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Buying a Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler

Hello and welcome to The Bike Geek’s weekly cycling post. This week I am going to share my experience of purchasing a Tandem bicycle sight unseen and making my decision based on the manufacturer’s reputation. But before I start, I want to make it clear that Bike Friday did not in any way compensated me nor gave me a “pro deal” on this tandem.

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So how do you share your passion for cycling with a significant other who does not even know how to ride a bike? You purchase a tandem! You may have noticed that tandem bicycles are usually classified as “specialty” bikes so there are not many choices out there. Full size tandems are also bulky, heavy, take a lot of room and not easy to transport so that is why I went with the Bike Friday Family Tandem traveler. The Family Tandem has 20″ wheels, it is rather light and it can be quickly disassembled for storage and transportation.

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Bike Friday has two choices when it comes to tandems; the cheaper Bike Friday Family Tandem which “collapses” with the use of an Allen wrench and the Bike Friday Tandem Two’sDay. The latter being a folding tandem and about a grand more.

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Ordering my Bike Friday Family Tandem was easy; I simply visited Bike Friday’s website, clicked on the “Build this bike” button, chose my components and clicked on “Reserve Date”. A day later I received an email from Bike Friday and I got in contact with one of their sales persons who went over my order, took my payment and placed the order. A quick note about the payment: The payment is made in full, you don’t put a “down payment” and then pay the rest when the bike ships. This was aI little unnerving but again, I was relying on Bike Friday’s reputation as a bike maker.

I placed my order on July 21st and my bike did ship on the “Reserve Date” of September 2nd, meanwhile, there were no updates in between and I did have to email Bike Friday to confirm that my bike was indeed being shipped on promised date. They quickly replied confirming that my bike was going to ship and a Fedex Tracking number was going to be provided which I did receive via email. I do understand that Bike Friday is busy making bikes, but I would have felt better if a couple updates would have been communicated to me regarding the progress of my bike.

Here is a tip if you are thinking of purchasing a Bike Friday: Get on their email list. As my bike was being built, I received a couple of emails with “special offers” if you buy a Bike Friday, none of these “special offers” were retroactive to when I purchased my bike which was a bit of a bummer. Also, it does not hurt to ask your salesperson if they have any special offers.

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My Bike Friday Family Tandem arrived 3 days after it shipped since California is right underneath Oregon, I was really excited when it arrived so I opened the box to inspect the bike which was really well packed and protected.

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Overall, I am very satisfied with the purchase, my wife and I took the Tandem on its maiden voyage and it did not disappoint.

The Bike Geek: Stuff that works

Greetings fellow bike people! I am back with my weekly post, yes I know, I skipped last week’s post but with a good reason: My post sucked. After reading it a few times, I didn’t think my post was good enough for this wonderful blog. Yes, even BikeCommuters.com has standards.

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It has been nearly 5 months since I re-started riding to work after a few years of making excuses on why I could not ride my bike to work. The bike-train solution has been working OK for me, I just wish I had more biking time and the train service would be more reliable.

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When I first started my comeback, I was looking for all kinds of bike commuter stuff such as a bike, clothing, accessories and gadgets. I started with a Devinci Caribou 2 touring bike that serve me well. The bike was comfortable, agile and very versatile. Did I mention that I only paid $250 for it? Yup, only $250. As luck may have it, I found a rare Spicer Cycles CX for even cheaper at $200, this was a price that I just could not pass up. You are probably tired of reading that Cyclocross are my favorite type of commuter bikes, they still are 🙂

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I also had the good fortune that BikeCommuters.com has an excellent relationship with 2Wheel Gear and they just happened to release their new Pannier Backpack convertible. I still use this Pannier/Backpack and I still believe that it is a great pannier/backpack for multi modal commuting and the price is really hard to beat.

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I also bought a few “bike commuter” specific jerseys and a bunch of “high performance” jerseys from a big box retailer. These high performance jerseys were a fourth of the price and they have exceeded my expectations by being durable, fashionable and very breathable. I am also able to use these jerseys in the office with a pair of Jeans, a total win-win.

