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July 4th Ride a Success!

Bikecommuters.com and the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club co-hosted a bike ride the night of July 4th to go catch the fireworks in downtown Tampa. We only got about ten riders…LOTS of regulars were out of town for the weekend…but we had a blast and couldn’t ask for a better viewing area for the fireworks display.

Here’s our crew heading out from the Seminole Heights Garden Center:

bunch

It’s a pretty effortless spin downtown…not a lot of traffic heading down that way, and once we got into the downtown zone, being on bikes made a huge difference in navigating the narrow streets. We were able to zip right down to Tampa’s Riverwalk and scored a great spot to view the fireworks at Cotanchobee Park. Being able to “park” mere feet from our viewing spot was nice, too:

parking

Lots of folks took their boats downtown, too — here’s a shot of the water traffic in Garrison Channel, with Tampa’s exclusive Harbour Island in the background:

boats

And, of course, the main event…a pretty spectacular fireworks display with a stunning finale that left the crowd cheering. I ran out of both still- and video-camera memory just before the finale, but got some of the display recorded for posterity. Enjoy!

fireworks

fireworks 2

The ride home was a piece of cake, too. While thousands of “temporary” pedestrians headed for their cars, we simply got on our bikes and headed out. We were able to zip past dozens of cars caught in post-finale gridlock and made it home in only a few short minutes. No one even tried shooting bottle rockets at us!

Coming Soon: Jango 7.1 Bike Review

Way back at Interbike 2007, Moe spotted an intriguing line of bicycles new to the market…check out his photos from back then by clicking here. Jango, a subsidiary of bicycle accessories juggernaut Topeak, has a pretty neat concept going on, and we were eager to get our hands on their products.

Well, after much speculation and hand-wringing, we were finally able to score a test model just less than two years after Jango introduced the bikes at Interbike! Sometimes things move with strange timing in the bike world…

What we got was a Jango 7.1 in 700c configuration:

jango 7.1

The concept is very cool: what if buying a bike was like going to a car dealer? What if you could walk into a shop, select a bike from a range of models and then select pre-configured “trim packages” or choose dedicated accessories from an extensive menu, all based on your needs? Jango offers seven bike models, nine preconfigured “trim packages” and a list of over 30 unique accessories. That’s a lot to digest!

Our test bike is the 7.1. Here’s a little bit about it from Jango’s website:

Bell: Jango integrated courtesy bell, black
Lights: Jango integrated front and rear LED lights
Pedals: Ergonomic Jango Dual Fit safety pedals
Saddle: Pressure free Allay Racing Sport saddle with AirSpan technology
Sizes: XS (430) / S (475) / M (500) / L (550) / XL (600)
Tyres: Jango light weight 700c x 38c
Wheels: Jango light weight wheel system
Grips: Ergonomic grip
Gears: Shimano Alivio 3 x 8 24 speed
Brake: Levers Jango with integrated bell mount
Fork: Jango suspension fork with magnesium lowers. Oil / Nitrogen hydraulic damping with elastomer spring. Variable compression with lock-out function. 50mm travel
Frame: Jango design with patented modular Plug in Play ports and personalized head badge theft deterrent system. Comfort geometry, high strength 7005 alu, double butted
Kickstand: Jango integrated kickstand
Seat Post: Jango with quick mount socket
Bar/Stem combination: Ergonomic Jango Vario Stem with adjustable angle and height. Forged Alu
Brakes: Jango disc brakes with integrated front disc lock
Colour: Jango Silver

With the bike, we also got a large case of assorted accessories, from cargo-carrying bits to lights, security gear, fenders and a computer. We’re going to have a lot to share, so I’ll try to break things down into a series of articles covering the bike itself, the accessories and the overall experience.

In the meantime, check out Jango’s website for a good overview of their concept and their wide range of models, trim packages and accessories. And stay tuned…the test riding has already begun!

Friday Funnies: Selling a bike on Craigslist

Forwarded to me by our pal Shek Mukherjee, this is a handy guide for bicycle sellers who advertise on Craigslist. In the famous words of Fat Tony from the Simpsons, “it’s funny because it’s true.

PLEASE NOTE: This probably doesn’t apply to you. But some sellers need to have a good long look at this.

Everyone has the right to sell their bikes for whatever they want, but those who do not know what they are talking about need a sanity check. Granted, I know the economy is bad and you might have found a “jewel” in the rough – but for crying out loud, do some research beforehand.

