Tag Archive: commuter bike

Friday Musings: What Got You Pedaling?

Utterly Shameless Bike Love Month: May 2012

New Recruits: May is just around the corner, and so the creeper approaches: National Bike to Work Month!  And, like every fun-loving, zero-emissions, two-wheeled, “coffee + eggs = bike fuel”, transportation cyclist, I always wonder if this year’s Bike to Work Month will bring new commuter faces beyond the month of May.  Yes Velodactyls, this is what keeps me up at night (either that or the heaping tablespoons of Nutella I shoved in my face post-dinner).

How can we get more people to commute by bike? May 2012 will be a barrage of Bike to Work Week challenges, workshops, rallies, and bikey SWAG, as local bike organizations shotgun their way through possible Spring recruits.  Our own star staff writer Elizabeth posed the question in 2010: We all know bike commuting is the best thing since the Jammy Shuffle, so why aren’t more people doing it?  I gotta admit, I’m on bike commuting like a woman on smack, so I surely don’t know the answer!

Calf-Envy, this is RL when he commutes sans SPDs.

Minority Report: As the minority, commuter cyclists face the same puzzled looks from co-workers, semi-sweet concerned lectures from loved ones, and blatant stares of calf envy (hello Mr. Officer, I’m up HERE) as we think to ourselves – if only you’d know the glories of the dark side, you’d be out of excuses and on a bike too!  Nevertheless, we’ve had some progress.  Last year, this Atlantic Cities article reported increased bike ridership across the U.S.  (If you like colorful graphs, you should definitely click the link to this article).

Overall, a universal increase U.S. Bike Commuters over the past decade! I'll take it!

Converting to bicycle commuting is all the rage in U.S. cities, if the proliferation of blogs devoted to the topic is any indication. But we wanted to know: Just how big have increases in the percentage of bike commuters been in specific cities? Are there regional differences? Cities where bike commuting isn’t catching on at all? We surveyed 55 major U.S. cities to see if we could find the answer.  While there are stark differences across individual cities, taken as a group these metros saw an average increase in their percentage of regular bicycle commuters of 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.

The chart-laden article concluded that Portland had the highest percentage of trips taken by bike at 5.8% with a 222% increase from 2000 to 2009 (Don’t make me graph battle you, Portland.)  I can say for my office, the percentage of riders has increased since I started three years ago from 1 out of 16 to 6 out of 16!  HUZZAH!

Majority Report! Best Monday of my life: 7 bikes for 10 employees at the office... fist pump.

So, we all agree we need more bike commuters on the road to alleviate traffic congestion, stress, obesity, arthritis, pollution, drugs, guns, high fructose corn syrup, and other bad stuff (we can solve world peace with transportation cycling, right!!?)

My question today is what got you pedaling?  We weren’t all born on fetus-sized bikes so it had to start somewhere!  A lot of bike commuters have shared our first bicycle memories, but what converted you to utility cycling?  Was it a Bike to Work Month challenge, an enthusiastic bike-loving friend, a hand-me-down bike, a car in the shop, or an inspirational blog on bike commuting (hint, hint!)?  Safety in numbers means that bike commuters need more bike commuters!  So, muse along with us and share your thoughts!

~Happy Friday Bike Commuters.

Best parking spot at the beach - that's what's got me pedaling!

Friday Musings – Top 3 Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories?

Well, well, well… the weekend is just around the corner, just in time for FRIDAY MUSINGS!  Or… just in time for you to get your Fandango tickets to the Hunger Shames.  Before the spring time blooms assault your sinuses with a full-on allergy attack, I wanted to get all sentimental and mushy-gushy over Bike Commuting like the leftover V-day chocos I found in my desk drawer at work.

Bike Commuting in Spring - Bring on the Sunshine!

We have posted a bajillion reviews on Bike Commuters accessories, gear, and products that range from frivolous to frugal over the past many moons.  The “basic needs” of each cycle monster for an enjoyable commute vary according to the rider and the location.  I’m the first to admit I have an emotional (let’s hope it’s not physical) attachment to my bikes – giving them names, identities, and custom makeovers… So that made me wonder, what about accessories?  If you could only take three items with you on your commute each day, what would you choose!?  (And your bike is a given….!  We could go on and on about what makes the perfect commuter bike, but I that’s a whole ‘nother love affair.)

