BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: Moe

Freedom Bicycle ThickSlick tires review

I enlisted the help of my younger brother Roy to put this tires through a thorough testing. For some reason, Roy had a habit of averaging 2 flats per week on whatever bike he rode, Freedom Bicycle claims that the ThickSlick is one of the strongest urban tires in the market so I thought it was a perfect fit for Roy’s riding habits.

About the rider: Roy is 20 years old, 5’10 and about 155 lbs, he is a college student and rides his bike to school and loves to go on urban adventures with his buddies.

Here are his observations of the Freedom ThickSlick tires:

Thick and Slick are two words that best describe the tires that I have been riding for about three months now. They are slightly wider than your typical road bike tires but they are twice as resilient. I come from a background of frequent flat tires due to riding through rough terrain, debris, broken glass, and sometimes even from catching some air.

Out of these last three months I have had zero problems with these tires. I use my bike as an urban bike and spend most my time riding though the streets of Los Angeles County. I have ridden through rocks, dirt, sticks, and even small shards of glass and to my surprise I have experienced zero flats. I can certainly say that I’ve beaten the crap out of these tires. Since I live in Sunny Southern California, I didn’t get to ride on the rain, however the tires never slipped on any puddle of water that I came across.

Despite looking like two over-sized inner tubes I have received many compliments by other riders, some have asked me if the tires were tubulars. I guess that is a compliment since my brother says that tubular tires are very high performance and very expensive tires!

As “Slick” as the tires appear, I experienced loads of traction on the road. Handling on these tires was a great experience, I was able to handle turns at high velocity and at low leaning angles. Braking on these tires was excellent, a couple times I needed to brake suddenly due to moving cars or other bikers, fortunately, I was able to stop with minimal skidding and enough time to avoid any collisions.

Prices for the Freedom ThickSlick vary from $15 to $30, these tires easily pay themselves off by saving on tire tubes. So if you are looking for a tire that would be able to handle all the harsh conditions of Urban riding, its durable, handles great and looks good, I highly recommend you get yourself a set of these tires.

For more information and tech specs on these tires, please visit http://www.freedombicycle.com.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

KHS Urban Uno Review

If you believe that “Commuter Bikes” should be multi-geared, have fenders, racks and a chainguard then click here. If you are looking for a simple to maintain, fair weather “singlespeed commuter bike” that has a little bit of flair, then read on.

KHS Bicycles have always offered a big selection when it comes to “Urban” bikes; the KHS Urban Uno is one of their three singlespeed/fixed gear offerings. The Urban Uno comes with decent specs such a 520 Reynolds DB CrMo Frame, a CrMo Fork, 44t Gold crankset and alloy fenders.

Here is the full spec sheet:

I’ve always been a fan of singlespeed bikes, since my commute is flat and I live in sunny SoCal, the Urban Uno is perfectly suited for my ride to work. Singlespeed bikes are also easy to maintain, lighter and there are no derailleurs to adjust.

You may love or hate the KHS Urban Uno’s style; I actually like it. It does not scream vanilla Singlespeed or hipster fixie bike. The geometry of the bike was comfortable, the cockpit didn’t feel tight nor too stretched out. I was pleasantly surprised that the saddle was very comfortable; some OEM saddles tend to be too hard and fall in the numb nuts category. The cowhorn bar is another love/hate affair; although stylish, they do lack more than two hand positions. I’m not a toe-clip type of rider, but I gave the Wellgo pedals a chance — unfortunately, they sucked so I swapped them for my Crank Bros Quattro pedals.

The fenders that come with the KHS Urban Uno do serve a purpose; they did a great job when I rode over little puddles of water, but I doubt that they would do very well in a downpour. My ride takes me across a couple of railroad tracks; the rims and tires always gave me a good sense of confidence and their durability was not an issue. The Kenda Kontenders are a great choice of tires for those of us who commute. I never got a puncture and they seemed to roll rather fast.

For those who would like to add a rear rack, the Urban Uno does come with eyelets, but you may have to get longer screws since the fenders will be sharing the same holes at the dropouts. The Urban Uno’s frame also has room for your hydration needs; it comes with two sets of threaded bosses for your water bottle holders. Another feature of the Urban Uno is that if you want to go fixie style, you can. Although the fixed gear cog is not provided, the rear hub is threaded for one. I did not get the chance to ride the bike as a fixed geared bike.

The MSRP of the bike is at $489.00, if you are looking for a singlespeed commuter, the Urban Uno is certainly worth a look

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Commuter Profile: Peter Beers

From Northern Virginia, Peter Beers is a bike commuter who rides his bike to Washington DC; here is his bike commuter profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Part time (1-3 days per week): 15 years, Full time (250-300 days per year): 3 years.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I’ve been a bike geek since I was old enough to ride. As a kid, it was my freedom. Mom worked a lot to pay the bills. I was left to myself. I went for a lot of bike rides.

