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Tag Archive: bicycling

We’re a checkpoint in the Yehuda Moon/Cyclelicious Virtual Alleycat!

We just signed up this evening to serve as a “checkpoint” for the Kickstand Cyclery Virtual Alleycat Powered By Cyclelicious. Here are details straight from the source:

Announcing the Kickstand Cyclery Virtual Alleycat Powered By Cyclelicious. Race begins Monday, December 6 2010.

Cyclelicious and the Kickstand Cyclery have teamed up for a winter race: The Kickstand Cyclery Virtual Alleycat. When the race begins next Monday morning, you’ll race other participants from Internet checkpoint to checkpoint as you visit various bicycle websites. Prizes will be awarded for speed, agility, and creative comments left at each checkpoint.

Prizes include:

◦GT ZuM Commuter Bike from Performance Bicycles ($550 retail value). This aluminum hybrid design features low standover height, 8 speed drivetrain with a single chainring, and Kenda Kwik Trax tires for use on pavement or dirt.

◦Pedaler Clothing Trinity Hoodie ($125 retail value). Practical streetwear for use on and off the bicycle features reflective trim and back pocket.

◦The Lost Cyclist book by David Herlihy.

◦Yehuda Moon merchandise including shirts and prints (winner’s choice).

Watch for the race to start next Monday, December 6 at 7 AM Pacific / 10 AM Eastern time. You may pre-register here for free.

More details to follow on our end — we’ll be setting up our “checkpoint” over the weekend and may even have clues to help you find it!

Short-Notice Event: “Critical Manners” comes to Tampa

Sorry about the short notice on this one…got the announcement last Saturday but didn’t have time to put it up ’til just now. Elizabeth Holland, Tampa-area advocate behind this alternative to Critical Mass, shares the following information:

The first ever “TAMPA CRITICAL MANNERS RIDE” is set for Wednesday at 5:15 PM with the following meet-up spots:

— University of South Florida at Pine and Alumni Dr. – the parking lot across from the Botanical Gardens.
— Downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park, Ashley and Zack St.) This ride is point to point. It ends at Sligh and 30th (or peel off to your house or favorite watering hole along the way…maybe the Refinery, Independent or other Seminole Heights favorite.) We hope to get a good group leaving downtown.

We are also looking for volunteers to lead 30-minute rides from other locations. Rides can be point to point OR out and back.

The purpose of these rides is to improve the VISIBILITY of cyclists on our streets by engaging in safe, sane interactions with drivers. Coexistence! We will be law-abiding and friendly. Please have appropriate lights, helmets and wear reflective clothing, if possible.

I might just be able to meet up with the downtown group — if so, I’ll bring my camera and document what I can. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there?

(Properly) Lock your bike.

A while ago, our own staff writer Elizabeth shared this video on Facebook. It’s a good primer for learning how to lock your bike up, and Hal has a great personality. He’s really looking for just a few things: Your wheels and saddle should be well-secured, and the frame itself should be securely held to a large stationary object with a heavy-duty U-lock or chain. He has some other tips, too. Watch this:

I do risk analysis and other security-type stuff for a living. In the suburbs, some of this stuff can be a bit overkill. San Francisco, LA, Detroit, Chicago and NYC have some pretty mean streets where the traditional axiom is that it’s not a question of if you will have a bike or parts stolen, it’s when it’ll happen. Bicycles are a commodity on the street. Pretty much any working bike can be traded for $25-$50 worth of… *ahem* “goods” and “services” on the black market. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bike-shaped-object from the department store or a high-quality cyclocross bike with fenders, racks and lights. That being said, knowledgeable thieves are willing to put a lot more effort, risk and planning into really nice bicycles that can be parted out or sold to a fence for a bigger payday.

Hal’s comment on quiet streets generally holds merit. Thieves prefer to hide in plain sight, and chaos is king. They can thrive on predictable activity as well if they’re sure they have plenty of time to work on your bike without being noticed. Make sure your parking spot isn’t too far out of the way.

Cable locks are okay for holding your wheels or saddle together, or for quick in-and-out errands, but totally useless if you will be leaving your bike unattended for more than a few minutes at a time. Hal said that you can’t steal a bike when the owner’s right there watching it, so being able to wheel your bike right into your office is the best policy, but a lot of us don’t have that luxury. I bought a length of heavy-duty towing chain that required a 36″ bolt cutter at the hardware store to chop it from the spool, then passed it through an old mountain bike inner tube so it doesn’t scratch up my frame. It’s probably 10 pounds worth of chain, so I leave it at work, and I lock it with a quality lock that has a shrouded, shim-proof hasp. It’s long enough to pass through both wheels, the frame, and a bike rack.

Security is hard, though, and thieves’ motives are hard to predict. It’s true that security devices only buy you time. I’ve experimented with almost every kind of bicycle lock imaginable, and all of them can be broken in just a few minutes by someone who has been casing your bike. Usually, thieves are looking for something easy to steal so they can sell it or trade it quickly to get what they really want. If your bike is more secure than the bikes around it, you’re probably safe. If someone really wants your bike specifically, it’s pretty hard to keep it safe. Maybe it’s the only bike around. Maybe it’s the nicest one on the block. Maybe they want the challenge, or maybe they’re your evil twin whose mission in life is to foil your bicycle commuting adventures.

