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.
Geoffrey Franklin runs Walnut Studiolo, where he makes wood and leather bicycle accessories by hand. He shares his thoughts on the design process and explains what it really means for something to be "handmade".
You can learn more about Geoff’s work at walnutstudiolo.com.
If you’re wondering, as I was, a "studiolo" is an architecture term for a small private cabinet or study room. The "lo" is a diminutive, like "little studio".Tweet Print
This is pretty much the device I’ve been dreaming of for years. This week Garmin announced a new GPS cycling computer specifically designed for touring and long-distance cyclists. It highlights the mapping and navigating features but does without some of the performance features of the Edge 810 model to keep the price down.
The Edge Touring and Edge Touring Plus provide on and off-road navigation and can even create a loop for you to ride based on your distance and terrain preferences. It comes loaded with maps and points of interest and you can add more as you go. You can also load a route you created with Garmin’s software or your own GPX track.
The waterproof, 2.6-inch touchscreen is designed to be usable even with gloves on and the whole unit weighs less than 100 grams. The rechargeable battery will last up to a claimed 17 hours.
The Edge Touring Plus model adds ANT+ integration for heart rate straps and can even display information from some ANT+ equipped e-bikes. It also includes a barometric altimeter.
The Edge Touring will retail for $250 and the Edge Touring Plus for $300. They will ship this fall according to Garmin.
By Adam Newman
If all goes according to plan, the City of Brotherly Love will begin rolling out its own bike sharing system of 1,500 to 2,000 bikes at 150 to 200 locations in 2014.
Last week the office of Mayor Michael Nutter announced the completion of the Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan and ask the community to notify them of their interest in hosting or sponsoring a bike share station. Residents can even go online and request or nominate a bike share station.
The program is expected to cost $10-$15 million, which will be raised from state and federal grants and private sponsors. The system is not expected to require public funds to operate.
Initial plans call for the bike share to serve an area from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia, from the Navy Yard through Center City and beyond Temple University’s campus in North Philadelphia. The mayor’s office says it expects riders to take up to two million trips per year.
The business plan touts a bike station density of 13.28 stations per square mile in the downtown Zone 1, compared to Washington D.C.’s 8 stations per square mile. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, member signups are expected to start in 2014.
In an editorial, the paper also supported the program:
"Certainly the prospects of the city’s planned bike-sharing program look more promising as more city residents eschew driving. Its launch, expected in the fall of 2014, can’t come too soon. Some 35 other cities already offer bikes for short-term rental, linking commuters with transit stops and tourists with historic and other sites."Tweet Print
By Trina Haynes
As a bike lover and advocate, I enjoy showing off my love for bicycles anywhere and everywhere. I can’t walk into a shindig with my bike as a hat, so I indulge in bicycle related jewelry and accessories. There is a plethora of companies big and small offering cycling-related jewelry these days. You can find recycled inner tube jewelry, stainless steel and glass pendants, blinged-out chain bracelets, upcycled headset necklaces and much, much more.
Today I want to share a few of my favorite and most frequently worn bicycle-related jewelry items. Almost everything handmade I’m a fan of, and if you involve a bike or bike-related product in the design and I will have a hard time controlling the urge to spend.
Elizabeth Klevens makes handmade fused glass, bike mosaic and sterling silver pendants in a multiple of styles. One of my favorites is the circular “Ride Like a Girl ” necklace that goes for $35. You can add in a satin cord with a stainless steel clasp for $10 more. If you’re into mountain biking she has a “Singletrack Mind” in the same cut, just for you. Her gorgeous, handmade necklace pendants range from $35-$75. You can find them here.
Another one of my favorites is Becky Tesch’s handmade, recycled innertube cuff bracelet. This one is cut into a flower design and I have taken such a liking to it, I wear everyday. Dress it up or dress it down, either way it looks pretty swank. She also makes innertube necklaces and earrings, as well as a variety of colored chain bracelets. You can find her wares here.
Last on the list, earrings! I used to only wear earrings on special occasions, but when a friend sent me these innertube earrings cut to look like feathers, I started wearing earrings again just so I could wear these a couple times a week. Unlike real feather earrings, these inner tube ones will, hopefully, not be attacked or eaten by your cat. They are also sturdy enough to handle a helmet strap and not fall apart. I do not know where he got them, only that they are mine now. (Thanks Andrew!) Here is a link to the ones that looks the most similar to mine.
Have a few of your own favorites?!
Normally we’d be thrilled with a nation’s ruler promoting cycling, but in this case we’re not so sure. According to the Independent, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan has ordered the roughly 5 million residents of the small, Central Asian country to buy bikes in preparation for a mass ride on September 1.
Unfortunately for the population, buying new bikes is likely outside their budget. And Berdimuhamedow’s government is hardly one to respect, with widespread discrimination against minorities and the second worst press freedom in the world behind North Korea, according to Reporters Without Borders.