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To compliment the “look”, the DZR Minna shoes that I just received from DZR will also do double duty. I had a pair of DZR shoes before and they worked rather well with my clipless pedals and they look like “regular” shoes.

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Some of the stuff that did not quite work were the fitness bands, the Axiom DLX Streamliner rack, my smartphone doubling as bike computer and the hi-viz jacket.

I am pretty happy with all of my commuter stuff but I’m still missing something: A bag/pannier that will keep my lunch cool. I think I’m gonna turn this into a DIY project, stay tuned for that.

The Bike Geek: Regrets, I had a few

Hello Bike Commuters, welcome to your weekly FREE post from The Bike Geek, yes, I said FREE!!! Unlike NetZero, your weekly post will remain free forever with a few shout outs to our friends from 2WheelGear, Burley, NiteRider, Shower Pass and Wabi Cycles. These companies are awesome, so check out their stuff whenever you have a chance.

So by now you should have an idea that I love to change bikes like I change underwear, in fact, I change bikes more often that I change underwear! Long gone is the Davinci Caribou 2 and the Giant TCR SLR2 and now I have the Spicer Cycles CX and a Bianchi Impulso. Why do I change bikes so much? Because I love to experience riding all sorts of bikes; each bike has its own characteristics and personality.

However, there are times that I’ve said to myself “Self, you are a dumbass, you should not have gotten rid of that bike”. Here are few of the bikes that I regret getting rid of:

My Ibex X-Ray Cyclocross bike. This was my first ever cyclocross bicycle that I used for commuting back in 2008. This bike was unique, it was comfortable, it was agile and I configured it as a single speed and then later as a 1X9.

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I still keep kicking myself in the ass for getting rid of this bike. This is a KHS F20-R Folding bicycle. Don’t judge this bike by its size, I used to be able to keep up with the “big boys” on this little bike. It was also very versatile and lightweight at 22lbs. I really wished I had this bike now; it would be perfect for my bike-train commute.

The Ibex B27-RSR, yup, another Ibex. Check out that frame, not very common, it was great for commuting as well as a mountain biking. My Ibex B27-RSR also featured the first version of the DaVinci Hub and wild SweetSkinz tires.

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One thing that sucks about living in a condo is the lack of storage space. The DiamondBack Transporter with the Xtracycle Freeradical was truly one of my favorite bikes. I used it for commuting, mountain biking, grocery shopping and to haul my kids around on Halloween. I was sad to see it go, but the person who got it from me had a little boy who really loved the thrill of riding in the back of this thing.

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And lastly, the KHS DH200 from back in the days when I used to race downhill. This bike was built like an effing tank and I used to plow through rock gardens like nothing. I used to joke that when I raced thru the gnarly stuff I closed my eyes, said a prayer and let the bike do its thing, this bike did not let me down. Too bad I had to retire from downhill racing so it was hard to justify having a bike that would get used once a year.

How about you? Any bikes you regret getting rid of?

The Bike Geek: Stuffs

Howdy Bike Commuters! Judging by the amount of views and comments on Facebook, you guys and gals seemed to like my ding-a-ling post. I also saw an increase of fan mail offering me Viagra, Cialis and other male enhancement offers, I wonder if they misunderstood what I meant by a ding-a-ling…
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This week I tried something new on our Facebook page; y’all saw me ramble like an idiot live! Now was that fun or what! So the point of the whole “live” feed was to prove that I ACTUALLY ride my bike to work and that I do indeed take my Spicer CX on dirt trails. I am definitely not a “keyboard” bike tester.

Today’s post is all about stuffs (you probably heard me say that on the video, I know, I know, it is “stuff”, but whatever.) that I’ve ordered, read on the internets and a new gadget that I purchased.

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So we all have heard of smart phones, smart watches, smart cars and even smart water. So of course, someone had to come out with a “Smart Bike”. A particular US company caught my eye, they are called Volata Cycles out of San Francisco, CA. What is so special about this bike? It is a cross between a road bike and a gravel bike! And y’all know I love Cyclocross and gravel bikes! The Volata bike comes with all kinds of tech such as a built-in display, lights, GPS locator, Horn, Alarm, motion detector, self charging battery and a joystick, yup, a joystick.

