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End of Year Rabbity Wrap Up, the Top 11 for 2011!

Ok, okaaaaaaay.  So Ghost Rider the Whip has tasked me with the year-end update to all ye mighty Bike Commuters!!! For all you non-daily readers (myself included, no excuses, just the truth yo) consider this the ultimate BikeCommuters.com Cliff Notes of 2011.  Be sure to click the extra links, so many goodies embedded in this one.  And since I love LISTS as much as tweens love Ryan Gosling and puppies, here is the Top 11 Bike Commuters Highlights (and then some) from the Year of the Rabbit …  Let the countdown begin.

My expression of my love for LISTS can only be captured with this moment!

11.  Helmet on a Diet: Among many products, including the O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket, Levis 511 Commuter Jeans, and others from Chrome, Planet Bike, Velo Orange, and Ergon, we reviewed this half-weight BMX/skater style melon protector – the Pryme V2 Lite! Removable pads allow for easy cleaning, adjustment, and with 13 vents will keep you less than sweaty. RL even said this Pryme helmet on a diet was so light he forgot he was wearing it!

10. How To’s and Ghetto-rigging: Several articles this year featured DIY and easy commuter tips like how to apply Stealthy 3M Reflective Tape to your bike frame!  Check out the before and after shots in this follow up article.  We wrote about how to make a Bike Train, last minute tips for carrying groceries home, and a friendly reminder on lubing your chain!

9.  Winterize-Me! 2011, the year of the rabbit is also the year of the snow-bunny.  All-year and all-weather rider Elizabeth has cranked out some popular tips and posts on layering, waterproofing your getup, and winterizing your manos for the harshest winter climate commutes.  Two-wheeled transporting readers like yourselves named this article a top fave in our 2000th post giveaway contest!  Check out Layering as Easy as 1 2 or 3! Elizabeth makes us warm-weather writers look like sissy lalas, she’s a BAMF commuter no doubt.

8. Hear Ye, Hear Ye: From you the readers, we had a handful of commuter profiles in the Year of the Rabbit including my posts from Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Illinois.  Thanks to Willy Campbell, Karen Voyer-Caravona, Hermes Pagulayan, and Robert Guico for keeping it real.  We love to hear from the readers themselves about their best rides, funny stories, tips, and setups…

Bike Commuter Profiles Rabbit Round-up, 2011 photocrap edition!!!

7. Travels & Adventuretimes: Jetsetting, touring, and leap-frogging through time and space, the BikeCommuters staff writers adventured far and wide including visits to Bike Shares in France, Interbike 2011 in Vegas, vacation commuting in Chicago, and historical Bike Museums in Ohio!  I guess we could say we’re bunny-hopping through time and space.  We hope to have more Bike Commuters staff travels and adventures next year; maybe we can meet up with you local readers for events or rides!

6. Five-O, Five-O! RL roped his friend, “Officer Ben” into chatting about the DOs and DON’Ts of bikes in the city.  For more bike list-lust and Five-O insight, try this article titled “My Conversation witha  Cop about Bike Traffic and Safety Tips.”  As always with officers, remember your attitude makes a difference!

5. Commuter All-in-One Review –We Reviewed some non-commuter specific bikes this year (like the Xootr Swift and the Redline Urbis) but Jack pulled the lucky straw and got his heine on this Breezer Uptown 8 back in Spring (full-on Wabbit Season)!  The Uptown 8 came fully-loaded with all kinds of commuter goodies: rear rack, chaincase, dyno-powered lights, full fenders, internal shifting, bell, high spoke count wheels, water bottle cage, and a kickstand!  And all for $999.00 MSRP, a low maintenance sturdy steed for city riding requires only one stop at the LBS.  Jack gave this all in one commuter a HIGH FIVE of awesomeness.

4.  Planet Bike Superflashy-flash TURBO! Hoo-hoo, you caught me!  My soft spot for all things blinky lights and hi-viz leads me to this post by Vince.  The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo has 1-Watt a licious power of red LEDs and a attention-grabbing flashy pattern that earned an “A” from Bike Commuters!  Read the full article here.

3.  Nice Paint Job, oh and Nice Bike Too – RL reviewed some single speed and fixed gear rides this year like the Torker KB2 and the 2011 Redline 925.  The KB2 is a fixie with a 2-speed kick back hub and a pearly green paint job.  The Redline 925 is a single speed city slammer, excellent stopping power in the breaks, a smooth ride, clean lines, and commuter staples like fenders, chain guard, toe clips, and rack mounts!  For those of you in the market for a single speed or fixie ride, put these mamas on your bike lust list and ride these velos non-stop like bunnies in springtime.  Now for some bike p0rn with the Redline 925 in “Pearl Dark Brown”:
and in the KB2 Torker in “sparkly green”!

