Are You Go”, a film documenting the Tour d’Afrique from Cairo to Capetown. Got some energy to spare? Get in on the Gold Springs for just $5 and win a custom R.E.Load bag. Plus there will be rides, seminars, yoga and book signings.

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Join us at Pedalfest in Oakland, July 20

By Maurice Tierney

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

 

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

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

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

Events

Whiskeydrome Stunt Action

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

BMX Stunt Team Performances

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

Oaklandish’s Kids Bicycle Parade

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

Bicycle Stunt Shows

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

Rock the Bike’s Pedal-powered Sound Stage

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

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

2. p.m.: Antioquia

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

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

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

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

U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame

A collection of vintage bikes.

Handmade Bicycles on Display

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

Pedal-powered Art & Food

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

Brompton Folding Bike Race

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

Kids Bicycle Rodeo

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

Pedal-powered Rides by Cyclecide

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

Bike Stand Demo Stage

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

Bike Trivia Dunk Tank

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

Bicycles and Bike Gear

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

New Belgium Beer Garden

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

Pedalfest Pig Roast by Lungomare

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


 


Revisiting our time spent with Alex Moulton

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

By Maurice Tierney.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By hand.


And barely have time to stop for a photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cheesesteaks, groundhogs, and the Philly Bike Expo

The Bilenky booth had a camping theme and this groundhog (woodchuck?) welcoming visitors. 

By Adam Newman

Our hometown of Pittsburgh might share the state license plates as the city at the other end, Philadelphia, but the two cities couldn’t be more different. Pittsburgh is hilly and decidedly Mid-western, while Philly is flat and far more densely urban. But the one thing the pair do have in common is a love of cycling, most notably celerated by the Philly Bike Expo and its hosts, Bilenky Cycle Works.

This past weekend we packed up the van and headed across the Turnpike, just in time to enjoy two days of pure bike geekdom before Hurricane Sandy blew everyone out of town. There were boths from custom framebuilders, local companies, big names like Shimano, and some awesome food trucks to keep everyone stuffed. And despite Philly’s reputation as a tough city, we experienced nothing but brotherly love.

If you still have electricity, spin through our photos and make some plans to join us again next year—Mother Nature willing, of course.

Born in the USA.

San Francisco cyclist and cycling cap maker Chuey Munkanta was in the news recently for disturbing reasons, and his sitation was on everyone’s mind. 

R.E.Load bags are handmade in Philadelphia.

 

Got curves?

Princeton Tec was building custom-colored blinky lights for customers in its booth.

Cooper Bikes takes its inspiration from four wheels.

GiveLoveCycle created a new line of bags that combines cycling practicality with high style.

American craftsmanship on display.

Horse Cycles had a booth-within-a-booth.

Minnie Mouse would look great on me.

Expo hosts Bilenky Cycle Works was showing off this Wonder-ful bike…

…as well as its popular service of retro-fitting S&S couplers for traveling with your bike.

Bilenky is also known for its tandems, and this one suffered no shortage of accessories.

Contests at the show included a fastest flat fix…

…and a mechanic’s bike-building contest.

Go home groundhog. You are drunk. 

See you next year everybody!


Recap: the Bicycle Times Gran Fondo of the Alleghenies

By Karen Brooks, photos by Trina Haynes.

You’ve seen the ads in our magazine for a while now, and this past Saturday the day finally came for this gran(d) event. Trina and I made the trek north to the town of Warren, Pa., to check it out.

As it turned out, a good friend of mine from college days, Bonnie, was also going to be in Warren that weekend to help her parents close up their summer cabin on the bank of the Allegheny River. She found out about the Fondo and enthusiastically offered us a place to stay. We were able to offer her a bike to do the ride. And thus an excellent weekend adventure came together.

The start of the ride was frosty, in the mid-20s. Josh and Aaron from the local shop doing sag support, Allegheny Cyclery, wisely brought gloves, shoe covers, and even Bar Mitts to sell. (They got some of my business—I bought heavier gloves and was glad I did.) But the day was beautiful, with the amazing colors of fall on full display.

I opted for the Gran option, consisting of 110 miles. The route was quite pleasant—the roads were butter-smooth, the few climbs were relatively gentle, and the local car drivers were polite. The twisty, rolling roads going through the Allegheny National Forest were my favorite. Despite not having as many course markings as I’m used to, fortunately there were few turns, and I found my way without incident.