What do you think? Is forcing people to ride bikes a good idea?Tweet Print
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,
Rebecca RuschTweet Print
After losing title sponsor New Belgium Brewing for 2013, the Urban Assault Ride took 2013 off to rebuild and refine its ‘best day on the bike’ that you can imagine: amazing obstacles, great after party, cool people, and the best sponsors (including Bicycle Times).
Now it’s looking for your input on where you’d like to see it stop in its nationwide tour in 2014. Visit the Urban Assault Ride Facebook page, vote for a city (or write one in) and you’ll get a $20 coupon off registration.
So far the leaders are:
- Des Moines
- St Louis
Where do you want it to visit?Tweet Print
By Adam Newman
Thanks to the searing neon paint and single-sided fork, it’s hard not to get noticed on Cannondale’s trippy urban bike. Everywhere I took it, people asked, “What is it?” or “How does it work?” They always seemed surprised when I told them it’s just a bike. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it’s something more.
It starts with 20-inch wheels, in this case laced to a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub in the rear and a Cannondale-specific Lefty hub in the front. The single fork leg—reminiscent of Cannondale’s famous Lefty mountain bike forks—requires a special hub. And before you ask if it’s somehow less safe than a traditional fork, remember that the wheels on your car attach on only one side. This configuration has its plusses and minuses: you can change a flat without removing the wheel, but if you do want to remove the wheel, the brake caliper must be loosened and swung out of the way.
While it might seem like a novelty, the Hooligan’s frame packs some pretty advanced technology into its diminutive size. The cross- bracing design is Cannondale’s trademark Delta V shape that has been applied to its mountain bikes for years, and the tubing itself features some fairly advanced shaping. Add- ing to the versatility, the head tube badge can be removed, and in its place you can install a mounting bracket for a series of bag and basket accessories made by the brand Slide2Go. You can even install a traditional rear rack. The funky, spider-shaped pedals that are included match the dot-matrix paint job.
Perched atop what might be the longest seatpost in the business (520mm), I found myself in a sporty position, perfect for tackling jammed urban streets. Measuring in at 6-foot-2, I’m at the limit of who can reason- ably ride a Hooligan, but I also lowered the seatpost and loaned it to my special lady who is 5-foot-3, and it fit comfortably. Weighing under 25lbs., it’s light enough to carry up the stairs to an apartment and doesn’t take up a lot of space once you get it there.
The small wheels, short wheelbase, and quick steering are great for navigating sidewalks and bike paths, and squeezing between pedestrians on narrow city streets. It’s certainly not a bike I would choose for long-distance rides, but it’s great for zipping around the neighborhood. The three speeds in the internal hub seem to me to be suited for flat areas, and if I owned the bike here in Pittsburgh I would swap out the stock gearing for something lower.
I really see the Hooligan as less like a bike and more like a gadget. The person I envision riding it is less interested in the nuts and bolts of how bicycles work, but is more interested in arriving in style. And that’s something the Hooligan has in spades.Tweet Print
By Adam Newman
Last fall Katie Compton won the World Cup overall on a custom aluminum bike and now that prototype has spawned a new line of bikes for 2014.
The aluminum-only Crockett line is based on Compton’s input, with a lower bottom bracket, slacker head tube, steeper seat tube and the IsoSpeed fork design from the Domane road bike.
The five complete bike line has disc and cantilever options, as well as a frame-only version of each.
It seems from Trek’s 2014 catalog that the Crockett will replace the Ion line, while the Chronos CX bike remains as the only carbon fiber cyclocross bike in Trek’s line. The Crockett 9 has a Shimano Ultegra kit and only comes in rim-brake flavor. The Crockett 7 has SRAM’s new SB-700 shifters with hydraulic disc brakes or Rival shifters on the cantilever model. The Crockett 5 has a Shimano 105 kit on both the disc and cantilever model.
Also expanding this year is the disc-brake CrossRip line. We reviewed the CrossRip Elite back in Issue #22 and now it is joined by standard, Comp and LTD models. The LTD, pictured, has Shimano 105 shifters and Tektro’s HYRD cable/hydraulic hybrid brakes. (We have a pair of those we’re testing now, so watch the mag for a long-term review). The Elite model has a 9-speed Shimano Sora group; the Comp has an 8-speed Shimano Claris group; and the standard Crossrip model has the Claris group, but cantilevers instead of discs.
QBP surprised us over the weekend without the announcement of a new brand aimed at sportsmen. Cogburn Outdoors is the latest brand from the parent company of Surly, Salsa, Foundry and more.
The first product, a fat bike known as the CB4, is an alloy model that shows its family heritage if you look closely, appearing very similar to previous Salsa Mukluk models but with a new top tube. We don’t have all the details of the parts spec yet, but it is shown built with Surly Nate tires, a SRAM 2x drivetrain and Surly’s non-drilled rims.
But what really sets it apart is the RealTree camouflage finish applied by Dynamic Finishes in Kansas City. The non-camo parts are all flat black to avoid glare.
Since it’s designed for hunters and fisherman, they’re going to need a way to haul their gear, and the Scabbard is an aluminum attachment that goes on a rear rack to safely carry a rifle, bow or rod.
