Category: Gear

New Toy

Got a new toy: a KMX Kart ST Class. I’ve been riding around the block with this interesting contraption and I get all sorts of looks and comments. Randy has actually commuted to work with the X-class. Me, I don’t want to become a tortilla. Check out how low the KMX Kart is in comparison to my Swobo Sanchez.


What would be the purpose of this Kart? I’ve noticed that I get a different kind of work out. The use of my quads is dramatically increased. This is important to me because strengthening my quads is part of my physical therapy to get rid of my patellofemoral syndrome ailment.




I’m planning to take it to the river trail one of these days, what can I say, I like being the center of attention.

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.


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.

The other day, I got a package in the mail from Dynamic Bicycles. Hmm…what is it?

Look what came in the mail!

The good folks at Dynamic offered their “Crosstown 7” commuter bike to us for testing. In many respects, it is like so many other commuter-oriented bicycles on the market — aluminum frame, mounting points for fenders and rear rack, upright riding position. Where this bike differs, however, is how power gets from the pedals to the rear hub. This bike uses a very clever and deceptively simple shaft-drive. Yeah, that’s right — no greasy chain, no chainrings to chew up your pants. In fact, Dynamic takes things a step further by mounting the shaft-drive to a Shimano Nexus Inter-7 internal hub. So, no derailleurs either!

Here’s how the bike looks once removed from the packaging and assembled (a process that takes all of 10 minutes):
The assembled bike -- do you notice what's missing from this picture?

Here’s some of the specs, straight from the manufacturer’s website:

    7005 Aluminum Frame, butted for light weight
    Aluminum front fork
    Alex DA-16 High Profile Alloy Rims (28-38C tires)
    Kenda EuroTour Tires, 700x35C, 50-85psi
    Dynamic Street Shaft Drive
    Shimano Nexus Inter-7 Gearing, All-internal (17-gear range)
    Shimano Nexus 7-speed Twist Grip Shift
    Tektro Quartz alloy brakes; front disc brake optional
    Tektro 2-finger Alloy brake levers
    Base price: $679.00

Shaft-driven bicycles have been around for over 100 years, but most were plagued by problems with complexity and durability. Not so for this bike — Dynamic’s shaft-drive assembly, manufactured for them by Sussex, appears in every way to be rugged, well-sealed from the elements and elegantly simple, both inside and out. Here is a picture of the shaft-drive as mounted on the bicycle:
The shaft drive assembly, mounted to a Nexus internal hub.

Over the next two or three weeks, I will be riding this bicycle exclusively both for my work commute and for my recreational rides. Stay tuned for a full-length review. In the meantime, check out Dynamic’s excellent “FAQ” page. Also, check out their supercool Java-based animation of the shaft drive assembly in action!

Seal Line, the makers of dry bags and packs for watersports enthusiasts, have created an “Urban” line of waterproof bags (backpacks and cross-strap shoulder bags) aimed at bicycle commuters, messengers or anyone else needing a rugged way to carry items on a bike.

The Seal Line Urban Backpack

The good folks at Seal Line recently sent me a large backpack to review. I’ve worn it on a few bike rides and have tested it in my backyard laboratory and am quite impressed. Here’s the manufacturer’s quick description:

-Volume: 2270 cu. in./37 liters
-Size: 10 x 14.5 x 23 in./25 x 35.5 x 58 cm
-QuickClip Closure
-Modular Accessory Pocket™ System
-PVC-Free 300D PU-Coated Polyester and Scrim-Reinforced Urethane
-External Pocket and Carry Handle

This bag is pretty cavernous — a large single compartment underneath the roll-down flap closure and a smallish external pocket with a waterproof zipper and rainflap protecting it. There is no internal organizer system…neat-freaks who like to keep their goodies organized need not apply. Here’s a shot of the inside of the bag:
The inside of the bag -- a really large compartment for swallowing up your goodies!

The bag’s shoulder straps and back panel are made of a dense, perforated foam covered in rubberized mesh. Both of these features increase ventilation. In addition to the shoulder straps, there are both waist and sternum straps made of nylon webbing with quick-release buckles. The waist straps tuck away into hidden compartments when not needed. Finally, there is a built-in web carrying handle at the top of the harness.
The harness system -- padded and ventilated

I loaded up this bag with a pair of dress shoes, library books, a couple of large towels and a few other assorted items and took the bag for a couple 8-10 mile rides. I estimated the load weight somewhere around 20 lbs. Overall, the bag was surprisingly comfortable — the harness padding works fine and an internal stiff plastic sheet against the back wall prevents sharp corners from digging into the wearer’s back. The harness system keeps the bag from swaying or shifting as I rode, even under high RPMs. I can’t say that about my current messenger bag, which moves all over the place even with tight cross-straps!
20+ lbs of load handled quite comfortably!

Despite the perforated back padding, you WILL get a sweaty back from riding with this bag — it covers so much of a rider’s back that “SBS” (Sweaty Back Syndrome) is unavoidable. Thank the stars this bag is waterproof, right?

And just how waterproof is this bag? Seal Line rates it as “watertight” — able to withstand quick submersions and able to float if dropped in the water. The bag’s seal is really quite simple. It consists of a stiff plastic lip on one edge of the opening and an elasticized “Quick Clip” closure that holds the bag shut. A rider simply fills the bag, presses out any excess air, rolls the bag’s top two or three times and engages the quick clip to seal it. It is a quick, ingenious and foolproof method of closure, and it will SEAL this bag!!! I filled the backpack with newspapers and proceeded to direct a high-pressure jet of water directly at the rolled seal and other parts of the bag. The bag shrugged off this onslaught, and when I opened it to check the inside, everything was bone-dry. VERY impressive!

Durability over the long haul shouldn’t be a concern. The bag’s material is tough stuff, and the seams are all radio welded over a wide margin. The materials and construction of this bag are top notch: tight, even stitching on the harness system; no odd puckers or sloppy areas anywhere on the bag.

Really, the only negative mark I can give this bag is that it is too big for my personal commuting needs –I just don’t carry enough stuff to justify such a large bag. This bag is probably better suited for high-mileage commuters and bicycle couriers who need a high-capacity bag — folks who have to carry a lot of stuff and be sure that it arrives safe, clean and dry.

Oh, did I mention this bag is B-I-G?
My handsome assistant -- 37 lbs. of love!

Check out Seal Line’s complete lineup…I am sure there’s a bag solution for almost every rider!

Russ Roca's CETMA rack

Russ Roca installed a CETMA 6 Rail rack on his Fixie, why a front rack?

So why the front rack? Sometimes I want/need a normal size bike instead of the Xtracycle to do a shoot. This front rack lets me carry a bigger load than a bolt on seatpost rack on my fixed gear in a supposedly more stable manner.

Click here to read his entire post and to view more pictures.