Sponsored Story- Civia Cycles asks: Where do we start with ebikes?

Hello Bicycle Times readers! Welcome to this sponsored post. Yes, this content is provided by Civia Cycles, and written by Matt Pacocha. Matt has some good ideas about E-bikes. Take a moment to check it out, and help us pay the bills!… Ed.

E-bikes are everywhere.

Or they will be soon, here’s why.

I live at 9,000 feet. Last week, my wife and I did a social ride with some new friends. We just moved to a mountain town with our two sons to partake in small-town living with easy access to what we love to do: riding in the summer; skiing in the winter.

I digress from my personal situation. As we finished our ride with friends and rolled up to one of our favorite eateries after our human-powered ride, we noticed two e-bikes out front and we sat down next to the owners. These two had just ridden to 11,600ft over nearly 30-miles with 2,500ft+ of climbing… in 4 hours.

Mind you the riders were a couple in their 60s. This wasn’t the gnarly, extreme, picture that jumps into most established ‘riders’ heads when they think of ebikes tearing up their beloved pedal-bike trails. Nor were they the type that would bob and weave through traffic like a picture ebike anti-advocates may paint. No, these riders were absolutely going slower than most fit cycling enthusiasts, but the point is, they were out there doing it.

There I think. Technology doesn’t need techno. E-bikes can be easy listening; we just need to start somewhere. We need to start talking about them and we need to start thinking about how and where they fit. What if Lyle Lovett had an ebike… guarantee he wouldn’t have written a song about a boat, and that’s about as far as you can get from the adrenalin infused techno image of that most of us may think about when someone says ‘ebike’, especially those of us who haven’t had a chance to ride or understand them yet.

Ebikes can be about new beginnings. They’re a solution. They give people a chance to commute when they think it’s too far. They provide people with health issues the freedom to get out and feel the wind in their hair again. They’re about giving new riders the courage they need to venture out of the driveway and beyond the neighborhood. And they’re going to help us all stay in our sport longer. So where do we start?

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Civia Cycles may be a place to start.

This city bike brand is just entering the ebike category, and they’re bringing some new ideas. Civia’s new Parkway offers a place to start for both riders and shops that are new to and curious about ebikes.

First off, they fit into a category that no-one can argue—the city category where ebikes fit easily. Here, they make sense. Here, they’re for those of us who need the courage or the range that an electric assist can offer. They can help get us get there on time and without being sweaty. They can help us come back from injury or those years of neglect that catch up with you in your 40s and 50s. They make getting back on a bike attainable, regardless of your need for an assist.

Civia’s Parkway is attainable, too, both step over and step thru models hit a price that’s well under $3,000USD. These specific bikes are also easy to ride and live with. Case in point Parkway is roughly 5-10-pounds lighter than anything it competes with, and it’s equipped with a power plant from Bosch’s new Active Line. This new motor is Bosch’s smallest and quietest to date; offering smooth power delivery and a top speed of 20mph, which keeps it within the ‘Class 1’ ebike designation—within the realm of human performance—and without limits for use on bike paths or other regulated metro areas.

On the dealer side, Civia Cycles is available through nearly any reputable bike shop in the United States as they’re distributed by Quality Bicycle Products, the largest distributor of bicycle parts and accessories in North America. This is worth noting for a couple of reasons, but the highlights include readily available parts and support by a brand that will stand behind the product (no Kickstarter or obscure Euro brand gamble here) in the US.

So where do ebikes fit for you?

We don’t have the answer, but before you write them off, try one. See what an ebike can give you the courage to do.

Get more info about ebikes and Civia Cycles at www.civiacycles.com

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Ride Like A Mongolian with Grant Peterson

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By Grant Peterson

When Genghis Khan and the other 800-year old Mongolians rode horses in battle, they were isolated enough from the gallop to shoot arrows with half a chance of hitting foes.

Good form and good shot, Genghis! 

For a thousand years, Mongolians have been the smoothest riders in the world, the most at home on a horse. Horses are their lives—always have been—and even now they start riding at age two. By five they ride care-free, smooth as Kessler whiskey, one hand on a rein, the other flailing the giddyup switch as they glide over the steppe unaffected by the churning horse legs below.