No word on pricing or availability yet, but look for more in September.
Unlike ATVs or snow machines, fat bikes allow access to the backcountry without any impact on the habitat.
What do you think? Will sportsmen take to fat bikes?Tweet Print
Trek Bicycle and World Bicycle Relief (WBR) raised a record monthly donation amount through the “Trek Match” initiative. In the month of July, Trek and World Bicycle Relief partnered for a dollar-for-dollar donation matching program that ignited a huge response. With unprecedented support, more than $90,000 was raised in four weeks, which will be doubled by Trek’s matching donation. The money will be used to provide roughly 1,500 bikes for deserving students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs in Africa.
While the initiative relied heavily on social media and web communications, one advocate stood out as Trek Match’s biggest champion. Known throughout the bicycle community as “Fatty”, Elden Nelson of fatcyclist.com, used his popular website as a fundraising vehicle and became key to the success of the initiative. In total, fatcyclist.com raised $39,774 for World Bicycle Relief in the month of July.
The iconic WBR Buffalo Bikes are assembled locally where they are distributed in Africa, providing job opportunities where there is a recognizable need. World Bicycle Relief is working toward a goal of providing bikes for over 50,000 students in rural Africa, as a means to educational access.
By Eric McKeegan
Gazelle is pretty succinct in describing this bike, touting it as the “ultimate family bicycle.” The $2,800 Cabby is a modern take on the wooden box bikes common in the streets of Amsterdam or Copenhagen. My hometown is far different—let’s see how it fared on the hilly and narrow streets I deal with.
First off, this is not a small bike. The wheelbase is huge, and the front wheel, steered with a linkage rod from handlebar to fork, seems very far away at first. Rather than the more common wooden box and steel frame, the Cabby uses aluminum for the frame and heavy-duty vinyl for the cargo box. The aluminum frame saves weight and resists corrosion, and the metal-framed cloth box folds up to fit through doorways. The box is also easily removable for storage.
Every component is selected for practicality: maintenance-free drum brakes, dynamo front light, and an internal 7-speed hub for gearing. A full chain case and skirt guard keep your clothes clean, and the step-through frame makes it easy to dismount or steady the bike when you push it off the center stand. The simple rear wheel lock is perfect for those quick stops when you don’t want to find a suitable object for locking up.
The linkage steering and long wheelbase take some getting used to at first. Low-speed handling can be tricky for the first few rides; I’d recommend some non-kid cargo and an empty parking for a first attempt. Once above walking speed, the Cabby actually feels sporty, at least until the first serious climb. That long wheelbase pays dividends in stability, and swoopy turns, even with two kids onboard, are instinctive and enjoyable.
Once I got the hang of low-speed steering and remembering that the front wheel wasn’t directly below the handlebars, I was very happy with how the bike handled almost every situation, be it low-speed U-turns, dodging potholes, or taking my place in traffic.
The reason I stuck “almost” in that last sentence? Hills. I was strong enough to muscle up just about every hill in town, but the gearing was too steep for my baby mamma. Standing up to climb helped things, but installing a smaller chainring would be the way to go for me. Unfortunately the stock chainring is permanently affixed to the crank. Nothing a trip to your friendly neighborhood bike shop (and some money)can’t fix, but that’s a bummer for a bike at this price.
That was a very minor “almost”—there is also a major one, the brakes. On short trips in my flat neighborhood, the brakes were acceptable, wet or dry. But my first trip down a steep hill had me almost pulling a Fred Flintstone, with levers pulled to the bar and the bike barely slowing. These Shimano roller brakes are not known for their stopping power, and the huge run of cable to the front wheel creates a lot of flex, further weakening them. Swap- ping to compressionless housing would help, but not enough to really make a difference for me. It is unfortunate the fork doesn’t have mounts for a disc brake (or better yet, a disc brake stock). I’ve noticed a lot of Dutch bikes are not equipped with powerful brakes, which is O.K. for flatter areas. I was fine on most of my rides, but if I wanted to get out of my neighborhood, steep hills are a fact of life.
The little bench has three shoulder harnesses; the middle one is used when carrying a single kid to keep the load balanced. The seat is barely padded, so I needed to add some cushions on longer rides—my kids inherited my bony behind. There was plenty of additional room in the box for book bags, groceries, or a big picnic, and the bench comes out for extra cargo space.
The folding box came in handy when running multiple errands. I could pull out the kids, pull the bench, and fold up the box with whatever cargo was inside. A U-lock through the exposed frame corners secured the goods from prying eyes and fingers. The box’s 165lb. capacity was more than adequate for whatever I managed to shove in there.
There are some very practical accessories available for the Cabby, including a rain canopy for the kids, a cover for cargo use, and mounts for an infant seat.
This is a very well-thought-out bike, and one of the few (if not the only) box-style cargo bike that will fit through a 28-inch door. My kids loved it, and my wife and I like riding it. The gearing issue was a minor one, but the brakes are a deal-breaker for me. If your town looks more like a pancake than an EKG read-out, this would be a great family bike.Tweet Print
By Stephen Haynes
In my first month or so on the Swobo Otis, I’ve come to enjoy this bike’s understated aesthetics and ride. This aluminum bike has a lot of functionality and a compliment of modern conveniences at a price ($800) that makes it easy to love.