Here’s my top three Must-Have Bike Commuting Accessories to get us started:

RL loves the Whitey Von, but any backpack will do!

1)  Any kind of backpack – I used to be all about the rack, but have switched back to the backpack in the past few years!  I love backpack.


So low-tech, but it WORKS!

2)  Watch face taped to my handlebars – So unimpressive and borderline ghetto, this watch is a must for me because it’s easy to read in the morning to determine how much time I have left to get to the office.  I taped it to the mount where I used to keep my wireless Cateye from the days of trying to be “fast” – clockin’ 12 mph baby!


I love BLINKY LIGHTS more than helmets, pants, or chalupas.

3)  Blinky Lights: One rear and one headlight, these are a must for me, I have several kinds around the house and will grab one red and one white everyday.  A must-have for me as I am a blinky addict.

So cycle ladies and gents, do you have any top three accessories that you can’t commute without?  Share with us, and in the spirit of Effie Trinket, “Happy Bike Commuting! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

Enjoy your weekend, bike commuters!

HBL Commuter 101 Class: Free-Dolla-I-Make-You-Holla!

Well Herro there, Bike Commuters!  Just a quick bloggy-blog announcement on an awesome free class this year put on by  Hawaii Bicycling League:  Commuter Cycling 101!   Know anyone who’s had their panties in a bunch, trying to get psyched up to ride your bike to work, school, or the grocery store, but low confidence on the streets is holding them back?  Hold on to your spandex, Oahu cyclists, because HBL is sponsoring free 2-hour courses that cover all the basics of cycling in traffic!  You could even win door prizes like a gift certificate to local bike shops – HOLLA!   What more could you ask for?  You could be getting PAID in bikey giftness while brushing up on commuter tips and rules of the road.  Also, all UH Manoa students will receive front and rear lights due to a generous sponsorship from the University (Thanks for the tip, Cycle Manoa).  Come on guys, (from previous comment I know there’s at least three Oahu readers out there) – the weather is nice all the time, so drag your roommates, kids, and better halves out for a weekend course!  For more information, dates, and sign ups, check out  Or, read this:

Good 'Ol Frank teaching the Safe Cycling Course at IT&B

Do you like riding your bicycle? Want to bike commute to work or school, but scared to ride in traffic? Want someone to teach you how? Then join us for Commuter Cycling 101!

This free 2-hour bicycling course begins with coverage of safe cycling practices in a classroom setting, then moves onto a secured parking lot to practice riding drills, and finishes with a group ride through the UH area combining classroom knowledge and road skills traversing an urban environment. The course will cover topics including: your rights as a cyclist, rules of the road, equipment safety checks, lane positioning, and more. Classes are taught by League Certified Instructors of the League of American Bicyclists. Over 175 prizes totaling an excess of $2750 will be given away throughout the duration that the course*. All UH Manoa students will also receive free bicycle light sets. Giveaway sponsored by Island Triathlon and Bike, McCully Bicycle, Bikefactory, The Bike Shop, Boca Hawaii, and Eki Cyclery. Lights provided by UH Student Athletic Fee Committee. Funding provided by the Hawaii Bicycling League through a grant with the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Cost: FREE!!!
Eligibility: Must be 18 years of age or older, class size limited to 12 students/class
Requirements: Must have a functional bicycle with front and rear brakes and a properly fitting helmet.
Time: 1PM – 3PM
Location: UH Manoa campus, Moore Hall room 119
Download the Flyer

Ok, not really related, but I'm throwin' in the link to this article anyway.

Commuter Cycling 101 course Dates for 2012 the year of the dragon kick off this weekend and are hosted on weekends through April, check the website for details.


SAT Jan 21 SUN Jan 22
SAT Jan 28 SUN Jan 29

Redline Urbis Review

Before we start with this review, realizes this may not be a traditional “commuter bike,” but it may be of interest for folks who have no need for racks and fenders and want to throw in some fun while riding their bikes to and from, school, work, coffee shop and etc.

One of the things I wanted to accomplish with it was to bridge a generation gap between teens, 20’s, 30’s and 40 year old riders. We chose to do this with the Redline Urbis. At first glance, some may think this bike could be labeled as a “hipster” or a “fixed gear” bike that couldn’t be used for bike commuting. The goal with this review was to see if a single bicycle model from a large manufacturer could reach out to 4 age groups. With that in mind I recruited additional riders to help me with the review.