A Mongolian’s horse is a bit bigger than a pony, and with stout legs to handle the rough-ground galloping without twisting its ankles and knees. To prepare the horse for riding, the rider lays down a woven horsehair pad, made by specialty Mongolian craftsmen. It’s cushy, waterproof, and breathable, and water runs through it like it does through a plastic pot scrubber, so it can’t get soggy like a cowboy blanket.

On top of that goes a saddle that looks wrong but works great. A Mongolian saddle is nothing at all like the long, broad, shallowly dipped saddles favored by the Marlboro Man and John Wayne. Wayne just ambled along with his cows, sitting on the saddle of his Hollywood horse like a topply sack of rice.

The Mongolian saddle evolved for the athletic, Mongolian style riding required to chase down foes and herd wild Mongolian horses on the steppe. This saddle is short, deep, and U-shaped. Wayne wouldn’t have fit. The front part of the U is the pommel, (ancient Latin for fruit or apple), the equivalent of the knobby apple-sized handle on a cowboy saddle (but it has another function too, coming up). The rear of the U is the cantle, an old word for corner. Mongolian riders use short stirrups, which allow them to stand high above the valley of the U, even with bent knees. Their articulated legs tense and relax as needed to soak up some of the bumps, and the big air gap between their crotch and the bottom of the U gives the horse something to bounce up into without banging the plumbing. The high pommel and cantle keep them centered on the horse. If Mongolians rode this way on a cowboy-type saddle, they’d flop forward and flip back. To complete the Mongolian system, they put metal studs on the seat of the saddle — an idea, it’s said, that Genghis Khan came up with to keep his team riding high and smooth and fast.

This isn’t trivia or irrelevant history. If you ride a bicycle on trails, it couldn’t be more relevant.

There are two ways to look at a trail. When speed or stunts are goals, you see the trail as your arena, and the earth’s texture as the enemy. You push your limits, so you armor up with a technologically advanced uni-purpose bike, and wear armored motocross-style clothing just in case. The mountain bike you ride has bump-nullifying mechanicry so you can ride careless and rough and pay less for it. That’s the point of modern mountain bike technology. To most riders it’s a plus, and it that becomes their style.

When travel, exploration, and fun are your goals, you see the trail as an ally that gives you access to beautiful distant places and makes getting there possible and fun.

Can you ride like a Mongolian on a suspended bike and combine the benefits of mechanical and organic suspension to reach some kind of super smooth nirvana? Only hypothetically. While Red Bull acrobats must combine them to even survive their “rides,” but when you or any other traveler rides on trails, it’s more likely you’ll sit lower, stiffen some, and grab the bike harder, while the technology kicks in below you. The bike you ride affects how you ride it. A bike designed for aggressive riding tends to bring that out. You go faster over rougher terrain because that’s what the bike was designed for.

To ride your bike like a Mongolian rides a horse, you need an unsuspended bike. It’s the better teacher because it selects and reinforces good technique, and gives immediate feedback when you’re blowing it.

Down a bumpy trail, stand on the pedals like a Mongolian in stirrups to create a pocket of protected air between saddle and crotch. If the descent is steep, lean a bit back, and squeeze the flared rear of the saddle with your thighs. That flare is like the Mongolian saddle’s cantle, just rotated 90 degrees. Then you can half sit on the saddle not on your crotch, but with your upper inner thighs. By varying the squeezing force with your thighs, and shifting weight from pedals to saddle, you fine-tune the shock absorption. Your flexing legs will soak up some absorb shock. Your bike saddle has no pommel, but the handlebar serves that same purpose. You might as well be a Mongolian.

On a steep descent, it helps to lower the saddle a few inches, push against the handlebar (your pommel), then sit on your thighs and hang your butt low off the back of the saddle — to weight the rear wheel for better braking. You’re playing the bike like an instrument. Your body stays loose and your head stays steady as the bike bounces between the trail and you, the shocks being absorbed by air, thigh fat, and articulating body joints, like a Mongolian on a horse.

When the climb or descent is too steep, don’t see it as a challenge to overcome. Get off and escort your horse up or down it. After a lot of strain riding, nothing feels better than a nice bike-walk. Mongolians walked their horses sometimes, to rest their legs, and you can walk your bike to rest yours. Bike-walking is so underrated.

Grant Peterson is the proprietor of Rivendell Bicycle Works. Rivendell makes bikes for Mongolian-style riding, so you can see why he’s telling you all this. -Ed.