Smaller, 26-inch wheels make for quick acceleration and nimble handling in traffic or on crowded mix-use trails. A Shimano Nexus 3-Speed hub provides enough range to get up and go from a standstill and stay at a respectable cadence before spinning out.
Rear rack mounts have come in handy and have made the Otis an easy choice for mid-week grocery getting. While I haven’t yet had two fully loaded panniers on the back, the bike hasn’t lost any zeal or handling ability with small loads.
The Otis gets up and over most hills in my neighborhood really easily. I could say something about wider bars, or more gears, but I think that would be silly. This bike provides enough of a low gear to be more than capable in most uphill situations, even with a case of beer tied to the back.
A simple, silver paint job and lack of flashy graphics will appeal to those who wish to remain incognito while out and about, yet will inspire the sticker whores of the world to go berserk. Look closely at the Otis though, and the Swobo branded items become clear, tastefully gracing a few select parts.
I’m enjoying my time on the Swobo Otis and I look forward to the rest of my review period. Check out the full review in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times.
By Karen Brooks
One of the cooler things I’ve seen at DealerCamp is a new bike from Raleigh, the Tamland, designed for gravel racing (or just riding) and as a “killer commuter.”
Its frame is Reynolds 631 steel, recommended for its toughness by Reynolds and custom-butted to be lighter than the standard tubeset. The chainstays are svelte and the fork has a nice rake to it for added compliance.
The geometry was developed specifically for rough roads, with a lower bottom bracket, longer wheelbase, slacker seat tube angle and slightly taller head tube as compared to their road or cyclocross models. Sounds like they got it right.
The Tamland will come stock with TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clement Xplor MSO 40mm tires, with plenty of room for even bigger ones. The rims are 24mm wide give those tires a maximum footprint. The brakes felt great just squeezing them on the stationary bike—I’ll be eager to try some in motion.
There are two models to start with, the 1 and the 2. Pictured here is the 2, with a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain; it will go for $2,400. The Tamland 1 will be $1,600.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride this bike, as the Raleigh crew just barely got this one sample in time to bring to the show. But apparently one of their lucky employees raced it in Raleigh’s Midsummer Nights Cross race on Thursday.
If you’re wondering about the name, Raleigh has been naming its commuter bikes after characters from TV shows and movies. Do you recognize this one?Tweet Print
Editor’s note: Ok, so this is actually a letter to the publisher, but we wanted to share it with other readers and get a discussion going. We’ve received a lot of feedback about the illustration on cover of our latest issue, #24, and we want to know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
I just purchased the new issue of Bicycle Times, which I normally enjoy. The cover artwork is beautiful and initially inspiring to get on a bike and go ride. But I was horrified to realize the mother riding her two kids on the back of her bike was wearing flip flops! What were you and your staff thinking? Flip flops on a bike are dangerous and irresponsible—not only to a single rider, but to anyone else in proximity to the accident waiting to happen. Unbelievably, your fashionable mom is also endangering her children by riding in flip flops, which is inexcusable for someone responsible for a child’s safety.
Bicycle Times has the opportunity and responsibly to educate and promote bike safety. You blew it! Fashion be damned if it’s at the expense of safety or promotes dangerous behavior. Fortunately, the flip-flopper & her kids are wearing helmets, and the kids have on safe shoes. But the more I look at your "creative" cover, the more frustrated I get—the two men on cargo bikes aren’t wearing helmets, and neither are the four other riders illustrated on your cover!
As much as I’ve enjoyed your magazine until now, I don’t want to spend another dollar on a publication that fails to promote bike safety and encourages dangerous riding habits.
A D Martin
Serotta has a bit of a rough go of it lately. The recession, new competition, and increasing overhead meant the company has had cash flow issues in the past few years.
Today the CEO, Bill Watkins, told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News that the company had laid off 40 percent of its workforce and will cease production of its high-end steel, titanium and carbon fiber bikes.
Part of the company had been sold to an investment group last year, and it had recently become part of the Divine Cycling Group, which also owns Blue Competition Cycles and Mad Fiber wheels but Watkins told BRAIN that the promised cash infusion never came.
Serotta has continuously developed new products since its first bike in 1972. The Fondo SG and Pronto SG (pictured here) are two new models that now might never see full production.
By Adam Newman
Titanium occupies a rarified field in the world of cycling: it’s at once both old-fashioned and high-tech. Bikes built from the lightweight metal strike a classic silhouette and earn allocates for their unique ride quality. But it’s cutting edge as well, with modern methods of forming bringing about ever lighter and stiffer frames.
Lynskey has been on the forefront of titanium for more than three decades. The family-run contract business didn’t even make bicycles until one was built as a side project. Fast-forward a few decades and Lynskey‘s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory is the largest builder of titanium bicycle frames in the US, both under their own label and for several other brands.