Besides all of this tech, the bike comes with top notch components such as an Alfine Di2 belt drive transmission, carbon fork, disc brakes, Fizik Saddle and tape and crank brother pedals. So how much would this bike set you back? $3,499. Not cheap at all, but look at the specs and at all that fancy integrated technology.

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Did you know that 6% of Americans do not know how to ride a bike? Well, I just happen to be married to one of these Americans (Sorry Russian girls and MILFS, I am taken.). So how do I share my passion with someone who is afraid to ride a bike and get her to ride with me? Get a Tandem, but not just any tandem. Since I’m a condominium dweller and I own a sedan, this tandem had to be special; it had to collapse or fold so it can fit inside my closet and inside my car’s trunk. The solution: Bike Friday’s Family Tandem. This tandem is custom made in the USA, Eugene, Oregon to be precise, so I went ahead and placed an order for this tandem and I gotta tell you that Bike Friday’s Buck Olen was incredibly helpful. I can’t wait for my custom made tandem to arrive by early September.

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Back in February I wrote a post about fitness bands and how I felt that the Moov was the best choice for us cyclists. After a few months of using it, I really got tired of strapping it on my ankles (kind of made me feel as if I was on parole) so I decided to go ahead and spend quite a bit more and purchased a Garmin Vivoactive with a heart monitor.

So far I am loving this gadget, it is a mixed of a smart watch and a very robust fitness band. I will do a full review in a month or so.

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And lastly, I want to make sure that you know that my dog was indeed pissed off at me for my last choice of beer, but I have to keep my weight down and trying to drink just one stout or a porter is very hard to do.

The Bike Geek: I like to play with my ding-a-ling

Did you miss me? I can tell you did by the huge amount of email that I received last week. I just didn’t know that a lot my fan base was composed of Russian women, MILFS and ladies from f*ckbook.

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Today’s post is all about a very important accessory if you happen to share the riding trails with walkers, runners or hikers; it is the venerable bicycle bell. (Queue Queen’s bicycle race song). Featured in today’s post is Planet Bike’s Courtesy Bell, Timber!’s Mountain Bike bell, a cheap bell and the ORP smart horn.

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Let’s begin with Planet Bike ‘s Courtesy bell. I purchased this bell for about $16 and I really like the way it looks in the brass color, just look at it! It is so shiny! The bell also has a very distinctive sound and according to my very unscientific test, the bell’s sound is about 82.2 dB.

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Next is your typical cheap bell; the one you can get from eBay for about $2.99 or as a gift from your LBS when you purchase a bike. This little bell is not elegant, it is cheap looking but it is loud enough at 80.6 dB.

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The Timber! Mountain bike bell sparked my interest because it is unusual, just look at it… it doesn’t even look like a bell. It also does not work like a regular bell. The sound of this bell is triggered by the bike’s continuous movement, great while going down a bumpy trail without the need to use your finger to trigger it. The sound is also not as loud as the other bells at about 72.3 dB but it does the job. Another cool feature of this bell is that you can “silence” it with the use of a lever because the constant ringing will get annoying. The price of this little bell is $20 bucks, not cheap but I like it.

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And lastly, I purchased this horn for $49.99 and I have mixed feelings about it. I like the fact that it doubles as a front blinkie light, it is rechargeable and it looks sort of cool. But the issue with the ORP is its sound; people are not familiar with it and they won’t get out of the way. People think that is a ringtone coming from my phone or some sort of video game. Everyone knows the sound of a bell but not some sort of alien sound. It is also pricey, $50 bucks was a little painful to pay for what ended up being an average blinkie. If you look at the sound charts, the ORP was indeed the loudest but not close to the 96 claimed decibels.

Here is a short video of the sounds:

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A little note about my unscientific test: The Sound Meter app was used to measure all 4 items, the mic was held at about 10 inches away from each bell/horn at an ambient noise level of 52.5d dB.