The first is my nephew Ethan A. of Southern California. He’s a 15 year old high school student and has been riding fixed gear bikes for over a year. I figured he’d be perfect person to review this bike from a teen’s perspective. By the way, Ethan is a bike commuter who rides his bike to and from school every day.

Here’s his take on the Redline Urbis:

Most fixed and or singlespeed bikes that I’ve ridden come with the standard [rim] brakes. However, the Urbis does not; one reason this bike is unique is because it comes with a front disc brake that allows a rider to do tricks such as bar spins and stoppies. Not only does the disc brake make this bike unique, it comes with deep V rims which fit 35mm tires; this design makes the wheelset more durable than standard wheels. The solid chromoly frame and fork with these tires makes the bike almost impenetrable.

The things I loved most about this bike are its standard fat tires. Obviously there are fixed gears with fatter, but most of those bikes are customized. Unlike customized bikes this one comes with some pretty fat tires. I also enjoyed the BMX cranks and low gear ratio; it made the bike run smooth and easier to perform tricks on.

This bike is probably one of my favorites to ride. However, there are a few things I didn’t like about it. Probably one of the more exciting components of the bike disappointed me the most. The disc brake in the front was neat, but because of the geometry of the bike you can’t get full clearance when doing bar spins.

I’m giving the Redline Urbis 8 out of 10. A few things could be changed to the bike, like making the bars out of steel instead of aluminum. It’s light, but can break easily especially if you’re tricking on the bike. Overall this bike is great; I would recommend it for any
fixed gear newcomer that is serious about tricking.

Next up is Corey Pond of Costa Mesa, Ca. He’s in his mid 20’s and is a member of the Race Team and is an Expert Downhill Racer who is also a bike commuter. Sorry for the bad photo, camera wasn’t working all that great…

I’ve never been one for fixie bikes. They always just struck me as the next weird trend; one which I never cared to wrap my head around. Here is a brief walk-through of my mindset.

RL wants me to ride a fixie objectively? I’ll do what I can to help…but I’m not going to like it. OK so I don’t like fixed bikes but that one’s pretty cool looking. It’s some awesomely burly combination of a road bike and a BMX bike, and it looks like it could handle a North Shore drop.

Dang, this thing feels as solid as it looks. I bet it’s obnoxious to ride though. I’ll probably run into a parked car or something. Haha, I’m doing a track stand like all those tightly-pantalooned, bearded fellows do at stoplights. Oooh, these things wheelie quite nicelyyahhgeezhowdoyastop!?!

I’m just gonna use the hand brakes until I get used to this thing. So this thing sure is fun to ride. I wonder how much I can use it before one of my friends see me on it.

Well, I can’t really hold out any longer because this thing was pretty fun for short stints at a time. I think the first thing that really drew me to the bike was how awesome it looks. The deep rims, the crossbar handlebars, the BMX stem, all these things made this bike look like it could rival the skills of a cockroach when it comes to surviving a nuclear bomb. The front brake line is routed right through the stem for some limitless barspin action, and guess what’s connected to the end of that brake line? Yup, it’s a rotor.

Maybe in the hipster world you lose a few cool points for having that, but I don’t know because I never read the rulebook. In my opinion, the disc brake is a much needed supplement to the back-pedal braking and it accents the aesthetics of the bike really well…not to mention, it makes for some good stoppies. This bike was undoubtedly built to throw-down on some rough freestyle sessions. I had a lot of fun riding the Urbis and I can’t wait to get my hands on another one soon to work on some new fixie skills.

The next person to review was yours truly. My name is RL Policar, of Southern California. I am 34 years old and I too am part of the DH Race team, by the way, I’m am a Bike Commuter.
Redline Urbis

Much like Corey, when I first laid eyes on the Urbis, I was genuinely impressed on how well this bike was put together. From the wheels to the BMX parts and even down to the tires, the Urbis looked rugged. To my surprise, the bike rode exceptionally well. It has to be one of the smoothest fixed gear bikes I’ve ever ridden. The gearing on it is great for snapping out of a dead stop and getting across a busy intersection. However, I found my self spinning out and couldn’t maintain a speed faster than 20 mph. Then again, on my commute, I rarely get over 15mph on the streets. But I’m guessing that a smaller cog in the back would have fixed this issue.