Titanium is, of course, an expensive material to work with, not only for the cost of raw tubing but for the additional time and tooling it takes to turn those tubes into bicycles. Bending, butting and shaping the tubing is all exponentially more difficult with titanium than steel, thus adding to the cost. (See how advanced it can get in our sister magazine, Dirt Rag.)
Lynskey’s latest bikes attempt to level that playing field. The Silver Series uses straight-gauge tubing, without any fancy bends or shaping, to keep costs down, but they are still "Made in Tennessee, Built To Go Fast.". The three road and two mountain bike models are just $1,299 for a frame. That’s less than many American-made steel frames.
The Viale is the commuter or light tour model that can handle a little of everything. The frame is built with a little extra room for larger tires (700x30c) and fenders, and even has rack mounts. The brakes are mid-reach calipers, and mount to a Bontrager Switchblade carbon fork out front. For $2,600 you get a Shimano 105 build kit with Shimano wheels, a compact crankset and an FSA cockpit.
Pictured here are a set of one-off, prototype titanium fenders and a rack that are not included, but Lynskey wanted us to give them a good thrashing to see if they work in the real world (so far so good). Want a set? Sorry, no word yet on if they’ll make it to production.
Anyway, the Viale has all the attributes I look for in a good workhorse bike. The geometry is relaxed enough for all-day rides or randonneuring and the larger tires and geometry make it far more versatile. If you want to jump into your weekly paceline ride, ditch the rack and don your lycra, it’s ready to go.
The ride quality reminds me of classic steel: not too stiff, not too soft. The frame feels a bit more lively than I expected as well—none of the muted vibe you get from chromoly but instead with a zing more like an aluminum frame.
Look for my long-term review after some long-range rides in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Subscribe now if you want to read it.
By Karen Brooks
Between their excursions to “adventure by bike,” the folks at Salsa have been busy making improvements to their stable. We recently covered the 2014 Horsethief and Spearfish, which both got the Split Pivot treatment. At SaddleDrive in Snowbasin, Utah, they also unveiled a host of other changes to the 2014 model lineup.
First up is a bike that is truly fat, yet weighs less than its brethren: the Beargrease Carbon.
The geometry has been tweaked to essentially “feel more like a mountain bike” and also shift the rider’s weight rearward, via shorter chainstays and a new Whiteout carbon fat fork with 51mm offset. Salsa says this also serves to get a better steering response in snow, keeping the front wheel from pushing sideways and allowing it to be guided around a turn.
It will come in an XX1 or X9 versions. The XX1 is pictured here, with sweet graphics in bright green on matte black. It will also sport the Alternator dropouts (pictured below with the Fargo). The Beargrease’s path is diverging further from that of the Mukluk — becoming even more of a dedicated snow racer, while the Mukluk is for exploring at your own pace.
Mike Riemer, Salsa’s marketing manager, let it be known that the bike is suspension-corrected for a 100mm travel, 51mm offset suspension fork for fat wheels, something that doesn’t exist — yet. A full-suspension version could also possibly appear someday…
The complete bike weighs around 26lbs., pretty darn light for something that looks so… substantial. I got a chance to ride it a bit on singletrack, and really appreciated its weight savings over other fat bikes — between that and its improved handling, it felt kind of like it was filled with helium. If I had one, I’d love to set it up tubeless for ultimate float.
Next is a bike that started with a cool concept and just keeps getting better: the Fargo. The new version looks and feels like a cohesive package.
The Alternator dropouts are a rocking type that give 17mm fore-aft adjustment. Different plates will be available to accept a standard quick-release, 142x12mm thru-axles, or Rohloff hubs, and also for dedicated singlespeeding. Note that the non-drive side has just two bolts—the top one is also one of the brake caliper bolts.
The fork is a new carbon one, called the Firestarter, and the frame is corrected for a 100mm suspension fork.
The Woodchipper handlebars felt natural and right on this bike, as did the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. I didn’t get to ride it nearly as much as I wanted to (right on across the state and beyond), but the little bit of dirt and gravel I did experience left me impressed.
Editor’s note: We were tipped off to this story by Jeff Jones, creator and namesake of the Jones mountain bikes. Olsen rode his Jones 2,858.75 miles to finish fifth in the 2013 Tour Divide from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, N.M.
Words and photos by James Olsen.
Just over a week ago I arrived at Antelope Wells after 17 days and about 5 hours of the most intense riding experience of my life. I’m back at home now, I’ve been meaning to get something written down for a few days and it’s only now I’m starting to accept that it’s in the past, no longer waking in the night feeling that it’s time to get up and roll along the trail for a while, warming up before settling in for another long day in the saddle. The Tour Divide was everything I went out there for, it was beautiful, intense and at times almost crushingly hard and it got the best out of me.
Firstly, my bike and kit. I bought a Jones Titanium Spaceframe a couple of years ago and it changed my riding. Really, this wasn’t just new-bike love. Longer rides went by in comfort, the handling was addictive and motivated me to ride almost every day and the comfort meant my rides got longer and my fitness improved noticeably.