The following is an elementary guide for those of you who are absolutely clueless about your garage sale or thrift store finds:

1) Just because your bike was made in Europe doesn’t mean you’ve got a winner. They made a lot of junk, too.
2) A low end bike that was $97.00 in 1976 is not, magically, worth $400.00 now.
3) Adult bikes do not have goosenecks.
4) If the chain is conspicuously rusty and kinked in the picture, nobody is going to fall for your claims of “mint condition.”
5) If you get asked how many speeds it has and do not know nor care, pull your ad. Immediately.
6) Telling us that you found it in a barn is not a rationale for overpricing it.
7) Take OFF the $10 price tag from Goodwill before you take your Craigslist picture and ask $250 for it.
8 ) “Light and FAST!” . . . Ok, if you say so.
9) Not everything with those kooky, curvy handlebars is a race bike.
10) Neither is a race bike “improved” by flipping those curvy handlebars upside down.
11) Don’t be offended if someone offers you an insulting amount that is far less than you want for your bike – they’re just smarter than you.
12) Don’t get ticked off if someone low-balls you when you state “make offer” in your ad. You asked for it.
13) Tires are tires and wheels are wheels. These terms are not interchangeable.
14) Breaks should be referred to as “brakes”, petles or petals as “pedals”.
15) Your bike was not made by Shimano, Suntour, or Campagnolo. I know you saw that name somewhere on it, but just trust me on this one.
16) Vintage implies it was worth something when it was new, otherwise it’s just OLD.
17) High tensile steel – yeah, they put a sticker on the bike that says it but I wouldn’t be bragging about it.
18) Go ahead and repost that 10 speed Huffy every week – no one will tire of its charm. If you’re willing to endure the humiliation, we’ll be there for you until you reach your target market.
19) ALL CAPS DOES NOT MAKE IT A BETTER BIKE.
20) Pictures of the LEFT side of the bike aren’t worth much of anything, nobody can see the drivetrain. All things considered, perhaps you’d rather want to hide it anyway.
21) Blurry pictures add a negative symbol to your price tag.
22) If you steal someone else’s photos (not the manufacturer’s) from the web and use them to represent your own bike, you are absolute scum.
23) “Suitable for fixie conversion” doesn’t make a POS frame any more valuable. For that matter…WHAT makes it suitable?
24) If you think your bicycle is worth a four figure sum ($x,xxx), the LEAST you could do is to spell the brand and component names correctly (eg. Trek, not treck; Schwinn, not shwin; Campagnolo, not Campagnola; and Shimano – not shmano, shimono, or shamano)
25) Include the size of the bicycle! No, it’s not the tire size. It’s measured from the center of the cranks (the big sprocket) to the top of the seat tube (before the silver or black post that holds the seat [saddle].) It needs to be in either inches or centimeters. Both if you are nice.
26) NEXT, Magna, Huffy, Roadmaster, and Murray are NOT highly-respected brands. Get over it.
27) Taking a nice multispeed road bike that was posted here two days ago for a reasonable price raping it of all good derailleur parts, making it a single speed with a $22 Chinese bmx cog from performancebike.com does not double or triple its value or make it a “race bike” or “fixie”.
28) There is no such thing as a road mountain bike
29) Just because you are selling it for a friend doesn’t make you an expert if you are not
30) If you don’t list the brand and it is unreadable in the photos, we will assume it is a POS
31) Research the going price of your bike before posting
32) Just because it cost a lot 10 years ago when it was brand new and you have barely rode it, doesn’t mean it is worth 50% + of new price (see #31)
33) Just because you bought it within the past year doesn’t mean someone is going to pay close to what you paid, especially if the new model years are coming out and yours is now discounted
34) Don’t use terms you do not understand – if it does not have rear suspension, it is not full suspension
35) Proofread – I have never seen a bike measured in feet but I’ve seen a lot of 26′ bikes posted
36) If it is a *mart bike and you just paid to have it “tuned up”, you probably just wasted your money as the tune up was probably more than the bike is worth
37) We don’t want to call for basic information you should have posted or to have you send us pictures
38) Don’t sell a used helmet unless you really did just buy it, otherwise it may have been crashed and is a safety hazard

I hope this has cleared up some things for the cycling-challenged sellers .

Return to the Road

This is the story behind my purchase of a 2009 Bianchi Vigorelli. I have always had an interest in bicycles since childhood, from my first two-wheeler at the age of four, progressing into BMX bikes through my teen years. At about the age of sixteen I gave up cycling and spent my time borrowing Mom’s car and working to eventually achieve car ownership. Like all the other teens in Southern California, car ownership was the peak of life in my mind. I never stopped thinking bikes were fun, I just thought cars would be more fun.

