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Commuting With Nirve Ultraliner

Randy

This morning’s bike commute was a cool 86 degrees. Cool you ask? Sounds warm, but compared to the hellish ride home of a scorching 106, 86 degrees isn‘t too bad.

the way home

Today I used the Nirve Ultraliner I picked up from RL the other weekend. It’s a sharp looking bike with brushed aluminum finish and a rocking 3 speed automatic shifter. I was surprised to see how well this bike rode. It actually shifted on the precise moment I needed it to shift gears. Don’t ask me how it does, because it blows my mind too.

Nirve Ultraliner

I’ve only got a short 4 mile one way commute but it’s pretty hilly the whole way. And having the automatic shifter is such a blessing. You don’t have to worry about when to shift or which gear to use. The Ultraliner does it all for you.

Ultraliner

One major difference of riding this bike compared to the other bikes I’ve ridden is you’re not hunched over to reach the handle bars. This is definitely a plus for me. Riding on any other bike usually gives me back pains after prolonged rides. But I did not experience that with the Ultraliner.

I plan on commuting with the Nirve Ultraliner for the next couple of weeks to give a more thorough review.

Are mountain bikes the SUV’s of Urban Bikes?

Moe in Aliso
This question was posed yesterday to Gary Fisher at the LA Bicycle Film Festival. Gary didn’t quite hear the question so we didn’t get a concrete answer. I will attempt to answer this question.

First, lets start with the definition of an SUV per Wikipedia:

An SUV is a passenger vehicle which combines the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or station wagon together with all or off road ability

Since most bikes have the same towing capacity and passenger carrying space, we’ll focus on the off road ability of SUV’s.

The ironic part is that SUV’s hardly ever see the dirt but are more of a “social status symbol”, have you ever seen an Escalade or a Navigator off road??? Heck, most H2 and H3 Hummers never see the dirt. Within this context and without counting the Big Box “Mountain Bikes” (they never see the dirt, nor would I recommend it), I would not consider Mountain Bikes to be the SUV’s of Urban Bikes.

xtracycle

However, Xtracycle is a company that strives to duplicate some of the SUV’s passenger and carrying space abilities. Xtracycle’s freeradical attaches to most types of bikes and has the ability to carry a passenger, a load of 150lbs and to go off-road. The Freeradical IS the SUV of Urban bikes.

Books for Bicyclists

I recently starting working at a busy downtown library here in Tampa. One of the first things I did was to consult our online catalog to see which, if any, books on bicycling our library had on its shelves. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few! Here are some of the ones I’ve read over the past couple months, organized by type:

Bicycling History and Development

Classic American Bicycles by Jay Pridmore (MBI Publishers, 1999). This book covers the many popular brands (Schwinn, Huffy, Columbia, Roadmaster, etc. and includes many color photographs.

The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle by Frank Berto, et al. (Van der Plas, 2005). This is an exhaustive volume covering the origins and development of the shifting mechanisms we’re all so familiar with. This book is filled with historical photographs and manufacturers specifications and is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of the component manufacturers such as Campagnolo, Huret and Shimano.
The Dancing Chain

No Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, an American Institution by Judith Crown and Glenn Coleman (H. Holt, 1996). This is an incredible account of the history and market dominance of family-owned Schwinn Bicycles. The book offers a no-holds-barred analysis of the embarrassing and mostly avoidable financial downfall of one of America’s great bike makers.

Bicycle Touring and Culture

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Martin Smith (Adventure Press, 2000). This book chronicles the author’s circumnavigation of the Australian continent, from charming seaside towns to blistering desert. The author meets quite a few characters along the way, too.

Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman’s Bicycle Trip through Mongolia, China and Vietnam by Erika Warmbrunn (Mountaineers Books, 2001). Erika Warmbrunn writes a captivating tale of her experiences riding a bicycle from Russia into Mongolia and China and beyond. It’s a truly amazing story, and her experiences with the native people of those regions are heartwarming.

Over the Hills: A Midlife Escape Across America by Bicycle by David Lamb (Times Books, 1996). The author decides to get on his bike one day and travel from the East Coast all the way to California. This is an inspiring and funny tale of his adventures, filled with just enough bike-geekery to keep diehards entertained for hours.

The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power by Travis Hugh Culley (Villard Books, 2001). This book looks into the mystique of bicycle messengers, those daredevils of the concrete canyons. The author covers all aspects of his experiences and includes a good bit of railing against America’s carbound, consumer-based culture. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
The Immortal Class

Bicycle Repair and Maintenance

Zinn and the Art of Road Bike/Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn (VeloPress, 2005). These two books are some of the best repair manuals currently on the market – filled with useful tips from the man who builds custom bicycles and components and writes the many tech articles for VeloNews.com.

Sloane’s New Bicycle Repair Manual by Eugene Sloane (Simon and Schuster, 1991). There may be more recent editions of this book, but this is a fantastic “starter? repair manual for the budding home mechanic. It covers tool selection and overhaul/maintenance of all major bicycle systems. I have an older edition of this book at home – no V brakes or disc brakes are covered, nor are suspension systems.

Bicycling Magazine’s Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes by Jim Langley (Rodale Press, 1999). Here is another great starter manual covering nearly everything one needs to know about maintaining your own bicycle fleet. Again, there may be more recent editions that cover disc brakes and such.

Bicycle!: A Repair and Maintenance Manifesto by Sam Tracy (Speck Press, 2005). This is an irreverent look at bicycle repair, written in a hip manifesto style. Not terribly well-arranged, but fun (if not particularly useful) information.
Bicycle!

Childrens’ Books

Anatole by Eve Titus; illustrations by Paul Galdone (McGraw-Hill, 1956). This children’s classic is about a mouse named Anatole who devises a great way to keep his family fed with the finest cheeses in all of France. It’s not about bikes, but Anatole and his friends ride bikes through the streets of Paris. Kids and adults love it!!

Super Grandpa by David Schwartz and Bert Dodson (Tortuga Press, 2005). Based on a true story, an elderly gentleman is told by race officials that he is too old to race in the upcoming Tour of Sweden. Because the old man is stubborn, he decides to do it anyway, riding through the nights and sleeping during the days. He rides 600 miles to start the race, rides 1000 miles during the race and WINS, then rides 600 miles back home. In the meantime, the old man becomes a national hero. This is one of my favorite children’s books of all time!!!
Super Grandpa

So, visit your local library, and if you have other book recommendations, we’d love to hear about them!

Ten Commandments of Bicycle Commuters

Inspired by the recent post “Drivers’ Ten Commandments“, Moe and I came up with a set for bicycle commuters. Think of it as a revised, more irreverent version of the Cyclist’s 10 Commandments as published by the League of American Bicyclists:

1. Thou shall not ride on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is for amateurs.

2. Never ride the opposite way. You may crash against real bike commuters.

3. Obey all traffic laws when and where you can. It is really embarrassing to get a ticket on a bike.

4. Always carry a mini-pump. Calling your wife or walking the bike really sucks.

5. Thou shall wear a helmet. If you value anything contained between your ears, it’s the smart thing to do.

6. Thou shall carry repair tools. Even if you never break down, you might be able to help someone else in need.

7. Thou shall remain visible. Make your “Technicolor Dreamcoat” out of bright colors, lights, blinkies and reflectors.

8. Thou shall not stink! Keep a spare deodorant at work.

9. Avoid angry confrontations. A little calmness goes a long way towards changing a motorist’s mind.

10. Thou must smile. Remember, you’re on a bike, not stuck in traffic!!