These days, living in a city with gridlock issues like the Washington, DC metro area, riding my bike to work is a natural extension of that feeling of freedom. I could sit in a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or I could be riding my bicycle.

I change up my commute route during the week. It is a minimum of 30 miles round trip, but I often take the long way home – 45 miles round trip. My weekly mileage for commuting is between 150 and 200 miles.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

Riding 200+ miles per week throughout the year has both an up and down side. I’ve lost around 50 pounds over the last 3 years. I’ve had to increase my beer consumption in order to keep any semblance of a belly.
The down-side of riding in the city that much is that there are many more opportunities to get up-close and personal with taxis, buses and cars. I’ve been hit 4 times in the last 18 months. None were too serious, though I did miss 4-5 weeks of riding this winter with a dislocated shoulder. On the good side, I also missed 4-5 weeks of snow shoveling. All of the incidents happened because drivers were not paying attention.

The mental health/attitude improvement benefits of riding to work are beyond measure. I’m happier and more energetic at work. I arrive at the office with my blood flowing and ready to work. I’m productive from the moment my butt hits the office chair. I arrive home having de-stressed from the day and carrying no work-related baggage.


What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I’m a computer geek (software lifecycle management) who lives in Northern Virginia and works in downtown Washington, DC. I’m fortunate enough to work in the same building as the US Environmental Protection Agency. They let us non-government wonks use their bike facility and showers.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I’ve got a wide variety to choose from. Spring, summer and fall commuting these days is done on a Surly Big Dummy cargo bike. Riding a 75+ pound bike gives a bit of extra workout value to the commute.

Winter commuting is done on either a Surly Steamroller fixie (with fenders) or a mutant fixie cross bike (with studded tires for ice and snow) made from an old 26?-wheeled single speed mountain bike frame that now sports 700c wheels drop bars and a front disc brake. When the weather is really bad, I break out the 29er dinglespeed (2 chainrings, 2 cogs for the drivetrain) based on a Salsa Mamasita MTB frame.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Anger management has been a challenge when dealing with cars, taxis and buses. I used to let my emotions get the best of me when someone would cut me off or actively threaten me with their car. The high point (or low point depending on your point of view) of that was when a woman ran a red light and ran me off the road twice in 2 blocks because she was talking on the phone. She never did see or hear me beating on her window. I was so angry that I chased her for 20+ miles through DC rush hour traffic. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind. At the end, I found myself 30 miles from home and pretty dang tired and no less angry. Not good.

Honestly that day was a red flag for me that I needed to change how I approached cycling. I had my own little intervention (Can you intervene with yourself?) and started a quest NOT to avenge any wrongs perpetrated against me on the road. I now do what I can to get rid of the “Us versus Them? attitude between bicycles, runners, cars, buses, taxis, tourists, etc. That is my new quest. Am I 100% successful? Hell no! I definitely try to be a good example of riding at peace with my environment.

This is a great transition into my next topic…

In early April I added a sign to the back of my cargo bike aimed at aggressive drivers. It says, “Honk if you’re horny!? I wasn’t exactly sure how well that would to over with the road ragers in the DC area. After about 3 months, I’d have to say that it is an unmitigated success. It has completely changed the demographic of people who are honking at me. I’ve had only one or two people honk in anger at me since. It has helped my attitude too, because my reaction isn’t to respond in anger… it is to laugh at them professing their amorous intentions so loudly. I get people laughing, waiving and honking playfully every day. Sure beats getting honked at in anger every day. It has changed the dynamic of my riding.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

Mixed. In the winter people just think I’m a mutant that cannot possibly be in his right mind. Few if any can fathom the idea that the decision whether or not to ride is rarely made by me. If it is physically possible to ride, I will. If I can’t get through by bike, I probably can’t get through by car.

Spring and fall people think it is nice and express an interest in getting out there and riding with me.

With the summer heat index up over 100 degrees, I seem to fall back into the category of “crazy bike guy? with co-workers.

I’m the self-appointed person who promotes commuting on bicycle at the office. I’ve inspired a few to start riding a few days per week during nice weather. We have great access to bike facilities. On a good day we’ve got 5 or 6 people who commute on bicycle. In an office that usually has between 40 and 50 people working in it each day, that isn’t too bad.

I have a lot of co-workers that comment on my photographs.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

My advocacy is kind of all-over the place. I show up to and support Washington Area Bicycle Association (www.waba.org) functions. I contribute to BikeArlington’s forums (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/forum.php) to help facilitate people choosing to incorporate bicycles into their life more often. I rebuild and donate bikes to charity on my own, though I haven’t had time to do that much this year. Up until this year I worked pretty avidly with the Mid Atlantic Off-road Enthusiasts (http://www.more-mtb.org/). They’re the local mountain bike club. I lead beginners rides and conducted skills clinics for many years as well as taking part in trail maintenance and building days. Work has not allowed me to do much of that for the last year.