Bonnie was nervous about completing the 68-mile Medio option, but I reassured her that an organized Gran Fondo is a great way to attempt a long ride, since there would be support along the way and other riders to share the fun (and suffering). Their route choice had the benefit of crossing over the scenic Kinzua Dam. She and Trina finished and had a great time.

We all chowed down at the finish line barbecue, then unfortunately had to split before we could enjoy more homemade cherry pie, courtesy of Bonnie’s mom.

Did you do the Fondo and have feedback? Let us know in the comments!


A visit to Timbuk2 headquarters, and a custom Bicycle Times backpack

By Trina Haynes

My very first official cycling bag was a Timbuk2 “Bolo”. I was handed it, my clipboard and a rain jacket my first day as a bike messenger in 1989. Needless to say it is still in my closet, adorned to my wall as a momentous turning point in my ongoing love for bicycles. While in San Francisco last month I had the opportunity to visit Timbuk2‘s California office.

For more than 20 years Timbuk2 has been making and shipping custom/build your own bags, out of their California office.

Founded by a San Francisco Bike Messenger, Rob Honeycutt, who was determined to make a bag that was durable enough for the gritty lifestyle of a real messenger, he sewed the very first bag in his garage in 1989, the company name was “Scumbags”. By 1990, the realization that “Scumbags” needed a more credible name, Timbuk2 was born. It was not until 1991 that the swirl logo was developed.

I found this old gem at the Seattle Bike Expo the following weekend.

Timbuk2 has continued to grow with a complete line of bags and accessories. I am excited to announce that Bicycle Times has teamed with Timbuk2 in creating our very own custom bag. Made in San Francisco and adorned with the Bicycle Times logo, it’s now on sale in our Online Store. With a large reflective stripe, a padded laptop sleeve and super-durable ballistic nylon fabric, it’s going to last you a long, long time.


NAHBS 2012 Sacramento: Photos from Day 3

Our third installment of photos by Justin Steiner at the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show. You can see parts one and two online, as well as a full gallery by “liking” us on our Facebook page.

Enjoy!

Steve Rex

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Funk Cycles

Soulcraft

Slim

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Bruce Gordon

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Naked Cycles


NAHBS 2012 Sacramento: A bike pr0n teaser

Photos by Justin Steiner

We have a ton of great coverage headed your way, but we didn’t want to make you wait, so here’s a sample of some of the bikes we’ve been taking a closer look at. We’re shooting video interviews with the builders, so you’ll get the behind-the-scenes details straight from them. Stay tuned!

P.S. Got anything you want to make sure we don’t miss? Post in the comments!

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Nominate a hero to win a Yuba Mundo longtail bike

Do you know a Mundo Hero? Someone who serves the community rain or shine? Volunteers at a soup kitchen? Helps kids learn how to read? Rescues cats from from burning buildings?

Nominate your local hero in the Mundo Hero Contest and they could win a free Yuba Mundo!

To enter, simply submit a photo of your favorite do-gooder with a description of their community service on the Yuba Facebook page between now and December 31. Come back in January and vote for them. The hero with the most votes by January 15 wins the bike, so encourage your friends to vote.

Nominations will be accepted until December 31, 2011. Voting will take place January 1-15, 2012, and the winner will be announced January 17, 2012.


Moots factory photo gallery

In September 2011 we visited the Moots factory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Here are some photos from our visit.

Photos by Adam Newman

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Welder Matt Pronovost lays down one of Moots’ signature double-pass, stack-of-dimes welds.

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The signature brushed Moots finish is achieved by blasting the frames with tiny glass beads.

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Moots didn’t always build in titanium. This early-’90s time trial bike is TIG-welded steel.

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Tubesets are kept at-the-ready for new orders.

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For 2012 the Mooto X RSL 29er gets a new, curvy downtube.

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Don’t expect to see this time-trial prototype in the Moots catalog anytime soon. After mitering, each tube is smoothed by hand.

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The welding area is tidy and organized, with plenty of room to work.

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The factory building houses the construction area on the first floor, offices on the second floor, and three apartments on the third floor.

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Welder Matt Pronovost lays down one of Moots’ signature double-pass, stack-of-dimes welds.The signature brushed Moots finish is achieved by blasting the frames with tiny glass beads.Moots didn’t always build in titanium. This early-’90s time trial bike is TIG-welded steel.Tubesets are kept at-the-ready for new orders.For 2012 the Mooto X RSL 29er gets a new, curvy downtube.Don’t expect to see this time-trial prototype in the Moots catalog anytime soon. After mitering, each tube is smoothed by hand.moots5The welding area is tidy and organized, with plenty of room to work.The factory building houses the construction area on the first floor, offices on the second floor, and three apartments on the third floor.DSC_3588DSC_3493

 


An interview with Don Walker

Don Walker is the founder and president of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. We caught up with him at the 2011 show in Austin, Texas.