I bought a steel diamond frame with truss fork for holidays and bikepacking trips and found it was the perfect tool for the job. Comfy and efficient but also a huge amount of fun downhill—a bike-packer ride that wasn’t ever dull or a compromise when we found unexpected gems of trails. Not once did I think “If only I had my susser here…” on those trips. For the Divide there really isn’t a bike I’d have felt so confident in.
I used my steel diamond frame for the frame-bag space and the Ti truss fork for less weight–it all counted. The Velocity P35 rims let me use my tires at maybe 17-18 psi at times when the washboard roads were beating me up, or simply when I wanted to roll more easily along the rougher trails. Others were sticking to 40+ psi and thinner, lighter rims and I think I had an advantage there. I’m certain I was getting less beat up than other riders.
I used Geax Saguaro 2.2 tires that do roll very well and work well on both loose or hard ground but I think a bigger tyre would have been a wiser choice. Fast-rolling 2.4 tires aren’t so widely available but perhaps the tread is less important at lower pressures. On the roads an Ardent 2.4 at 40psi would’ve been slower than the Saguaro, but on balance it may have been faster or comfier over the rougher sections. I saw a couple of Surly 29×3.0 Knard-equipped bikes on the route and eyed up their tires enviously.
A Ti Loop H-bar was the perfect bar for this kind of ride, plenty of space for lights, computer, route maps etc as well as the grip options. A good number of racers were using them this year.
I used a single 34t oval chainring and a 12-28 six-speed modified cassette on a Hope singlespeed hub, using three single-speed cogs and three Shimano cassette cogs stacked up. This was a really hard-wearing combo in the gears I used 80 percent of the time (16, 19 and 22 rear) and I was confident 2,800 miles wouldn’t put too much wear on them. The shifting wasn’t as slick as a normal cassette but it was ok, like a singlespeed with a few options either side of my usual 34-19 ratio.
The straight chain line and front single ring would have been a benefit in the infamous Divide mud, but it was my downfall on a fast road section at the end. A triple may have been a wiser move, certainly if I’d known it was going to be generally so fast and dry I would have fitted one. Shifting was done by a bar-end shifter with a Paul Component mount and I used XTR v-brake levers on BB7 brakes with 160mm and 180mm rotors. Pre-greased cables were a little sticky at first but ran smooth the whole way and I only used one set of pads. My wheel set uses the same spokes throughout so I only carried 2 spare spokes. All my kit came to around 11 lbs., just under 2 lbs. for my sleeping kit on the bars, 3 to 4 lbs. of clothes and waterproofs in the seat pack, the rest was a camelback for food and water and in my frame bag that had extra space for a full 2-liter water bladder if needed.
As for the ride, the Tour Divide isn’t that well known outside mountain bike circles but the number of entrants has increased sharply the last few years and blue-dot watching (trackleaders.com) has added a new spectator dimension to races like this. This year there were 140 or more of us, mostly gathered at the YMCA Lodge in Banff on the morning of June 14, heading south.
I guess most of us had discovered bikepacking in recent years, seen “Ride the Divide” or read Jill Homer or Paul Howard’s books and been hooked on the idea. Some had been planning the race for a couple of years, others for less time. I fell into the “less time” group. At New Year’s I decided I wanted to do something committing on the bike and the Tour Divide was big and exciting enough to really motivate me (fear is a good motivator I found).
Multiple-race-winner Matthew Lee’s posts on Divide racing attitudes and ethics on a forum clinched it for me, it was a race that seemed to appeal when racing rarely does so. For five months my spare time was focussed on little else. There was no race experience in my past to base any confidence on but I had done plenty of reasonably long rides and bivi trips in the past. I feel at home when alone and outdoors and I love sleeping under the stars. I felt confident in my self-sufficiency and felt that I could answer a reasonably confident “yes” to the “Are you up to this?” check-list on the Tour Divide site. Or at least, ‘yes, after some preparation’.
I also had found the perfect bike for my long rides and overseas trips in my Jones bike. What I needed to do was get myself in shape for the demands of the race, finalize my kit and decide on some kind of strategy.
I wanted to race in a certain style, influenced by what I’d read about the original Great Divide race and Matthew Lee’s approach to Divide racing. I really wanted the Divide to be a tunnel that I entered into with the only way back to home comforts being the finish line, or retirement from the race. That meant (to me) racing without a phone or GPS, being 100 percent reliant on myself for bike servicing or repairs and I wanted to sleep out trail-side every night and find a rhythm that worked with daylight hours and my body clock to maximize rest or minimize physical and mental disruption.
The Divide route was to be an open-air experience and roofs were off-limits between start and finish. I think a few more storms would have tested that aim towards the end, but I’m happy that the stormy nights were times when I pushed on out of town in the evenings, set up camp in the dark downpour and lay safe under my small tarp as the lightning lit up the fabric every few moments. Other nights, the storm threatened, tested my resolve then backed down and let me rest with only a light drizzle that couldn’t disturb my coma-like sleep.