2. Ok, So Interbike is Kinda a Big Deal –  So we can’t pass up the year of the rabbit without highlights from Interbike 2011!! RL was all over this event sorting through the good, ze germans, and the goofy to make us feel like we were all there too!  He even bumped into some other traveling bike bloggers!  There’s a lil som’n som’n for everyone at Interbike…What about Urbana Bikes commuter with belt drive?  And for us nighttime commuters LED by Light’s got light kits with turn signals?  How ’bout you been broke phi broke all year and wanna haul a lotta stuff with an affordable Dutch Cargo bike?  Sign us up!
1. 2000th Post Giveaway! The countdown ends with a big-timey milestone, the 2000th post hit us in December 2011.  Thanks to all our staff writers this year and in years past that made it possible!  We celebrated with a giveaway of awesome stuff as readers posted their favorite articles on facebook and in the comments. It was really cool to dig up older articles and see feedback from readers who don’t usually post (without enticement of free bike goodies).  Hopefully, our winnder John Leddy from Burlington, VT is enjoying his Banjo Brothers backpack, Planet Bike lights and accessories, a Bikecommuters.com tshirt and sticker pack and a Chainspirations zipper pull.
Special thanks go to Banjo Brothers and Planet Bike for helping sponsor our prize giveaway.  So here’s the part where we say goodbye to the Rabbit and hello to the dragon!  Thanks for sticking with us Bike Commuters readers, Ride ALOHA!

Photocredit to Papajka on Flickr! Take that you toasty rabbit!

Book Review: “Cyclopedia” by William Fotheringham

A couple of months ago, the publicity manager for the Independent Publishers Group offered to send a review copy of William Fotheringham’s new book Cyclopedia: It’s All About the Bike (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011). Funny how that title keeps popping up..since Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike, a number of cycling authors have used a variation on that title. Why, it was only a few short weeks ago that I reviewed ANOTHER book with a similar title!

Author William Fotheringham gained wide acclaim for his biography of legendary British racer Tom Simpson in Put Me Back on My Bike, and has quite the list of cycle-related “palmares”: cycling correspondent at the Guardian, launch editor of Cycle Sport, founder of procycling magazine, writer at Rouler Magazine. The man lives and breathes cycling history…so I was eager to read Cyclopedia.

Cyclopedia

I was NOT disappointed…this book is a treasure trove of cycling/bicycle racing facts and anecdotes — including many things I had not heard of. From Uzbek sensation Djamolidin Abduzhaparov to “The Flying Yankee” Arthur Zimmerman, the book simply blew me away. As Fotheringham is a UK-based writer, the content leans a bit heavily toward British racing legends, but rest assured, there is something for everyone here. But, it’s not an exhaustive encyclopedia — it focuses on the highlights (and some lowlights), as a true encyclopedia of bike racing would take several volumes. Throughout the book, there are diagrams, maps, timelines and tables to help illustrate some of the subject matter. My favorite? French drug slang…a colorful glimpse into the sordid past of professional racing.

I consider myself a fairly well-read amateur bike historian, and I welcomed learning new tidbits along the way. Best of all, Cyclopedia got me interested in tracking down additional bike history books to read further on some of the subjects Fotheringham touched on. For anyone interested in learning more bicycle and racing history, this is a great jumping-off point. Cyclopedia deserves a place on any bike fan’s bookshelf.

I also got a copy of Fotheringham’s Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi for Christmas, and so far I am enthralled. Stay tuned for a review on that and some other bikey book goodness in the coming weeks.

Reflective DIY “Get Visible” – Photoshoot

3M Scotchlite tape - what a stealthy reflective cheap trick!

Okay Midnight Riders… it is wintery and darker than usual at the end of our work days this time of year.  In the spirit of digging up things in our past like you all have been posting for our Bike Commuters 2000th post Giveaway, here’s the follow-up to our article on Reflective DIY Tape! So: for Raiyn & his stealth reflector bling power and all the other Bike Commuters out there, I finally got ahold of a photomaker and snapped some photos!  I also got ahold of a magic wand. Check out the the effectiveness of the easy bibbity-bobbity-boo Scotchlite 3M reflective tape Makeover:

Version 1: No flash, living room lights on.

Dayman.

Version 2: With flash, living room lights off, awesome magic sparkle power ON.

Fighter of the Nightman! aAAAaaaa!

ShaBAM:  bright at night, but the 3M reflective tape blends in during the day too!  For more archive digging, check out my favorite BikeCommuters.com gateway articles, Moe’s Rear Blinky Comparo or Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney’s Planet Bike 1W Blaze Review. Stay bright, night commuters!