By Jeff Lockwood

What’s yoru hometown?

I was born and raised in Sacramento, California.

And your current location?

I now call Speedway, Indiana home.

What do you do with bicycles?

I build, assemble, and tinker with bikes under the Don Walker Cycles name. Primarily I build road bikes and track bikes. Those are my main focus. And then I like to build track tandems on occasion. I also just did a nice road tandem that was at the [North American Handmade Bicycle] show. I build ‘cross bikes, and I’m probably going to start building some mountain bikes. I work with steel and am primarily a fillet brazer. I usually do one lugged bike per year. And I display all of them once a year at NAHBS.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The freedom of not reporting to someone else and being responsible for my success or failure.

What’s the toughest part of your job?

See above statement.

What are your interests aside from bicycles?

I like music—all different kinds. I occasionally play guitar…poorly, watch movies with my kids, play and watch ice hockey, cook at my house, hang out with friends, etc.

What was the path that led you to work with bicycles?

Mine was a natural progression: ride bicycles, race bicycles, work on bicycles, build bicycles, promote handmade bicycles. I’m not sure where the next step goes.

Tell me about the decisions that led you to start the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

NAHBS was the culmination of an internet framebuilder group with an interest in getting all the newbie builders together to steer them in the right direction. But I put a spin on the concept, and wanted the public to see what the builders had to offer. I felt that it should be about marketing ourselves, collectively and on the cheap.

How important is the fact NAHBS is also a consumer show?

I think that’s probably the most important thing. Many of the larger companies get to spend time at Interbike and shows like that, and reach out to the industry. But until the public actually sees the stuff and hears the message coming from these companies…until you can reach out and touch it and talk to the manufacturer…it just kind of doesn’t really hit home. Their message is there through print advertising, but most of these small builders don’t get that opportunity. This is their opportunity to see what we’re doing.

But Mavic has said that, “It’s so good for us to reach out. Not just to the frame builders, but also to the consumers. Because they really don’t know who we are, and that’s what we really want to fix. We want to reach out and let them see what we’re up to and to talk to us.” It was a great feeling hearing that from them!

What do you see as the next trend in framebuilding?

That’s a great question. I wish I had a stronger answer, but I do see more people getting into the bamboo game. I think the bamboo thing is going to double in size in the next two years. There’s what, six guys doing it now? I believe in the next two years, there is going to be twelve guys doing it. If not more. Because it’s a renewable, green industry. Bamboo supplies are never going to dwindle. The stuff grows fast.

That’s one thing. The next trend… if I could step out on a limb, I’d say the next trend would probably be…for steel builders…I’ve already seen it, and I’m not claiming to be the guy that’s started it, but I think in 2006 or 2007, I had a double oversized lugged track bike in my booth. In the last year or so, I’ve seen more guys going to double oversized lugged tubes [originally designed for mountain bikes]. I think it’s going to be huge… road, track, ‘cross, whatever.

Who would you say are some of your mentors?

When I first started out building, the first guy that helped me out the most was a guy by the name of Al Wanta in southern California. He’d answer a lot of questions. After that era…guys that I enjoyed talking to. Roland De la Santa is one. I don’t know he was necessarily a “mentor” because his style of building is totally different than mine. He’s old-school lugged Italian, and I’m new-school fillet-brazed. I don’t know if you know Roland, but that guy is just so much fun to talk to.

How about influences?

OK, here’re two reasons why I got into fillet brazing. When I was a junior, I didn’t even own a track bike…I had to borrow one to go to nationals in 1983. The guy I borrowed it from was like a top five junior track racer in the 1970’s. And he had a custom Ron Cooper track bike. That bike was fillet-brazed. And I fell in love with the bike when I borrowed it. It was the most amazing bike I’d ever seen, and the joints flowed together so smoothly into each tube! Wow!

I said, “Someday when I start building bikes, I want to make them this pretty.” And that was the beginning.

The second reason is that when I started building bikes, I was using oversized tubing, and at that time there weren’t lugs for it. I started aero tubing, and there’s no lugs for that. So I got good at making fillets.

If you weren’t working around bicycles, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would probably still be an aircraft mechanic. I like working with my hands and I like aircraft, so…

How do you see NAHBS changing in the next five years, if at all?