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Youth Bike Summit comes to New York

We believe in the capacity of youth to lead.
We believe in the power of the bicycle as a catalyst for positive social change.
We believe in the importance of a diverse, multi-cultural and equitable movement.
We believe when youth ride bikes, our communities are healthier and more sustainable.
We believe that sharing & learning together will make each of us stronger.

Right there are some core values we can all share. Making the world a better place. So Bicycle Times is more than happy to share this press release for the Youth Bike Summit!

YBS 2019 postcard

The Youth Bike Summit (YBS) is a 3-day national conference bringing together students, educators, advocates, researchers, policymakers and community leaders in order to: gather and share ideas; give youth a voice, and; encourage civic engagement and advocacy.  Through workshops, presentations, keynote speakers, discussion, and visioning, we transform dialogue into action. Right?

The last Youth Bike Summit, hosted by Phoenix Bikes in 2016 attracted 500 youth, educators and activists from around the country. The next event will be hosted by Bike New York in Queens, NYC Feb 15-17th.  There is a lot of excitement here, so it promises to be just as larger or larger!

That’s it, kids, short and sweet! Now click these…

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Bama Time! Thoughts on trikes and a FrankenSurly

And now, for your amusement, our roving sentinel of sanity ponders life, tricycle love, and a Surly you’ll never be able to buy. -Ed.
By Chris “Bama” Milucky

The steel-ular seat of my tricycle always felt cold under my jorts-clad butt cheeks. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was at 6 or maybe 7, and not because I had a development issue, but because I had an issue with development. I didn’t feel the need to learn how to ride a bike. I was happily hunkered down on the trike.
I remember rolling the rubber-wound wheel on that red and white wonderfully rickety rust wagon all the way down the crummy concrete driveway of my sweet Alabama home. It was pretty scary and in all the right ways. I’d pedal around and watch the humid summer sun heat my skin even under the shadows of the oaks, melting my mind smoothly into a self-reflecting syrup. Why would anyone walk away from the working wheels of three-dom and pick up a bike with their delicate KneeCaptains locked in the shackles, cranium cheering for Skid Row!? I was beyond content on that tricycle– I was transcendental.
Eventually, parental guidance intervened and my folks brought home a two-wheeler for me. With training wheels a’ gunnel, I guess it was a 4wheeler. Either way, I still got around, and my little sister got her turn on the Radio Flyer, aka, MINE, specifically, “that’s still MINE!”
Just as on the trike, I mapped my bike rides in meditation, never in miles or blocks from the house. I never counted cross streets or corridors in a quest to chart my progress. I rode the bicycle to relieve the rope-knots wrestling my mind, and when I found that inner peace, when wonder had replaced reason, that’s when I could hear the woodpeckers, smell the freshly cut grass, and let the crawdads hold me captive until the cloudy moonlight cadence of cicadas went off like a metronome perfectly timed to the flicker of fireflies who’s green heinie’s glowed almost bright enough to illuminate the red Kool-aide stains on my t-shirt.
Now an adult, I still don’t track my rides in minutes or miles, or even in days, or years. I remember my saddle time by life chapters and colored feelings. I can remember the distinct dirt smell of 18 Road in Fruita when I was 18 and had violent sideburns, just as well I can remember the soft spongy moss on Mt Hood the year my Mom died, or odd sandy rocks on Long Island singletrack I discovered while on tour with Santa Cruz Bicycles. I have no idea how many times I rode my bike last week. Or where I went, what I did, or who I saw.

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This particular bike used to be a Surly Straggler, size medium, fitting 27.5″ rotate-ers, but things have changed. The frame was given to me by a friend and came with a super custom headtube which looks to be wire-welded by a sophomore student at the Voc/Tech school. Not bad, but not good. I’m guessing it’s about 70 degrees, because I endo’ed pretty easily on a stack of logs, kinda like you would have done on a late 90s Trek with bar-ends and canti brakes. I’m not complaining; I’m just telling you how it is. It’s not a super slack mountain bike angle, but it is trusty enough to try some things your friends would wanna watch.
The fork is a fine specimen as well. She came with a through-axle that was about two inches too long and cost me a box of Dremmel wheels to make fit. The fork is definitely steel and lots of it, too. Weight? I’m gonna say 1.8lbs, with Price Is Right rules where if you guess too high, you’re out. It’s good, though. I like the fork. Maybe Surly made it, maybe not. Don’t know. Who knows? Who cares? I spray-painted it pink.
Without a spec sheet, I had a hellacious time connecting the fork to the frame, and none of the five friendly bike shops in beautiful Boulder, Colorado had what I called for, so I phoned up to Cane Creek in North Cackalacky. There was a little bit of a language barrier– not at all because of a drawl– I was on the line with an engineer who wanted measurements and all I had was a handful of adjectives like, “One and one eighth-ish”. Patience prevailed, and they sold me the right size headset on the first try. Slick!
 