Hasbro... maybe they will make a "Lite-Brite" movie since they already made "Transformers"

Panties in a Twist… Just Not Comfortable Biking!

Have you ever been in a situation that was so ENTIRELY awkward, uncomfortable, and near puke-inducing that the only way to get out of there fast enough would be to go back in time and put yourself in a sleeper-hold!?  I have.  As my train of thought is more like a train wreck on an acid trip than a linear thought process, I ask that the lovely and becoming Bike Commuters readers bear with me… I promise journey will end with bikes abounding!

This photo is a carrot to keep you reading on...

Ultimate Fail: The other day I decided to try to be a supportive co-worker by joining my colleague (let’s call him “Bloop” for the sake of anonymity) after work in his sport of choice: ULTIMATE. FRISBEE.  Bloop is a new co-worker at the office who bikes to work (he has single-handedly dismantled our 100% female bike commuters record) and is as enthusiastic about playing some Disc as I am about riding some Bike.  Bloop teaches a beginner workshop on how to play Ultimate at the Ala Moana Beach park only 5 minutes away from the office by bike.  Let’s all recap that I am anti-sports involving balls, equipment, and coordination of handling said balls or equipment.  I generally abstain from flying discs and balls but decided to make an exception.

I roll up to this beyotch (Macedonian pronunciation of “beach”) and see 30-40 people in cut-off tanks running, chasing, discing, throwing, and yelling simultaneously.  No noodley-floppy, dorktastic, non-disculated newbies eating shit and listfully prancing in the sunset like I had envisioned.  I frantically scan for Bloop who is sitting on the sidelines waiting to “sub in”.  Well shoot me in the faccia (Italian for “face”)!  I had shown up on Hardcore Pick-Up Ultimate Frisbee Day instead of Newbie What’s a Frisbee? Day.  Before me, the spartan kings of all unconventional, hippie, drunken-athlete sports were tearing it up on the beyotch.  Bloop insisted that this was “really no big deal, and nobody cares if you suck! It’s all just for fun!”  RIIIIIGHT.  I attempted to throw and catch some disc with Bloop for a solid minute (backhand, forehand, WTF??!!!) and then almost vomited on myself right before I grabbed the Xootie, hurriedly shouted goodbye and rode home.  Panties in full twist, I had to stand on the pedals the whole way back…  In a panic, I then plunged head first into the jacuzzi for an Ultimate cleansing, figuring the high temps would kill off the awkward germs.

Faccia is Italian for Face.

Back to Bikes: There are some individuals I know who will again remain nameless (for the sake of this article, let’s call them “Lumps”) who must feel the same way about cycling!  One of my aunties is a self-proclaimed Lump: she attended UC Davis in the 70s and wanted to fit in with all the bikey college students.  Auntie Lump was so uncomfortable with the act of cycling that she bought a bike just to walk around campus with it everyday!  Other Lumps tell me all the time, “No way in HELL I’d get on a bike… I haven’t been on one of those contraptions since my abacus broke!”  Some people have no desire to try, claiming phobia of two-wheeled objects, that pedaling gives them carpul tunnel, or taintal allergies keep them from perching their sensitive bums on bicycle saddles for longer than 5 seconds.

To me, and many bike commuters, riding a bike may have been a bit uncomfortable at first… the first time I used hand brakes instead of coaster brakes, road drops instead of flat bars, or clippie shoes have all put my bike shorts in a temporary twist at one point in time.  But eventually we come around.  I honestly have ZERO desire to ever come around to Ultimate Frisbee, or doing something weird with a “disc” that they call a Land Shark.  Are there Lumps out there with equivalent sentiments towards bike commuting?  You guys must know a few…  In the Lands of Nether, biking is an everyday means of transportation.  If that’s the case then maybe Tron is the the land where Disc is an everyday means of beating the living crap out of your enemies.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with it, Bike Commuters.  For those of you who made it to the end of this crack party ride, I leave you with some images from my Bike P0Rn presentation last summer.  Thanks to the readers who contributed their photos!

Me likey your Bikey!

Review: My Xootr and Me! Xootr Swift

Ooh, the Xootie is lookin muy caliente with this Glamour Shots photo filter!

Hola Bike Commuters!  The Xootr Swift and me, (or as I refer to him as the “Xootie” because it rhymes with “cootie”) and I go way back: to August of 2011!  Xootie arrived at my sister’s place in L.A. by ground shipping in a shorter than average cardboard companion.  Just in time to liberate me from the four-wheeled nonsense of my vehicluar-obsessed family in L.A.  Digression: Last year, they insisted that they drive me seven blocks from Grandma’s house in Santa Monica to Auntie’s house in Santa Monica. I took my jugular hostage with a plastic Taco Bell spork in order to escape a 3-minute trip in an oversized SUV driven by my crazy half blind aunt and took off on the Xootie.

