Category: Featured

One of the guys that runs Utilitycycling.org, Josh Lipton, has been tapped by BikeCommuters.com to provide us a few guest articles that our bike commuting readership would benefit from. Josh is also employed (he’s the President) by a few bike related online retailers: www.BikeTrailerShop.com, www.BikeBagShop.com & www.BikeKidShop.com.

If you’re not too familiar with their sites, I’ll give you a simple breakdown of each.

BikeTrailerShop.com-They have a huge selection of bike trailers like the BOB, Burley, Extrawheel as well as the world famous Xtracycle. BikeTrailerShop.com can pretty much equip your bike so you can use it more of a utility vehicle to carry large loads or if you simply want to get away to do a bit of S24O (pronounced “Es-Two-Four-Oh?).
BikeTrailerShop.com

www.BikeBagShop.com-This is a great resource for bike commuters in general because we all have to carry our stuff. You can pick up racks, panniers, messenger bags, handle bar bags, frame bags,backpacks and so much more!

www.BikeBagShop.com & www.BikeKidShop.com. -Personally I love this site. They have all sorts of accessories for your child to make their bike riding experience a great one. The site offers, bells, training wheels, Xtracycle child accessories, child bike trailers, iBert child seat as well as helmets.

Each site is pretty user friendly and have pretty much the same feel and look. The product categories on the left hand site of the pages allows the user to find what their looking for quicker.

Reader Merritt Raitt shared the following video with us. The premise is:

Portland bike commuter and dedicated Tour de France fan gets up early to watch the TdF live, but as the stage ends he realizes he is going to be late to work. His exciting ‘race’ to work is narrated by Tour de France TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin.

I got a HUGE kick out of this video…I can relate to it on so many levels, and I’m pretty confident many of you will, too. Enjoy!

wttw clip

Our local PBS station featured winter bike commuting last night on their show Chicago Tonight.

Wherever you’re riding this winter, happy winter biking! And as one bike commuter commented at the end of the segment to all those motorists, ” Give us a break, ok?” (I read “give us a brake”.)

What’s your biggest challenge or joy of biking during the winter?

We received the Melon Slice a few months back to test. Melon Bicycles provided us a demo unit and we were not paid to provide this review. Here’s our disclaimer.

melon slice

What: Melon Bicycles, Slice 20″ folding bike

Price: $599

Specs:
Frame 7005 aluminum-octagon shape
Fork 7005 aluminum
Folded Size 34″L x 27″H x 13″W
Folding Time 15 seconds
Weight 25.5 lbs
Suggested Rider Height 4’-8? to 6’-3?
Maximum Rider Weight 240 lbs
Crankset SRAM Truvativ Touro 52T
Chain KMC HG50 108L
Hubs Formula FB-31FQR, Formula FB-32 RQR
Spokes 14G Steel, 12mm brass CP nipples
Rims Weinmann ZAC20
Tire Kenda K909, 20?x1.75?
Shifter SRAM MRX Pro with display
Rear Derailleur Sora 8 speed
Cassette Shimano CS-HG50-8, 12-25T
Brakes Promax Alloy V brakes
Brake Levers Promax 2.5 Finger Alloy
Pedals VP folding pedal
Saddle Cionlli
Seat Post 34×550mm
Handlebar 25.4mmx500mm, swept 6 degrees
Stem 300mm folding

Riding the Melon Slice is actually pretty fun. What I liked most about this bike is the fact it is super nimble. If you recall riding a BMX bike when you were a kid, just think of the same type of agility and handling, but in a grown up way. Since the Melon Slice has a shorter wheel base than the average bike, its handling is really quick and responsive. Popping wheelies and the occasional bunny hop is pretty easy on the Slice. So why would a bike commuter be doing those tricks? Well in my commute, there are tons of obstacles such as pot holes, trash, debris and even animals. The Melon Slice was awesome when it came to last minute directional changes.

The ride experience of this bike was very pleasant. It’s a smooth riding bike and if needed it could mash. When looking at this cute little folder, you’d think its going to be a bike that your grandmother would be riding. In fact I had some people call it an “RV Bike.” Not sure if you knew this, but folders are pretty popular with RV folks since they store pretty easily in tight spaces. Anyhow, the Melon Slice is quite a sleeper. I mean just look at it, it’s cute. Nothing about it says HI PERFORMANCE. However, that all changes when you start pedaling. The 52t chainring gets this bike moving like no one’s business. Combine that with the 8speed Shimano 12-25T and this bike will fly. There really isn’t much effort needed to start reaching speeds over 20mph.

Shifting with the SRAM MRX grip shift was pretty accurate. However, towards the last week of testing, I noticed that the rear derailleur needed to be slightly tuned. The Promax brakes are pretty powerful. They can stop me without a problem, and I’m a big guy, 208lbs (all muscle).

One gripe I have would be the width of the handlebar. It measured at 20″ wide. I prefer to ride with a minimum of 25″ bars. Besides, I like the extra leverage I can get with wider bars. It makes climbing out of the saddle easier. So there are two options: you can invest in an expensive set of wider bars Pricepoint.com has one for $10, or you can get a set of bar ends to help with the leverage when climbing.

The Melon Slice is very durable frame. It’s gusseted for extra strength and it’s pretty stiff for a folder. Even though this bike is pretty strong and durable, it does have a weight limit of 240lbs. So that means no big boys or girls. The folding ability of the bike makes this thing pretty easy to store. Folding the bike only takes 15 seconds and it’s pretty self explanatory.