Before the race I said that these ideals or ethics may cost me a few places but racing style was important to me, I had some kind of “clean, onsight” kind of climbing ethics in mind that could only really be done once as a rookie on the route. Ask me about ethics after I mis-read my cues again or rode miles past a turn and spent a stressful time uncertain whether it was the right one and you’d have got a different angle on Divide racing! GPS is a good thing if you want to go fast and phones are a faster way to find out about fire diversions, but adventure and uncertainty is also part of the experience.
I think I had a couple of advantages in the race that made up for a lack of race experience and helped keep me in the top five most of the race. One was being happy to sleep trail-side anywhere and in almost any weather which saved me time, the other was having reliable equipment. I was confident in my bike and gear as I’d used it in roughly a Divide’s worth of distance of bikepacking and touring trips before without a single issue. Some of my kit was fairly new but simply a lighter or simpler version of what I’d used before. Some other things I’d do differently next time having completed the race, but that’s always the case with an experience of that magnitude.
The training went well and I enjoyed the long overnight and weekend rides I did in preparation. By the time the race came around I was nervous, scared almost, but raring to go. If you love long rides and existing with the minimum of possessions the Great Divide is a wonderful place to be. Remote in places but rarely dauntingly so, it’s a route where you’ll often feel very small under dramatic skies and expansive views. The feeling of open space is simply huge. If it wasn’t a race there would have been times when I would have got off my bike and just sat or stood in the middle of these great spaces, trying to take it all in. But it was a race and that added a pressure I never predicted.
I’d ended up in the top 10 on day two; when Billy Rice (a northbound rider nearing Banff, who would then turn around to ride south, completing the first TDR double last week) stopped to say hi and tell me there weren’t many ahead of me I realized I was making my way towards the front of the field. After that there was no letting up, I wanted to do well. If I was going to be happier at a slower speed I could tour the route another time.
Naturally I found myself close to other riders on different strategies and with different strengths but the Divide evens things out soon enough. Racing so closely with Alex Harris for over 2,000 miles taught me a lot as well as stretched my ability and my mental strength, I found I could pedal longer and harder than I expected but the lack of sleep and need to compete with a very experienced racer/adventurer was tough, it wore my nerves down at times but it also stopped me slipping into default tourer mode when I felt tired or close to being beaten by the scale of the route.
I don’t think we were ever more than a few hours apart and all I could go on were tire tracks. If there weren’t any signs of Alex’s tire tracks ahead of me, every time I stopped for any reason I was looking behind me and the pressure built. I learned soon after riding with Alex for the first time that he had experience and a source of strength that I would find it hard to compete with when things got difficult, and it was simply a case of when that happened, not if it would.
Things got difficult after La Manga pass, going into New Mexico. Alex and I were low on food but had eaten well in Platoro, 30 miles or so earlier. We were headed into the first of New Mexico’s wilderness stretches, the Cruces Basin, a very beautiful area that we first saw through rain and a fog of hypoglycaemia as we separately tried to make 800 or so calories each last well over a hundred miles of mixed ground. At times it was among the hardest terrain of the route and all of it was at high altitude.
We both knew it’d be hard as we went in, we’d briefly debated the wisdom of going off-route for 30 miles for food or the ethics of hitching off-route. I didn’t want to hitch or delay but I also wanted food. I remembered Aidan Harding’s comments about considering how a racer-to-be would feel when much-needed resupply points were closed, leaving another half-day’s ride to the next point. I thought it was something I could cope with.
Bravado was called out as Alex decided to head into the wilderness. I think the racer in him knew it could be a pivotal moment in our two-man race. Maybe he was just calling my bluff, I don’t know. But I had to follow. As I pushed uphill in the rain to save what little energy I had only ten miles in, he slowly rode away and I felt alone for the first time in the race. I’d enjoyed riding alone for so many miles before that and at times I wanted to break away from Alex simply to ride alone again, but after the first week’s fatigue I wasn’t up to putting more than relatively brief, almost futile gaps between us and I also enjoyed his company.
The Divide racers’ dilemma perhaps, you need a strong head to race the entire route solo, refusing any company. Further up the trail I found half of the small bag of trail mix that a couple on quad bikes had given us earlier. Alex had split it and left it clearly on the trail… “This really was half, honest! : ) ” it said on the bag. Riding alone was losing its appeal, tough times are better faced as a team but this was a solo race and more so now than before it really felt like a serious, solo race for me.
Dark, irrational thoughts closed in and I thought I may end up losing a few places as I walked, then stumbled, for miles and miles to the next potential food supply but my decision had been made and only I could affect the outcome or take the blame.
It turns out that years of long rides and often-poor pace management had taught me a lot about managing “the bonk” and by eating a tiny amount every twenty minutes I eventually stabilized and perhaps much of my lethargy was due to altitude, or caution-induced. I then had a reckless moment when I ate more than half of my only cliff bar in one go and as the sun went down my energy returned. I caught Alex shortly after turning my lights on and we rode together until we emerged onto a five-mile road climb between the wilderness/forest park areas at around 11 p.m.