Despite being a car-commuter student at UC Irvine from 2000-2005, I actually found myself back on a bike due to parking! With an annual parking pass running around three hundred dollars, I went to the Local Bike Shop (LBS) and purchased a dirt jump specific BMX bike and commuted with that in the back of my car. I’d park a couple miles off-campus and ride in. Eventually that bike would be stolen and again, I was bike-less.

Shortly after graduation and finding my first “real? job, I discovered something new! Disposable income! Thanks to Lance Armstrong and the road cycling wave sweeping the U.S., I purchased a clearance Specialized Roubaix Elite compact road bike, along with a friend who purchased a Giant OCR2 at the same time. I took to cycling and really enjoyed the first couple months, however my enthusiasm waned as my friend lost interest. I commuted a few times to and from work, but eventually hung that up when I moved from La Mirada to Fullerton and away from the Los Coyotes Creek bike path. I sold the bike in 2007, thinking I’m not going to find myself riding road again.

Los Coyotes Creek Bike Trail, Northbound @ 91 Freeway

Los Coyotes Creek Bike Trail, Northbound @ 91 Freeway

Around 2006 I also found mountain biking, first on a Specialized Hardrock, progressing to a 2006 Fsr XC Pro. Living close to the Fullerton Loop, this became my new hobby. My riding buddies were going strong and riding regularly. As life slowly filtered them out between work, marriage and children, I soon found myself riding the Loop alone. A year later, fed up with riding the loop alone, I found the website MtnBikeRiders.com. Looking through the pictures of RL and crew, I realized they had to be Fullerton locals. I sent an email to RL asking if I could join them for a ride. Suddenly, I had a group to ride with again and my passion for biking began to grow again. My fitness level improved dramatically and I’ve even entered a few mountain bike races, the thought of road biking, maybe for training began to enter my mind. alone again.

The final piece of the puzzle came at my friend’s wedding. There I ran into an old college friend who is now an avid cyclist. He told me about the Cool Breeze Century in Ventura CA. I was sold, I’ve always thought a century ride would be a lot of fun and something on my list of things to do before I die, now was the chance to reconnect with an old friend, increase my training and have some more fun in my life!

2004 Cannondale Road Warrior 600

2004 Cannondale Road Warrior 600

I scoured craigslist and eventually came away with a 04 Cannondale Road Warrior 600. A 700c hybrid, I thought it would be a perfect city bike and capable for the Cool Breeze century. As it turns out, the Warrior is perfect for those things, but as I monitored my average speed, compared to my speeds in 2006 on the Roubaix, along with my new found fitness, I knew I could do better.

Back to Craigslist and EBay I searched for a good deal on a great used bike. Armed with the geometry specs of the 2005 Roubaix I searched for my “deal?. Committed to finding a plush road bike, I spent a month without luck. Finally perusing through the inventory at one of the local shops I found a Vigorelli on sale. For one of the first times in my life, I did not make the impulse buy. I continued to search the used bikes in the area until finally three weeks later I returned to the Vigorelli. She (sorry for the politically incorrect terminology) was beautiful. Her thin classic tubes and the promise of a sweet ride, attested to by the Reynolds 631 tubing sticker she wore.

Reynolds 631 Tubing

Reynolds 631 Tubing

A modern carbon fork supporting a vintage-looking head tube clad with the Edoardo Bianchi badge. I finally spoke up and asked for a test ride. I swung a leg over the bike and coolly pedaled down the alley way. I circled up and down the street twice, and then broke into a sprint; she felt beautiful, clearly overweight by anorexic road bike means — she’s not the supermodel, and she’s not sexy, just good-looking. She wasn’t fast, rather she offered comfort, and she felt like home.

2009 Bianchi Vigorelli

2009 Bianchi Vigorelli

Chicago’s Bike to Work Week challenges commuters

Are you ready for this year’s bike commuter challenge? National Bike to Work Day may have been on May 15, but Chicagoans get competitive about bike commuting in mid-June, after getting primed with May’s Bike the Drive.

The Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) “challenges” companies and workers to bike to work at least once during Chicago’s June Bike to Work Week (June 13-19).

In fact, they sum up the challenge by asking “Does your company have what it takes?”

If your company accepts the challenge, then ATA’s Bike Commuter Challenge offers companies the chance to compete with other businesses to see which can get the most employees to bike to work during Bike to Work Week, June 13-19. As of this posting, 320 teams had registered.

For those seasoned bike commuters and the newbies alike, ATA has a helpful list of resources to help any team get ready for the challenge of bike commuting.

In this era of being eco-conscious, this year’s bike to work week is getting recognition not only from athletic sites and blogs, but also from environmental blogs, including Chicago’s edition of A Fresh Squeeze.