Regardless, if you ever thought that no one would want your bicycle, or that you could leave it unlocked and unattended for just a bit, you’re probably wrong.

Editor’s note: we have a couple of other security strategy articles that may be of interest to you. The first covers lock considerations — the real gold is in the comments area. Take a look at it by clicking here. Also, thanks go out to dedicated reader/curmudgeon Raiyn for reminding me of this article in the comments area below.

The other article covers wheel security and retention strategies…wheels can be incredibly easy to steal and the loss of just one wheel will, of course, leave you stranded. Check out that article here.

Ride With Us to the Bicycle Bash!

Folks from the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and Bikecommuters.com are partnering up to host a group ride out to Flatwoods Park, home of the 2010 Bicycle Bash by the Bay. Here are the details:

On November 7, 2010 we’ll meet at 8AM and roll out promptly at 8:30 from the Seminole Heights Garden Center, 5800 Central Avenue in Tampa. From Flatwoods, the group will leave for the return leg to the Garden Center at 2:30PM from the SHBC tent. Distance will be roughly 40 miles roundtrip at a pace of 15-17 MPH.

Due to last year’s experience riding such distances on the road with a group, we must add: given the distance and pace, a well-functioning road bike is the only practical alternative for making the trip.

As with all rides hosted by Bikecommuters.com and SHBC, helmets are strongly encouraged. See you there!

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Interbike 2010: The Electric Revolution!

As we reported back in August, E-bikes were supposed to be a huge presence at Interbike this year. Since this was my first year attending the massive tradeshow, I have no way of gauging whether or not electric/e-assist bikes were so visible in previous editions, but I can say with confidence that they were EVERYWHERE in 2010. It seems like every major manufacturer had one or two e-bikes on display, with a number of large booths displaying a number of different models. And I saw every setup under the sun: batteries hidden in the racks or built-in to the frames, hub motors, friction-drive setups or motors built into oversized bottom brackets. I took a ton of photos of various e-bike flavors, but don’t have a lot of information to accompany them. In many of the photos, the manufacturer will be visible. Take a look at some of the stuff we spotted:

Here’s one from Achiever Bike that incorporates an electric-assist motor in the oversized bottom bracket shell. The battery pack is under the rack and the drivetrain is mated to the new NuVinci N360:

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Here’s a sharp-looking cruiser by Pedego, with large rear hub motor. Pedego had a big display with a lot of varieties to choose from:

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Here’s another by Pedego, this one a trike with some smart cargo boxes instead of a typical wire basket:

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Here’s a friction-drive electric assist kit by Pedalix — their “Hidden Power” system . It won a gold award at this year’s Eurobike, and appears to be mountable to most bicycles. In this photo it is mounted to a Specialized Langster NYC:

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IZip had a large floor display with a number of e-bike setups. I liked this one in particular due to its stout rear rack, “angry bee” paint scheme and color-matched basket on the front. The battery pack on IZip bikes is hidden within the frame’s downtube.

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This is an e-bike by Kilowatt. One of the things I noticed about some of the more “complete” e-bike offerings was that the smart companies were choosing the tried-and-true BionX system. More on this in a bit…in the meantime, check out this Kilowatt:

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We’ve already seen the Torker Interurban-E drop-bar touring bike in a previous post, but here it is again…so nice! Alfine rear hub, disc brakes on both ends, sweet pedal assist…a great setup:

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Here’s a sneak peek at the Urbana electric-assist bike. We’re hoping that we can get an example of this beauty to test for you:

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Urbana (a Bikecommuters.com “Editors’ Choice” winner for 2010) also chose the BionX system for this model. As I was talking to a respected industry representative, I asked “what do you think is holding the U.S. back from embracing electric and electric-assist bikes the way Europe and the Far East have?” This rep had an interesting take: three or four years ago, electric bike kits flooded the market in the U.S. Many of them were comprised of sub-standard or immature technology and were prone to early failure. This sort of turned off many potential e-bike purchasers and the current crop of bikes using the (relatively expensive) BionX system is an answer to those earlier problems. The BionX has a great track record and is worth the extra investment, or so our industry rep indicated…she might be onto something, because as I mentioned earlier, BionX appeared on all the top-shelf models.

Here’s an interesting one…spotted in the Stromer booth. I can’t find my notes, but this one appears to be a folder with the battery hidden in the center of the pivoting portion of the frame:

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The above is just a sampling of the myriad e-bikes on display at the Sands this year. Some rough general observations — most of these bikes have a range of about 20 miles with heavy e-assist use/40 miles or so when the user pedals more. Top speed of the e-assist motors hovers around 20 mph (the top speed might be regulated in different states; check your municipal and state laws for specifics). Battery voltages range from 24V to 36V, and charge times vary but with most in the 4-5 hour range. And most importantly: e-bikes are coming! This segment of the market is maturing rapidly, and as battery technology improves, this segment is just going to get bigger and bigger.

Of course, there is some evidence that not all U.S. consumers…or even sellers…are “getting it”. One Clearwater, Florida-based retailer is selling moped-style e-bikes as “DUI Scooters“. Looks like we have a way to go before things get more serious in the electric/electric-assist bicycle field….