The bottom bracket shell measured 68mm, so “if” I had any old bike stuff in the basement, I’d be set to jet. I did not. I don’t even have a basement. I did find a new 73mm crankset and guessed that two, drive side 2.5mm spacers would make for a decent chain line. I don’t know if yinzers know anything about chain lines and bb spacing but it used to be a hot topic and getting it right was something to be proud of: I feel good about myself. Ask me about it sometime, but don’t nerd out on numbers too hard, yah feel me? Don’t chill my mellow.
The wheelset is also wacky. Not a lot of 650b stuff out there, and even less carries a Derby-rating. I needed a 15mm front // 135mm QR rear. Flotsam and jetsam all the way, and completely cutting Craigslist out of the question. ‘Spent a solid Saturday morning making moves, wheelin’, and dealin’, but things came together, and this SRAM hodgepodge seems sturdy and pretty fast. My favorite luddite gave me a thumbs down on the 24 spoke-count, but I don’t think it’ll ever take a truing wrench. I think it’ll last forever. Don’t tell the anyone at SRAM I said this, but when it comes to rim jobs, I like the way they move.
All of the tire reviews for gravel tires said Brand Y, Model Z was really nice. It’s not very helpful to have everything rated 4/5 stars. I just guessed on these 47c WTB Byways. I’d used 38c Surly Knards on a previous 650b Straggler, and they didn’t have quite enough Rambo to get me through an impromptu trail-ride; I knew I wanted a little more under the hood. The 47c Byways seemed like something that’d look good under the fenders of a 4wd Eagle sedan, but you don’t know until you try. At 45psi, they do the job on both pavement and singletrack. 30 pounds is risky, and 60 would work if you’re paranoid. Personally, I like to party. At 45 pounds, I’m pretty sure I can do what I want and with an attitude like that, you know I deserve a fist full of black eyes, so bring it.
The Byways corner much better than the cyclocross tires of yesteryear. They’re pretty light. They pumped up (tubeless style) with a floor pump, and I haven’t popped one yet. Gonna white-out the name and Sharpie “MYWAYS” on the sidewall.
I wish I could be more specific than that, but I really only notice when things suck, and these shoes fit.. yeah, ferries wear boots, and ya gotta believe me.
The brakes brake, the shifter shifts, and a Brooks sits atop the whole lot, proudly saluting any weather, whether or not I come here or go there.
 
Done with the digits, so how’s she ride? Sunday driver, 100%. Way too nice to take out for a night on the town, but perfect for the morning after when wooly boogers are stuck to my lip and I can’t shake the cobwebs.
Even though 2wheelers are good for my emotions and psycho-health, it can be difficult for me to saddle up and get out for for a spin, but this bike, which I’m now calling the Millennial Falcoon, is inspirational. She makes me wonder where different roads go. This bike hits me like a fresh pad of paper and a perfectly sharpened #2 Ticonderoga pencil. I feel excited to get out and do my mental exercises. It coasts down hills quietly, and she goes up pavement pretty well, too. She’s slower than a Cat 4 training ride, but nothing goes that fast. I dunno what drugs they’re getting away with on the Tour these days, but Category 4 might as well be referred to as the Fully Unlimted Nitromethane Class, or FUNC for short, but hey– the hyperdrive on the Millennial Falcoon is permanently out of order. Sorry. She’s not stabled and fed for racing. But we all know Joe Walsh’s Maserati never went 185. Don’t chew worry, this machine’s plenty fast. She has enough ammo to nuke anything you got: collarbones, arm rods, knuckleheads alike. Show her a dirt road, and she’ll put bugs in your teeth. She’s about the same speed on dirt roads as on pavement, which is pretty and amazing (pretty amazing). This bike has what it takes to find the magicalators and mysterious abandonment, and as far as I know, that was the whole point of the original mountain bike: you supply the fitness and skills, and the bike is simply an instrument. Your feelings are the notes. Your life is the song.
I realize this review is sort of for something you can’t buy, but reviews are really only a wayside story from a sideways school. You gotta do a lap on the menu. You have to have your own experiences before you can pick your fav. Here’s my suggestion: try a bunch of hobbies until you find one you like. Enjoy the feeling of not knowing what you’re doing, because you can only learn once, and after you know what you’re doing, you’ll never know anything else. Also: Kiss with your eyes open.
The Falcoon has a good vibe. She feels good in my hands– through my palm-sweat, I can imagine what the ground feels like, almost like wearing flip-flops in the desert sand. Nomesane? It’s like, I can step on Lego’s without crying, but I’ll know if I bump a snake. That’s a good quality for a head-trip. You wanna be aware of your surroundings but not feel threatened by them.  I’d say this bike is more than adequate, it’s thorough (Thoreau?).