If anything, we’re going to try to refocus and try to make sure there are some builders involved. There have been a lot of builders going to the events and worrying about the costs, so they’re starting to do the regional shows because they think that might be a better deal. But really in the long run, it’s not best for their marketing dollar because the regional shows only show their product in that region. And the more regional shows don’t really have the media show up like we do. We’re really going to try and market to these builders to bring them to the show and help them with their sales.

I’ve implemented an advisory board this year, and I’m getting a lot of good feedback from that from everybody. Other than that, I don’t see any major changes, but trying to get the ratio of builders to other exhibitors higher.

There’s been a proliferation in the smaller, more local shows over the past few years. One argument could be made this galvanizes the importance of NAHBS, or it could hurt it. How do you see some of these shows?

In the beginning I was under the impression it was a great idea. And then it became obvious some of them wanted to compete with me. We had teamed up with them and fostered them and helped them along. And then they ended up wanting to compete with me, so I wasn’t all that thrilled about it.

I’m definitely not saying I’m untouchable. But NAHBS is the framebuilder show. It’s the best show of its kind. And I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m not saying I can’t improve…because I’m constantly trying to improve the show. I think I’m more apt to reach out to some of the smaller shows now, and see if we can co-op our marketing and other stuff like that.

But generally I’m not really worried about them [the smaller shows] right now.

There’s a lot of debate in the bike community about the definition of “handmade bike.” How do you define it?

What defines it for NAHBS purposes, or basically entry into NAHBS, is: it’s not a stock frame; it’s if the phone rings, an order is taken and a bicycle is made to fill that order. Even some of the larger guys like Serotta make stock frames, but when the phone rings, they say, “Hey, we got a guy that needs this particular geometry, this particular top tube length.” And you can get custom paint as well. That fills the niche. That fills our criteria. So some of the larger companies that do that…absolutely.

If it gets to be too grand of a scale? For example, Cannondale tried to come in a few years ago. They said, “Hey, we’re handmade in the USA.” So then I asked them to make me a frame and I gave them a drawing. “I need a 59.4cm top tube, a 72.63 seat tube angle.” And I just went through the stuff. And he said he couldn’t do that, and I said, “OK, well, you don’t fit.”

You had mentioned Mavic, and I know Shimano is involved, too. Why would you want larger, non-framebuilding companies at the show?

The show is obviously about framebuilders. Component companies that make a high-end component, or a component you would find on one of our bikes, are welcome as well. And that’s because they come to the show and offer something different to look at…other than every single booth being handmade frames. They offer a little bit of variety.

The other reason is that they also provide those components to us. Many of them have their own OEM sales staff, and we get to purchase the components from them direct at a discounted rate rather than going through a regular distributor.

Shimano, this year as most years, put together a breakfast for most of the builders. They provide all the new technical data for what they’re doing. So people learn more about the products they’re putting on their bikes.

Read more

This is an extended version of an interview that also appears in Issue #11 along side 13 pages of complete NAHBS coverage. You can order an issue here and be sure to sign up for a subscription so you don’t miss any future issues.


Interbike 2010 wrap-up

Wow. It’s going to take weeks – or months! – to unravel all the storylines coming out of the show, but watch this space as we continue to bring you all the goodies from Last Vegas.

Photo galleries

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Bike reviews

Each year at Interbike we partner with manufacturers to borrow bikes for the week to allow us to commute from our hotel to the show without relying on fossil fuels. And besides, riding bikes is just more fun! In return, we provide feedback on their products.

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Advocacy groups

Most of the coverage from Interbike each year is about new companies and new products, but it’s not all about the bling. Here are few of the advocacy organizations at the show that we looked into, and why you should too.

Plus: watch for more to come!


 


Interbike 2010 Day 4

The Strida folding bike
This trade show is always a whirlwind of updates, innovations, and improvements, but a common thread running through things we’ve seen from Monday ‘til today is how they are making it easier for everyone to ride a bike. The cycling industry is recognizing that the way to grow is to reach out to people who don’t consider themselves “cyclists” per se and draw them into the fold.
Fun cruisers from Electra help people pedal with confidence. Useful accessories from Biologic enhance the convenience of cycling. Some people have been “getting it” for a while now, like Joe Breeze, who has been putting out practical city (and country) bikes since 2001, and Jeff Scully, who has been importing the German brand Ortlieb’s waterproof panniers and bags since before the latest commuting “craze.” Innovative folders from Strida make it easy to bring a bike along almost anywhere. Some new-school style from the likes of Chrome and Mission Workshop attract the trendsetters.
We did some research, yes, but we also did some unabashed drooling at pretty, shiny bikes. Click over to our Day 4 gallery to see what we saw.
- Karen Brooks, Editor

 


Interbike 2010 Day 3

So here we are at day three of Interbike, the first day of the traditional indoor show. We followed up on some great electric-assist and cargo bike options, as well as sampled some great urban cycling accessories.

