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NuVinci Hub Review

We were pretty stoked to receive a NuVinci hub from our friends from Seattle Bicycle Supply to test. We met the guys from NuVinci at Sea Otter and we were very impressed with the hub.

Product Description:

The NuVinci continuously variable planetary (CVP) is the first viable CVT drivetrain for bicycles and a revolutionary, new alternative to conventional derailleur and fixed-gear internal hubs delivering a totally unique riding experience. The ride is incredibly smooth, allowing the rider to shift “gears? while pedaling, coasting, or at a standstill. Its elegant, simple design delivers all the advantages of planetary gear sets without the limitation of fixed speed ratios, without wide gaps between gears, and without jolts or jerks to the rider’s legs and lower back.

How does it work?
Check out the Video:

Installation:
We received a wheel with the hub already installed, cables, controller and other needed hardware. I decided to install the Hub on an Ibex B27-R, the Ibex B27-r is Mountain Bike frame with 135mm rear spacing and 26″ wheels with a derailleur hanger.

The instructions of the installation manual are well written and the illustrations helped a lot with the installation. Although my level of mechanical expertise is not vast, I was able to install the NuVinci Hub on my own.

Installation was basically seamless, except for the chain length, I had to use a ‘half-link’ so the chain could be properly tensioned.

Hits:The strongest point of this hub is how easy it is to use. The controller doesn’t not feature ‘number of gears’ but an intuitive display of a road incline. A flat line means you are riding a flat road and you can really ride fast, a ‘hill’ means that you are ready to climb. As you turn the controller to adjust the gear ratio, you will notice a smooth change on pedal tension, there is no clunk or that annoying sensation of a tug on your legs.

Flat line = Go Fast !

Hill = Get ready to climb!

Since my commute is mostly flat, I did experiment riding uphills with the Hub. Here’s were the hub excelled. When you climb on a geared bike, you can be stuck on a higher gear that makes it difficult to climb because you are ‘mashing’ on the pedals or a lower gear that makes you spin too fast. The NuVinci Hub allows you to find that ’sweet spot’ where you feel comfortable not mashing the pedals or spinning too fast.

Another huge plus is the reliability of the hub. Weather in So Cal is not as extreme as in other parts of the country, but the people at Fallbrook (designers of the hub) have tested it extensively at -20 C, or -4 F, with no problems. Since the hub is fully enclosed, rain nor mud are an issue.

Drawbacks:The biggest drawback of this hub is it’s weight. At a reported weight of 11 lbs for the entire system, weight weenies need not apply. The cost of the hub is also another drawback, expect to pay over $400 bucks for the hub.

Where can you buy it?

Your Local Bike Shop (LBS) should be able to order either the hub or a prebuilt wheel from Seattle Bike Supply or you can buy a bike like the Batavus Adagio-Nuvinci or the Ellsworth The Ride that have come with the NuVinci system installed.

Recommendation: The BIG question is: Does the reliability and easiness of use counter the weight and price of hub? From a Bike commuter point of view, the answer would be yes. As far as weight go, most bike commuters are not really concerned with a commuter bike’s weight (see our poll), reliability is top priority. Price? The hub is currently installed on a $99 Ibex B27-R frame, so even with a price of $400, the bike is about $550. Again, most of you would pay more than $500 bucks for a reliable commuter bike. For those ‘extreme’ commuters out there that ride snow/rain/mud or shine, the hub is worth the investment. For those of us that don’t ride extreme climates but want a wide range of gear ratios, value the reliability of a bike and have a little extra on our wallets, the NuVinci hub is worth considering.

We would like to thank Seattle Bike Suppy for giving us the chance to test the hub, and to Val Kleitz for answering questions about the hub. You can also read Val’s review of the hub by clicking here.

L.A. has worst traffic; drivers lose 72 hrs a year


The Los Angeles metropolitan area led the nation in traffic jams in 2005, with rush-hour drivers spending an extra 72 hours a year on average stuck in traffic, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The metropolitan areas of San Francisco-0akland, Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland, and Atlanta were tied for the second most gridlocked areas, according to the study by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Drivers in those three areas spent an extra 60 hours on average during peak periods, defined as 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the study found.

But drivers in other regions around the country were not much luckier. The report (http://mobility.tamu.edu) found traffic gridlock worsened in all 437 large, medium and small urban centers in 2005.

“What causes congestion? In a word, ‘you.’ Most of the Mojave Desert is not congested,? wrote report authors David Schrank, associate research scientist, and Tim Lomax, research engineer.

The Texas Transportation Institute is an arm of the Texas A&M University System in College Station, Texas.

In the last 20 years, travel has increased by 105 percent in metropolitan areas but road capacity — measured by freeways and major thoroughfares — has only risen 45 percent.

Travel by public transportation in 85 urban areas climbed 30 percent in the past two decades.

The study found that drivers in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, area had average delays of 58 hours.

San Diego drivers faced an average delay of 57 hours, and Houston drivers had an average delay of 56 hours. Detroit was in a three-way tie with San Jose, California, and Orlando, with average delays of 54 hours, according to the report.

Traffic forced U.S. urban dwellers to travel 4.2 billion hours more and buy an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2005, for a total cost of $78 billion, the study said.