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Bama’s Bio: Hi, I’m Bama. I believe that bicycles, motorcycles, and guitars are only instruments; emotions are the notes; and life is the song.
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Into the Wind- Cycling across South America

By: Mark Greiz

You ask me why I pedal to far away places;
I smile and close my eyes,
Words can’t describe the reason why;
The blue water glistens, the birds fly high.

January 29th, 2018. Although it was the height of summer, it was a cold and windy day in Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost city in the region of Magallanes and Antartica. My plan, cycle north over ten thousand kilometers (6,300 miles) to Guayaquil, Ecuador within the five months I allotted myself. Several miles out of the city and as I headed inland from the coast I was blasted with powerful direct headwinds of up to 80 kilometers an hour. My legs cramped up and my progress came to a standstill. I barely rode 60 kilometers that day and slept in an abandoned wood shack on the side of the road.
I did not know that those headwinds would be with me for most of the journey, taunting me, punishing me and testing the limits of my patience.

For me the allure of extreme cycling touring is more than a mere physical pursuit, it’s a form of spiritual cleansing and renewal. As a marketing consultant and adjunct lecturer in New York City, I know what it is like to lose touch with nature, to live within our own secure bubbles, daily routines and mundane pursuits. Although New York City is a megapolis, it is easy to feel claustrophobic and to feel disconnected from life. Cycling alone through remote regions, sleeping rough in the wild and challenging my body both physically and emotionally, not only humbles me but also lets me peer deep within my soul. It grounds me, it brings me an inner peace, often times fleeting, but easy to conjure back up in my time of need.

Cycling the Andes Route 3S in Peru

Cycling the Andes Route 3S in Peru

On this most recent trek across South America, I cycled 10,400 kilometers (6,500 miles) and encountered some of the strongest and most consistent headwinds I have ever experienced lasting for days and weeks on end. I cycled through hailstorms, through deserts and towering mountains in the Andes. I camped rough on the side of the road, in deserted shacks, in my tent tucked away in the woods or the desert sands, in abandoned trailers and forsaken structures. I was sideswiped by a motorcycle in the Argentinean Pampa, having to pick my bruised and bloodied body off the road to continue riding in the scorching heat. I cycled on long stretches of deserted road with nary a car in sight, as well as through dreadful traffic with tractor-trailers speeding by inches from me. I experienced the mystical allure of the high Andes as well as the raw beauty of the Patagonias.

3.Mesmerizing landscape and rugged conditions from Chile Chico to Puerto Guadal in Chilean Patagonia.

Mesmerizing landscape and rugged conditions from Chile Chico to Puerto Guadal in Chilean Patagonia.

Starting the trip in Punta Arenas in the Southernmost region of South America, I cycled north through the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, passing remote regions were I encountered punishing headwinds daily, as well as some of the most scenic spots on this trip. While I feel that cycling the Carretera Austral in Chile is overrated and filled with cyclists heading south on short excursions, for the more intrepid cyclist there are still some very technically challenging and unfrequented routes to take, one of them being the off-road stretch from Chile Chico on the shores of the majestic Lake General Carrera to Puerto Guadal. After cycling north on the Carettera Austral I turned back to Argentina and crossed the border near Futaleufú, a beautiful area surrounded by pristine nature and fast flowing rivers.