I guess my bit of advocacy is just leading by example. I get a lot of comments on the cargo bike. My answer to most questions is simple. “This is the bike that lets me do what I want to do without having to drive.?

Though not really bicycle advocacy, I distribute water, clothing, food and what-ever to the homeless people I encounter on my travels. This morning I encountered one of “regulars? who had decided that the middle of the Custis trail (the main bicycle/pedestrian artery into the city) was the best place for him to be sleeping. Nothing I could do would convince him this was not a good thing. I left one of my flashy lights 15 feet in front of him so people would know to avoid him. I left him a bottle of water in case he was thirsty when he woke up. Not sure yet how that turned out. I did what I could.

Is that bicycle advocacy? No. I guess I’m being an advocate on a bicycle though.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I belong to a small band of people who have a group on Flickr to document their cycling. The group (Bike180 for 2009, 2010Bike180 for this year) was an active photo essay maintained by a group who ride at least 180 days per year and contribute one photo for every day we ride.

The 2009 Bike180 (http://www.flickr.com/groups/bike180/) group had 54 people in it and a total of almost 2100 photos contributed. Many rode more than 180 days, 4 rode more than 200. 2 of us rode more than 300.

The 2010Bike180 (http://www.flickr.com/groups/bike180-2010/) group has fewer people (38) but they’re much more prolific. We’re at mid July and we’ve already surpassed the number of photos/rides of last year.

For me the challenge isn’t to make 180 days per year… it is to take interesting photos every day. Starting in June I decided that I needed a theme. I started documenting one statue, sculpture or monument each day. It has forced me to stop and smell the roses. It has renewed my love affair with Washington, DC.

Thanks for the opportunity to share.

Thank you Peter for sharing your profile and your pictures with us. We are still working on other commuter profiles, so be patient if you haven’t seen yours yet!

Torker T-450E Hybrid Review

The Torker T-450E is a bicycle that some people me frown upon and some people may be curious about it. The concept of a Hybrid bike is quite an interesting one, not really an electric moped and not really a traditional bicycle, but a bike that assists you to pedal.

As a rider that has ridden most types of bikes, (yes, I even ridden a recumbent) I was quite pleased with the ergonomics, looks and comfort of this bicycle. Although I prefer more aerodynamic bikes, having had a surgery in my shoulder a little while ago I welcomed the upright position and angle of the handlebars.

As far as a bike goes, the Torker T-450 is well equipped with a rear rack, fenders, adjustable stem, 5 speed Sturmey-Archer hub and a chainguard. Yes, the bike is heavy compared to motor-less bikes, but surprisingly light to comparable electric bikes. The bike’s heft does not affect the handling of the bike, in fact, this bike is well balanced. As a previous owner of a bicycle with an electric kit, I can say that these type of bikes have come a long way in weight and handling characteristics.

The Torker T-450E is powered by a lithium polymer battery which is controlled by a trigger-like accelerator mounted on the left hand side of the handle bars. The juice is then delivered to a protanium motor in the front hub. (by the way, both hubs are NOT made out of plastic)

Riding the Torker T-450E took a little while to get used to. Once the ignition has been switched to on and the switch on the trigger accelerator is also on, the bike’s hybrid system engages as soon as you start pedaling without pressing on the trigger. The light pedaling sensation makes you shift and start pedaling a little harder, once you hit a high cruising speed, the pedal-assist disengages altogether. This took a little time to get used to, if I wanted to engage the pedal-assist system, I had to slow down for it to engage. The system will also disengage if you start pedaling, even if you are pressing on the trigger, that means no free lunch!

So how fast does it really go? I grabbed my handy GPS and tested the bike’s top speed on a flat road and I achieved 14.3 mph. Keep in mind that I weight about 178lbs and I was carrying about 7 lbs worth of cargo.

How long will the battery last? I did about 21 miles without recharging the battery and using the motor quite a bit. Charge time took about 4-5 hours (as claimed), plenty of time to charge in a 8 hour work day.

So what type of bicycle commuter would benefit from this bike? Bike commuters that don’t really like to arrive sweaty (like myself) to work, commuters who have time constraints or new commuters that don’t have the fitness level to do long or hilly commutes. Besides commuting, this bike is also nice to do long trips to the beach, imagine leaving the car at home and forget about parking hassles! The bike is also a good light grocery getter, simply attach some grocery panniers and you are ready for beer runs.

So what about cons? Well, the only con I found about this bike was its sticker price, at $1,649 the bike is pricey compared to regular bikes but competitively priced with other electric hybrid bikes. However, keep in mind that if you have a long commute and you leave the car at home, this bike will pay for itself in the long run.