That worked out to 220 million more hours and 140 million more gallons of fuel than in 2004, with the total cost rising $5 billion.

Solving the problem not only includes focusing on “critical? corridors and easing choke points but making work schedules more flexible and building more areas where people can walk to work, the study said.

Courtesy of Yahoo News.

Richard Cranium


Lance, Anthony (not pictured) and I headed to Seal Beach for a quick 30 mile ride. Lance is testing the KHS Flite 300, so we wanted to see how it would perform as a recreational road bike. As usual, I take my KHS F20-R for these rides. The bike always commands attention, but today I had a roadie ask me the following:

Q. What would the bike like to be when it grows up?
A. The bike doesn’t need to grow up, it is able to keep up with the bigger bikes.
Q. (To Lance) Aren’t you embarrassed of being seen riding with this guy (me)?
A. mmmmphhh (biting my lips so I won’t say what a pompous a$$ the guy is)

Anyhow, I can’t blame the guy for being bitter, could it be that he is still frustrated at the Tour de France fiasco? or maybe that Landis was found guilty? or maybe he forgot to take his EPO this morning…

In times like this, I’m proud to say that I’m a Bike Commuter first, a Mountain Biker Second, and a roadie last.

Homemade Headset Installation Tools

Last year, I had the opportunity to write a how-to article for the good folks over at C.I.C.L.E. Since then, I have amassed a small collection of hardware (about $15.00 worth) that makes a truly universal homemade headset cup press and crown race installer.

The parts of my handy dandy headset press:

The parts of the basic press include a selection of large washers, a piece of 3/8″ threaded rod (sometimes referred to as “allthread�?), a pair of flange nuts and two thick nylon washers to reduce friction between nuts and press-washers.

Don’t forget the nylon washers — it makes things a whole lot smoother:

As in the previous article, I must set out this disclaimer — I didn’t invent this…the concept of a homemade cup press has been around for a long time. I’ve seen versions using only washers and versions using sections of PVC pipe as cup adapters. However, I have discovered a piece of hardware in the plumbing department of my local home-improvement store that really makes this setup a piece of cake to use — some type of copper reducing fitting. Here is the heart of my system:

These little beauties taper down from about 2″ down to about 7/8″. Since they’re made of copper, they are way softer than the typical cups you might find in a vintage or modern headset — even lightweight aluminum cups. And, they are universal — they’ll fit the tightest vintage 1 inch threaded headset…oddball 1 1/4 inch headsets from the mid 90s…modern 1 1/8 inch headsets…heavy-duty One Point Five downhill headsets…even old one-piece bottom bracket cups (Ashtabula) found on cheap beach cruisers and old BMX bikes!!

The press is set up like this: grease up and place the headset cups in the top and bottom of the frame’s headtube. Grease and insert the copper fittings and stack appropriately-sized washers on top of those copper fittings. Pass the allthread through the headtube, slip the nylon washers down onto the washer stacks and thread on the two flange nuts. Here is a picture of how the assembly should look:

Then, it is a simple matter of cranking the nuts down with an appropriate wrench (sometimes you will need two wrenches if the cups are really tight). The copper fittings help to keep the headset cups straight as they enter the headtube. Go slowly — sometimes the washer stacks will slip to one side and they should be pushed back into place with your fingers. Crank those cups in until they bottom out and you’re done!

Now, all that remains is to assemble the rest of the headset and ride away into the sunset…but wait! What do you do about those stubborn fork crown races? Well, back to the plumbing department — you’ll need a length of PVC pipe and a plastic endcap. Bring your fork with you to make sure the pipe fits over the steerer. I wound up using a piece of 1 1/4″ thinwall pipe for this fork. Wrap the bottom 2 inches of the pipe with electrical tape to keep it from splitting, slip the crown race down, slip the pipe on and pound it down with a hammer like so:

When the bottom of the pipe becomes mushroomed and beat up from pounding, simply saw off a half-inch and rewrap with tape. I’ve used this same pipe for about 10 headsets…it’s steadily getting shorter, but the whole thing only cost about a dollar. Remember also that if you have to hit the pipe more than 5 or 6 times to seat the crown race, it’s better to take the race off and “dress” the base of the fork’s steerer with a needle file to remove excess paint and weld splatter — the crown race should just pop on and should NOT require brute force.

There, you’ve saved a bunch of money by doing it yourself — no expensive tools required, no trip to the bike shop. Doesn’t that feel great?

MtnBikeRiders.com

Power Grips Update

I installed the Power Grips Pedals on RL’s 925 and all I can say is that I hated them. Before you send me hate mail, please remember that the I’m riding the 925 as a fixed gear not as a single-speed freewheel. I was able to strap one of my shoes, but for the life of me, I just couldn’t strap the other. I was trying to do all this while riding around my non-traffic congested block, so the thought of fiddling with the pedals while riding with traffic just didn’t set well.

RL and I switched bikes again and when I removed the Power Grips pedals I left them on my truck’s bumper. Yeah, you know what happened next.. bye bye Power Grips. Too bad because I was going to give them a go on my other bikes. So what am I going to install on my Swobo Sanchez? I have a pair of Crank Bros Quattro pedals that are not getting riding time, this means that I’m gonna have to find some Vans shoes that are clipless compatible.