Camping in a remote spot in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Camping in a remote spot in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

Crossing the border back into Argentina, I cycled to the quaint European style city of San Carlos de Barloche on the shores of Lake Nahual Huapi and then onward to the charming Spanish colonial city of Salta, Argentina. What stood in the middle between Barloche and Salta was 2500 kilometers of mostly remote, flat and arid scrubland. Averaging 100 kilometers a day, I cycled this whole stretch within 24 days taking only one rest day. The riding was dull and monotonous and I encountered daily headwinds making for long, hot and arduous days. Villages were few and far between in this part of Argentina where numerous estancias occupy the barren land and fences run the length of the terrain. Most nights are spent sleeping meters from the side of the road hidden behind some thorn bushes, fighting off insects and watching rodents scatters about here and there, the sound of nocturnal animals adding to the midnight chorus.

One of many tarantulas camping out in the Argentinian Pampa between Barloche and Salta.

One of many tarantulas camping out in the Argentinian Pampa between Barloche and Salta.

Argentina is rife with visible wildlife from guanacos, lizards, wild boar, different types of rodents, tarantulas, fox and large birds related to the ostrich. There is no shelter from the sun during the day and there is no choice but to cycle into the wind for hours on end enduring the heat and rationing droplets of water to quench an unending thirst. Cycle, sip, sweat, sleep, cycle, sip, sweat, sleep, cycle, sip, sweat, sleep on the side of the road, day after day, week after week.

Curious dog approaches me as I am taking a selfie on the road into Salta.

Curious dog approaches me as I am taking a selfie on the road into Salta.

After having cycled over 2500 kilometers in flat arid plains and ready to depart Salta, it was time to climb into the mountains as I headed back to Chile. The route I chose was through Argentina’s Puna region to the desolate border at Paso Sico. The Puna region or Atacama Plateau stretches from North West Argentina into southern Chile. It is an arid and remote area consisting of high plateaus with elevations between 4000 to 5000 meters. The road from Salta to San Antonio de Los Cobres was several days of climbs on windy, paved and often winding roads, then there were 150 kilometers off-road were I cycled on gravel, rocks, and sand as I made my way to the Chile border at Paso Sico. The region is stunning in a rugged, harsh, yet calming way; alpacas roam freely and nary a passing vehicle is encountered on the whole road to Paso Sico. As I camped out nightly in the windswept and freezing high plateau, the night skies lite up with a myriad of stars, I was mesmerized by the sight and humbled by the majesty of this otherworldly landscape.

As I sat outside one night starring at the sky, pen in hand I began to write…

Sleeping under a glowing moon,
There is no other soul for miles to see;
What does it take to still your mind,
to set your body free?
Sleeping under a glowing moon,
From the daily grind I chose to flee.
The only companions present now…
are the stars, the sand, the gods and me.

Alpacas grazing on a less traveled road heading from the mountains back to the coast of Peru.

Alpacas grazing on a less traveled road heading from the mountains back to the coast of Peru.

Having crossed back into Chile at Paso Sico, the region was equally barren and stark, the roads winded up and the headwinds were fierce. It is a rough region to cycle in and an equally brutal region to sleep out in. As I slept out at high altitude in frigid temperatures amid violent winds I found comfort knowing that in a few days time I would begin my descent in the Atacama desert and arrive in the land of espresso, cold beers and pizza- the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama.

Days later, drained and ragged from a period of poor eating, long arduous climbs and sleeping out in harsh conditions, I cycled into town a zombie on my steel horse. As I cycled through the maze of dusty, narrow streets of San Pedro De Atacama I was overwhelmed, there was a cornucopia of activity, tourists on rented mountain bikes, artisans hawking their wares, backpackers sipping lattes chatting away about their most recent adventures and poseurs, the kind of which of might see in Pai, Thailand flaunting away on the corners.

I felt out of place, like I didn’t belong.

Camping in a wind swept valley in northern Chile as I approach the Peru border town of Arica.

Camping in a wind swept valley in northern Chile as I approach the Peru border town of Arica.

After just a couple of days in town and having eaten my fill of quinoa, pasta, salad, and pizza, I felt the long lonely stretches of road beckoning me once again. San Pedro De Atacama is like a trap and it was time to leave its grips before it was too late. From San Pedro I would continue my descent through the desert to the coast, sleeping in abandoned shacks on the side of the road or camped in the desert sands. For days, I followed the scenic northern Chile coast north passing seaside shantytowns where the locals eek out a living from fishing and seaweed harvesting until I reached the coastal city of Iquique. From there it was a few more days to the Peru border.

Raw beauty of Chile’s northern coast.

The raw beauty of Chile’s northern coast.