I know what you’re already thinking, “what about fenders and racks?” Well, you’re in luck. Melon Bicycles have already addressed that issue. They sent me a fender and rack set that they have available on their site.



The rack has a 20lbs capacity. But I noticed this thing wasn’t really meant for the large seat post since it was giving me some play when I would load it up. I really dig this rack for its storage.


There was play on the clamp. The fittings that came with it were too small.

All in all, the Melon Slice is a pretty decent folding bike. I like how fast this thing goes and the gearing was just right for hills and flats. Its’ a very nimble bike, handling is exquisite, the wheels stayed true and the shifting stayed pretty tuned up until last week. But that’s nothing that a few turns of the adjuster barrel couldn’t fix. So for $599, this folder has all the benefits of a small commuter/folding bike, but it also has the capabilities to keep up or pass other riders with bigger bikes.

BikeCommuters.com (west coast) received the RYD Masher back in September to review. I just have to make sure I note that this product was sent to us as a demo; we did not get paid for the review. Here’s our disclaimer.

What: Red You R Dead Masher

Specs:Frame – 100% 4130 Full Cro-Mo
Fork – Full 4130 Cro-Mo, straight rake
Headset – Fully Integrated, Neco Alloy 1-1/8″ Threadless
Handlebars – RYD Alloy 2″ Riser Bar, 480 mm width
Stem – RYD Alloy 60mm extension
Grips – RYD 120mm
Seat – RYD, Steel Rail
Seat Post – Alloy 26.6 x 300
Crankset – 3pc. Lasco Alloy Forged 165mm, 46t
Chain – KMC Z410 white
Pedals – Alloy Body 9/16″, plus PLASTIC cages w/ double leather straps
Front Rim – Maya 650c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Rear Rim – Maya 700c Alloy double wall 32h, w/ black stainless steel spokes
Front Hub – KT Alloy 32h, loose ball, nutted
Rear Hub – KT fixed/free Alloy 32h, loose ball nutted, 16t fixed cog
Tires – Kenda Road Racing, 700x23c

Price:$599

I’ve been riding the Masher for a few months now. This bike isn’t your typical commuter bike that we often review, the kind that has fenders, racks and etc. But I wanted to get some time on this fixed gear rig because one of the favorite commuter bikes I’ve ever ridden was my old Redline 925 and I commuted with that as a fixie.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this bike. Let me start off with how the Masher felt on the road. Since this thing uses 4130 Cro-mo, I looked forward to the smooth riding experience. Sure enough, the Masher lived up to the promise of a nice riding steel bike.

With the 650c front wheel, I was concerned that I would be leaning over too much. But to my surprise, the smaller front wheel didn’t affect my riding position. One thing I did enjoy about the 650c front wheel was the lack of toe over-lap. That’s pretty important especially if you’re riding a fixie, you don’t want your front tire clipping your foot as you’re making a turn.

You may have already noticed that the Masher doesn’t come with brakes. Since this bike really was built as track/trick bike, brakes were not included. Even if I wanted to install a rear brake, I probably wouldn’t because the sidewall of the wheels are painted and having a set of brakes grabbing the rim wouldn’t be too effective nor would it be pretty. So what does that mean for a boy like me who is used to grabbing a fist full of brakes when I need to stop? Fortunately, I’ve had prior fixie riding experience so I already know how to slow down my pedaling or skid stop if necessary.

Some of you are already thinking, “what about the fenders and rack?” Nope. This doesn’t come with them. Besides, the Masher doesn’t have the ability to accept traditional racks — it’s a track bike. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use P-Clamps to install them. Fenders… I’m sure you can fit in some nice Planet Bike fenders in there with the use of P-Clamps.
However, there’s a certain level of “cool” that you would lose if you were to add those accessories. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to buy the Masher, you’re not likely to put on those things just because it would make it look goofy. Anytime I needed to carry stuff, I just busted out my handy dandy Banjo Brothers Commuter Back Pack.

Since the Masher is a fixie, there are less things to go wrong. During the last few weeks of testing, the bike never had any major problems. However, it did develop a slight creaking when I would “mash” (get it) on the pedals. That problem was quickly remedied by greasing up the threads on the pedals and adding a bit of lube on the chain.

As far as handling and performance, the Masher is quick and nimble. It’s hard to describe, but when I would mash on the pedals, to get into a sprint, the bike would respond. One of the things I’ve noticed with bikes is that aluminum frames tend to have a snappier feel when sprinting, but with steel, I can feel the rear end trying to catch up with the rest of the bike. But with the Masher I get that same snappy feel as aluminum.

The gearing on the Masher was a bit too big for my liking. The 46/16t drive train made it a bit tough to start at the stop lights. I think a 42/15t would have been more ideal for all around use. The area I live in is relatively hilly. In fact there’s one hill by my place that I usually use to test bikes on. When I took the Masher up this hill, I really struggled with the 46/16. I know for a fact that the 42/15 combo works really well for this climb and it was tall enough to get some good speed on it.

Overall, the RYD Masher really is a great bike. It’s very comfy, it is super attractive and it has been reliable throughout this time. I think for the price of $599, you’re getting a great ride. Just think about it, 4130 cro-mo, all white (I dig white bikes) and this is the kind of bike that will need very little, if any, maintenance. I understand that a fixie or even this trick/track bike isn’t for everyone, but for those who are in the market for this style of bike, you really can’t go wrong with the Masher.

Ride You R Dead Masher

By the way, for those that aren’t too familiar with fixies or fixed gear bikes, here’s a great video that showcases them: