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Gear

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.

Got any odd tools?

I know that many of our readers do their own bicycle maintenance and repair, and I am sure a few of you have collected tools over the years.

If you feel like sharing, I would love it if you could email me photos of the really odd, obscure tools in your collections. If you are interested, try to keep the images under 2MB, provide a brief description and any related stories. You will receive FULL credit for your submissions!

Here are a couple of mine; from top to bottom they are a Campagnolo pedal dust cap and axle spanner, a Park Tool sidepull brake spring “tweaker”, and the legendary Maillard “Helicomatic” freewheel lockring remover/spoke wrench/bottle opener.
Some of my odd spanners

If the above email link doesn’t work, send pics to “ghostrider(at)bikecommuters(dot)com”.

I look forward to receiving your photos and stories!

New Toy

KMX Kart ST
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.

KMX Kart ST

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.

KMX Kart ST

KMX Kart ST

KMX Kart ST

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.

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.

Dynamic “Crosstown 7” Shaft-Drive Bicycle

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!