After crossing into Peru at the Arica border, I followed the coast north then turned inland. Leaving the coast I would now need to contend again with high peaks as I made my way to Arequipa and then Cusco. The road from the coast to Cusco is mostly climbing with elevations between 4500-4800 meters with a mixture of different conditions; there were stretches of dreadful traffic and utter mayhem as hundreds of lorries would pass in waves of caravans inches from me and other areas off the beaten path where Alpaca graze freely in the high Andean plateaus while Quechua shepherds tended to their flocks.

Quechua shepherd tending her flock on the high plateau on the way to Cusco.

Quechua shepherd tending her flock on the high plateau on the way to Cusco.

Cusco is a beguiling city; once the capital of the Inca Empire, the city center is filled with Spanish colonial architecture, trendy eateries, and hordes of tourists. It is easy to get seduced by her charms and I knew I had to leave after only three days or else I may have never left. After departing Cusco I cycled north on the Andes route passing small Quechua villages and larger cities including the charming city of Ayacucho with its historic city center. This city retains much of its old world charm but lacks the foreign tourists that crowd into Cusco. Cycling north on route 3 is a continuous cycle of slow climbs with elevation gains of 2000 meters in one shot and fast descents with numerous passes between 4500 and 4900 meters.

Quechua lady knitting a sweater while watching her flock on route 3.

Quechua lady knitting a sweater while watching her flock on route 3.

While most cyclists on the Andes route continue on to Huaraz, I decided to take a lesser-known, far-flung road and make my way back to the coast. At the small village of Shelby on route 3N, I decided to head east to the compact coastal city of Chancay, some 200 grueling kilometers away. The majority of this road is rocks and dirt with an arduous and long multi-level climb with the highest pass topping out at approximately 5030 meters (16,500 feet). It is a wild, rugged and awe-inspiring landscape where Alpaca graze casually next to crystal clear mountain lakes and not a soul for miles around.

The views were from over 16,000 ft. as I prepare for a hard two-day descent to the coast.

The views were from over 16,000 ft. as I prepare for a hard two-day descent to the coast.

As I stood at the high pass at 16,500 feet, I noted the dirt road snaking its way down the mountain. I took solace in the fact that this was my last climb of the trip as well as my last portion of off-road riding. I stood silent, gazed into the distance, mesmerized by my surroundings, relishing the solitude.

Descending to the coast was technically challenging as the roads were steep, winding and mostly rocks. As I descended from over 16,000 feet to sea level the topography slowly changed from cold wind swept arid plateaus, to lush mountain vistas with fast running rivers and then to the heat, stench, and pollution of the Peruvian coast. From Chancay it would be about another 1600 kilometers to Guayaquil, my final destination. Although this part of the Pan American Highway is filled with trucks racing up and down, for the first time on my trip I had no headwind and even some days with a slight tailwind. My progress was quick, almost too quick beckoning the end of the trip. I cycled hundreds of kilometers mostly through desert and then up the coast to the Ecuadorian border, sleeping along the way in dreary, dirty towns and alone in the desert wilderness.

Crossing into Ecuador I cycled for days through mile after mile of banana plantations in the heat and humidity. As I approached Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city I knew my trip was coming to an end. My emotions were mixed; I was glad that the trip was coming to an end, yet feeling incomplete, that there is still more riding to be done and more places to see. I turned 50 years old on the day I crossed the border into Ecuador-“maybe I am getting to old for this,” I thought to myself. Sleeping rough off the side of the road for days on end does not excite me as much as it used to, but the cycling life is constantly enticing me back. There is a little voice in the deep recesses of my brain often urging me to pack up my bike and head off to some distant land. My thoughts were running rampant as I cycled through the traffic-clogged roads. As I made my way over the bridge that crosses the Guayas River into downtown, my rear pannier swiped a truck tire on the side of the road and I went flying. My arms and legs bleeding and swollen; I was in pain and disbelief that an accident would welcome my entry into town.

I picked my bicycle up, reflected for a moment, “maybe I am getting too old for this.” I got back on my bicycle and rode through heavy traffic into downtown Guayaquil; the trip was over.

End of the trip, cycling through the Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil on the way to downtown.

End of the trip, cycling through the Santa Ana Hill, Guayaquil on the way to downtown.

To see more pictures and videos from this trip follow Mark on Instagram @theadriftcyclist
To read other articles from Mark click here, here, and here.