It felt like a fairly lucky escape but there were still 50 or more miles to go before any hope of resupply. I was pretty sure that the first possible source of food would be shut anyway, as often had been the way. “Don’t get your hopes up”. I chose to bivi there and rest despite saying earlier that pushing on through the night was a good plan, since by then it was a clear night and getting colder and shivering costs calories. My thin but cosy down bag and cushy Neo-air mat was calling again. Alex had only a bivi bag and down jacket so he pushed on to the next shelter which turned out to be only six miles away. We remained within an hour or less of each other but all I knew the next morning was that I was following his tracks again.
The next day in the town of Abiqui I bought the Divider’s breakfast of two double cheeseburgers each with fries, a large milkshake and large Coke but only after being unable to get any cash at a post office and riding past two cash-only shops over the previous 30 miles. I was also caught at the post office by Liam Crowley who may not have got the friendly hello he deserved from this tired, run-down rider. Sorry Liam… He then gave me a spare bar in a generous offer that I won’t forget.
From that point on, I saw a lot more of Liam. He’d been behind us for almost a week but something had lit his fire and he was riding well, he’d closed a half-day or more gap with what must have been a tough all-nighter across the Cruces Basin from Platoro, a big effort that didn’t seem to cost him in the long term.
In the final miles of our Tour Divide we passed each other as we napped separately for an hour or so or paused at food or water points within 125 miles of the finish. I wanted to ride right through to the finish but sleep deprivation was building and mild, continual hallucinations affected me and falling asleep on the bike for brief moments happened too regularly. Waking and swerving across the road without crashing showed how in tune you can get with your bike after 17 days of almost continual riding but there was a real risk that I’d crash out of the race within sight of the finish.
I had an hour and a half’s sleep under a tree as light rain continued to fall and was back on the bike soon after 4:30 a.m. As dawn broke across the beautiful final desert stretch I was riding strongly but following in Alex and Liam’s tire tracks. Passed Separ, I saw no tracks and got my head down for the last 65 miles of road to Antelope Wells. Tears welled in my eyes as I realized I really was going to finish the Tour Divide, relief that it was almost over was mixed with sadness of a journey’s end, something magical grasped.
I thought I may be about to finish third, unthinkable to me really despite having spent a number of days between third and fourth position and as good as that thought felt, I tried not to dwell on it. It just didn’t seem possible. When I saw two dots behind me on the horizon I upped my pace to my limit, I felt good that morning and thought I could hold the pace for another 35 miles to the finish but whether I actually could, I’m not sure.
My 34×12 top gear was good for a speed that was about as high as a rider with 2,800 miles in their legs could maintain, but Alex slowly reeled me in. I sat up and we regrouped as Liam joined us. For a few miles the pace dwindled and we joked about all of us being caught again as we slowed up – half seriously, as we knew Brian Pal (top US rider that year) had been riding strongly and gaining ground in the last few days.
A truck drove past and pulled into the road side. A big guy in a checked shirt, Texan hat and suspenders got out and stood in the center of the road. His pose was pure wild-west, ready to draw. As we rolled up to him he smiled and held out cans of cold condensation-dripping Coke. Lloyd and Roger Payne, thank you for the best welcome committee possible. Racing was off the cards as we drank two cold Cokes each, then it went back on the agenda as a final sprint was mentioned.
From the one mile out roadside marker.
We were at mile three and I was itching to go. I did feel good, but I was tired enough not to realize that my 34×12 top gear wasn’t going to get me past either Liam or Alex on a flat road. But finishing as racers was the only fitting way to finish, there wasn’t to be any joint-placings among us.
By the time we wound up the sprint, I was back in 5th spot watching the others ride away over the last few hundred yards. It wasn’t a welcome sight yet somehow places mattered less to me then. In the early days I was elated to be top 10, as I moved up the field the only place that mattered was the one I held then and the racing had motivated the best riding I’d done. Ranking mattered less to me than how we’d ridden and coped with the challenges, racing all the way yet happy to ride together when our timing and pace matched.
I’d stuck to my no outside-influence bike service and sleep-out-every-night plans and had nothing but pride and satisfaction for how the race had gone. I’d finished, after all. As much as I’d have turned myself inside out to have got third place, Alex truly deserved his podium spot and at the time I’d have traded that cliff bar with Liam for a place any day. The 17 days had gone by in a blur of huge vistas and wide-eyed discovery, tiredness and endorphins and massive appetites. I’d ridden in sublime places with great people and seen how welcoming small-town American people could be toward tired, smelly bike racers with accents they rarely could place. I’d met Kirsten at Brush Mountain Lodge and Megan and Clay at the Toaster house for not much more than an hour or two and it had felt like I’d known them for years. All the fatigue and pain that was to follow as my body went into a minor breakdown a few hours after finishing were worth it.
And I’m looking forward to tomorrow – unboxing my Jones, simply lubing the chain and riding my local trails again.
See more of James’ photos from his trip in his Flickr gallery.Tweet Print