Among the cool new bikes we saw were the Zigo bicycle/stroller system, the full-size bikes that fold (not folding bikes) from Montague, some beautiful city bikes from Linus, and a seriously heavy-duty step-through from Urbana.

Accessory highlights included the new shoes from DZR, which feature recessed cleat attachments, jackets and tees from ModRobes made from recycled plastic and new panniers and bags from Timbuk2.

Follow through to our galleries for complete coverage of all the eye candy.

 


Interbike 2010 Day 1: E-bikes get a jolt

The Spot Acme, featuring a Gates CarbonDrive belt. See all our photos in our Day 1 gallery.

Interbike 2010 Day 1: E-bikes get a jolt

By Karen Brooks

It was just one day, but already we’ve seen some interesting and possibly game-changing things going on in the world of bicycles.

One mission (of many) for us on this Interbike trip is to learn as much as we can about e-bikes, light electric vehicles, pedal-assist bikes and the like. Starting, perhaps, with nailing down the correct term for them… Generally, we’re talking about anything with a battery-powered motor that gives a boost to the rider’s own pedaling power. In the past, such bikes were heavy, clunky things with unimpressive ranges, but as with most electronic gadgets, advances in technology are progressing rapidly and e-bikes are getting lighter and more capable all the time.

This time last year we began to explore e-bikes and came away with favorable impressions. A few weeks ago, we began to hear tell from Eurobike that e-bikes were the hot ticket, with lots of companies entering the market and choices abounding. It seems that some of this buzz has crossed the pond – at this year’s Outdoor Demo, we’ve found plenty of new and improved e-bikes to check out. Today Karl and I rode models from Ultra-Motor and Kilowatt, and we’ll try out some more from Currie and OHM Cycles tomorrow. I gotta admit, it’s quite fun to casually speed past a fully kitted-up roadie huffing and puffing up the hill of the Outdoor Demo test track.

An important distinction between e-bikes we’ve uncovered so far is how the motor is engaged, with a throttle alone or by pedaling. The Ultra-Motor bike we rode, their sleek-looking new Metro model, uses a spring-loaded twist throttle on the handlebar. Its action was smooth, but you had to keep it turned to keep the motor on and at a consistent output, and it was possible to “rev” the motor when not on the bike.

The more motorcycle-savvy riders might prefer this style, though. The Kilowatt uses a BionX pedal-assist system that doesn’t kick in unless the rider applies pedaling force – this type of bike is known as a “pedelec” to distinguish it from the throttle type. It was intuitive to use and didn’t cause any surprise jolts, but one couldn’t ride along passively as on a throttle-equipped e-bike. These are just first impressions, and we’ll need to get our hands on some of each type for a longer-term test to really explore their strengths and drawbacks.

We saw a couple of cool developments in drivetrains, a new version of Gates’ Belt Drive called Center Track and a new version of the continuously variable transmission from NuVinci.

The NuVinci shifter was way cool – it basically shifts from one end of its “gear” range to the other in one sweep rather than in steps, like a volume knob. We’d ridden an earlier version, the N171, at the Sea Otter race in April, but it had a slight “hitch” to it; the new N360 system felt butter-smooth, and lighter by 30% than its predecessor.
Gates has tweaked their almost ubiquitous Belt Drive transmission – it’s now called Center Track, as the chainring and cog each have a “fin” running around the circumference that fits in the center of the belt’s teeth.

This center track keeps the belt from walking off the chainring or cog, helps the system shed mud, and allows both chainring and cog to be made smaller. Oh, and by the way, we learned that the proper term for both “chainring” and “cog” in a belt drive transmission is actually “pulley” – thus pulley and belt, versus chain and chainring (and cog).

One last bit of wisdom gleaned before the end of the day: there’s something so very right about listening to Johnny Cash with a backdrop of crickets, helicopters and laughter that is nighttime in Las Vegas.


Tour of England part three: Moulton

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.

By hand.


And barely have time to stop for a photo.

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

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


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