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How We Roll: Laird’s Chopper Tallbike

Here’s something cool, Laird Rickard’s Tallbike-chopper-tallbike. Sometimes it’s a chopper…

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Other times it’s a tallbike. As you might guess from the photos, Laird lives and rides in the Bay area. Yes that is a trombone, cuz ya never know when a jam might break out.

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There are certain advantages to riding a tallbike. Being high above the crowd is one. That people are trying less hard to kill you is another. Tallbikes seem to bring out the best in people, friendlier reactions, and less hate. Plus a better view of where Flock Of Seagulls are playing later.

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I had never seen such a thing, so I was rather impressed. But apparently, there’s a bunch of information on the internet provided by people who do this sort of thing. Yes, It’s a thing. A thing that “Makers” make. You know how to weld? And grind? If so, all you’ll need is a “Huffy” or other department store suspension frame, steel for the extensions, and gas shocks for the up and down motion. The gas shocks come in different lengths and strengths, so you will need to be careful about selecting the right shocks for your weight and the bikes geometry.

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And you’ll need to be able to fabricate an extension to the fork to create a chopper fork. Back in the day we used to cut the legs off of one fork and jam them onto the ends of another to create a chopper. But heck, if you can weld you can do pretty much whatever you want.

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Simple as pie. Right? Well, you also need to extend the rear triangle. Laird did this with a piece of rectangular steel, but I’m sure you could use something else as long as it is strong and not too heavy.

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Check out the video…here…

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Two-Wheeled Musings with Paul de Valera

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By Paul de Valera

My bicycle is my best friend, my only true ally in this world. My bicycle will never betray me, well it may break and throw me off of into a bush or go flat and make me push it now and again but it will never work towards my undoing, not intentionally that is. My bicycle is always there when I need it and as long as I take care of it, the bike will take care of me. By using my bicycle I get to go places, see things, and travel under my own power. Powering my self makes me empowered. My mind becomes sharper and my body stronger. By using a bicycle I become a better person, a stronger person. The bicycle is a stalwart companion when all of my human interactions have failed me again for the umpteenth time, where tears race down my face as I pedal to the top of a mountain each pedal stroke has a leveling effect, bringing me back to balance. All the sense of loss, hurt, and anger created in this world is pedaled out, the bike propping me up when if left alone to my own strength I would be in a fetal position. When troubled, the bicycle unravels mental and emotional knots, helps to solve problems and keep one even-keeled. There are times when you can’t articulate what is wrong but your bicycle won’t care it will just be a good friend to you and take you on your way for as long as you need, it has eternal patience. When my father died and I was sobbing out of my head with grief I shunned the comfort of my family and got on my bike. I rode and rode and pushed up a couple peaks. As I kept pedaling I processed my whole life experience and before you I knew it, I felt so much better because I had the best friend ever to lean on, my bicycle.

Paul is the proprietor of Atomic Cycles, publisher of Chicken Head Records Zine, promoter of the Coaster Brake Challenge and purveyor of cruiser bits at genuinebicycleproducts.com. This all takes place around the San Fernando Valley in southern California.

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Highlights from Eurobike

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.

Wishbone Bike

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. 

Urban Arrow

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.

DZR H2O

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.

Cycloc

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

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.

Hiplok

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.

Klickfix

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

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.

TomTom

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.

Yepp

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.

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Video: Walnut Studiolo’s leather bicycle accessories

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".

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Garmin releases GPS for touring cyclists

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.  

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Bike sharing coming to Philadelphia

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.

Initial deployment

Long-term deployment

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." 

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Trina’s favorite handmade bicycle jewelry

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?! 

 

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Good news or bad? Dictator orders subjects to ride bikes

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?  

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Blue skies are back, Rebecca’s Private Idaho gravel race is on

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 rpi@rebeccarusch.com 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 Rusch

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Urban Assault Ride looking for locations

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: 

  1. Des Moines
  2. Austin
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Denver
  5. St Louis
  6. Tucson

Where do you want it to visit? 

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Review: Cannondale Hooligan

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. 

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Trek unveils new cyclocross line, the Crockett

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.
 

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QBP launches new brand aimed at sportsmen

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?  

Introducing Cogburn Outdoors from Cogburn on Vimeo.

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July’s “Trek Match” yields 1,500 new bikes for rural Africa

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.

 

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Review: Gazelle Cabby

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. 

www.gazellebikes.com

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