Okay, back to the REVIEW: So what does Xootr have to say about the Swift?  For a company that usually makes scooters, I was impressed!  For $749, you get a good commuter bang for your buck.   Here is the obligatory spec list with bullet-points, because they do it better than I can on the website:

Xootr Swift Fold Bicycle Features

  • A folder that rides just like a regular bike
  • Nearly all parts are industry standard…no weird and incompatible stuff.
  • One of the lightest folders out there (25lbs.)
  • Ready to go out of the box. We’ve made the hard choices for you.
  • Super stable, rigid TrusFold frame system
  • Available as either an 8 speed or single speed (black only)Note:Single speed version is sold out.

Some things I’d like to +1 include extra-sturdy frame, solid as a rock!  As the seat post is the pin that locks the rigid frame, it’s a larger diameter than normal.  So, I often locked it with a cable knowing that if some lolo decided to steal it, I’d be SOL.  Another +1 for the fact that it has similar geometry to a “regular” bike with full-size wheels.  Even though it has 20″ wheels, it doesn’t feel crunchy or cramped up like you’d think.  In fact, here’s a craptastic photo of the Xootr next to my Bumblebee Scott road-monster at home:

Due to lack of photo-taking skills, I had to edit in pink. Handlebars and seat height real close to the road bike set up.

Also, in as well as, in addition to, the Xootr Swift folding bike proved a worthy travel companion, as I have stuffed him into everything except the overhead compartment for carry-ons: the back of a Toyota Corolla trunk, large rolly wheeled suitcases, under the tables at a booth in a craft fair, the back of an eight-passenger State vehicle, tiny apartment elevators, and a dingo.  The trick with this folder is that the seat post acts as the locking mechanism for the bike, making it as easy to collapse as fainting baby goats.  The handle bars also have a quick release pin making the bike even midgier for the back of my co-worker’s Subaru.

No need to fold down the seats with this spectacular Xootie nugget!

The Xootie Swift has been tons of fun around town!  I’ve used it for every commute day and even lent it to a visiting friend (who complainted of taintal discomfort, but I blame that more on a weak sack than the engineering of the bike).  With it’s BMX-sized “bulletproof” wheels, it is a whippy mo-fo.  I’ve casually bunny hopped some spam musubis and quickly detoured from road to sidewalk to bike path in order to avoid traffic congestion during rush hour.  With the 8-speeds it’s golden for cruising on errands or commutes up to 12 miles and taking Diamondhead uphill! Hook me up with an easy gear ratio any day: I’ve got nothing to prove!

Curbs or Spam musubis, nothing stands in the way of Xootie Swift's BMX wheels.

I have had all kinds of comments shouted to me in downtown while waiting at lights or turning corners, “Nice blue on your bike” or “Cute, your bike!” or “Fancy bike, where’d you get dat?”  Confessional Digression: I have grown fond of the Xootie, but due to it’s small size  I felt like a clown on the way to a kid’s brthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese the first couple of weeks. I have always wanted to commute on a folding bike but never had a small enough apartment that it didn’t make sense to get the big kid wheels for the same price.  I’d been eyeballing origami cheap $200 single speed or 3-speed suckers since the original purchase of the Kona Dew back in 2007.  Claiming no technical expertise on the subject of bikes but lightyears of experience in good old-fashioned bikey fun, I was won over by the Xootie as it’s a mini-wheels are nostalgic of childhood, and it’s a very practical commuter choice.  Oh, the SHAME.  It’s like hanging out with my dorky little brother who is actually a lot of fun and more like me than I’d like to admit.

Spark Notes: The Xootr Swift comes in S,M,L and XL sizes, and looks more like a scooter than a bike.  Surprisingly, it’s a quick commuter considering the size of the wheels.  Eight speeds makes tackling hills a no brainer! Three months of commuting through Chinatown, with it’s streets shimmering with crushed glass vials, and no flats is a good sign for the stock tires!  I give it five thumbs up for portability, easy to fold, assemble, and carry, flashy blue color, and whippy maneuverability like Willow Smith.  I give it one big toe down for initial dork factor of riding a bike that looks like a scooter, and grip-shifters (yucky to fix when they get stuck!).  If you like rooting for the underdog, go for the Xootr Swift!  For a more tech-savvy review, check out this one from Velo Bike Parts in October 2011.

Xootie in the sky with diamonds.