The geometry of the Urbis was very comfortable. It wasn’t too aggressive nor too much like a comfort bike. I found that it was just right for my work commute or even short trips around town. Stopping power was pretty powerful considering you’re on a 4″ rotor using mechanical Tektro disc brakes. Though I’m not that great at it, I was able to easily execute stoppies (apply front brake, lift up rear wheel).

I wish I had a photo of this, but one of the things I did to test out the durability of the Urbis was to take it down some stairs at a local park that had an amphitheater. On a regular single- or multi-speed bike this task wouldn’t be too hard. But on a fixed gear, it was down right scary! I couldn’t level out my legs so it could absorb the bumps, instead I had to pedal as I hit each step. A total of 30 steps I rode and once I hit the bottom, I checked the wheels if they were still true…sure enough, they were.

For bike commuting, one of my favorite bikes to ride is my Redline 925; I simply love that bike. But when I was testing the Urbis, the 925 never left my garage. Not only was I having a blast riding the Urbis, but I tried to find any excuse to go out with it….”What hunny? You need some eggs from the grocery store?” Before she could even respond, I was already on the Urbis riding towards the market. It really is a fun bike to ride. My only gripe would be the saddle. From what I can tell, the Redline Pivotal saddle that comes with the Urbis is something that you’d traditionally see on their BMX bikes, thus less comfort since BMX riders seldom “sit” on their saddle. Other than that, its a FUN bike that I’ve used to commute with.

Our last review is Art Aguilar, of Costa Mesa, Ca. Art is in his 40’s, an Expert DH Racer for He too is a bike commuter. We wanted to get his perspective on the Urbis since he was the older of the product testers. We weren’t sure if this genre of a bike would fit well with a more mature rider.

Well I was once again asked for my expertise on testing our next bike, and thought “alright, what will it be: a new kick butt DH bike, some new 6 inch all mountain bikes, or a ultra lite XC bike?”

Team rider Corey and I were asked to meet RL at this ultra cool coffee house in the OC where he was to give us the bike for testing, but what was presented to us was a single speed bike. I’m like thinking to myself “Ok this is no cool DH, AM, or XC bike — this is a single speed fixie for crying out loud! I don’t ride these things; they’re for kids that wear Capri cut offs or jeans so tight the boys can’t breathe!”

Ok, I like all things bikes and fixies as they call them; they are kind of cool if they are on a oval track doing pursuit.

I am NOT wearing tight jeans and a super tight shirt to look the part for this test — no way, no how. I have spoken!!!


This is what RL wanted for the test: one from a teen guy, one from a guy in his twenties, another in his thirties and one from the “OLD GUY” — gee, thanks buddy. Why an old guy? Does anyone my age ride these things, oh and by the way RL thanks for giving me the age of 42, it made me feel good ( I’m 46).

I always told myself secretly I will never ride one of these things, I mean come on these guys ride a bike where its all about cutting down the bars to where there is none and personally I think its a fad ( A 4 or 5 year fad so far.)

As I said the bike is cool looking and it has a front disc, cool paint job, and I like the parts that are spec’d with it. The ride was very smooth and it accelerates out of track stands. I really liked the way it sprinted, and when I got it up to speed it cruised well, climbing was pretty decent thanks to the gearing. Stopping was adequate, the front disc had to break in a little and it doesn’t have that great full stopping power of a hydraulic brake, but it works and for around town I say they’re great. The riding position is an upright one and this is good for commuting especially with the mini BMX bars for those riding attacks between cars.

What I didn’t like about this bike (Well it’s not the bike, it’s me): I don’t ride fixies! I almost killed myself coming to a couple of stops forgetting there was no freewheel and nearly threw myself off the bike. SCARY.

The thing I had to do was install a freewheel cog, seeing that the Urbis comes with a flip flop hub ( $12 buck investment); I then went on another ride on the same route and felt way better on the ride.

There are only two things I would change on the Redline Urbis: one I did (freewheel) and the other is a more comfortable seat for commuting and general riding.

All in all do I like this bike? Well, yes I do. Would I buy one? Well, maybe. It’s still the last type of bike I would put in my quiver, but I do have a better liking for bikes of this genre now and I do like the Redline Urbis.


Well, there you have it — a unique take on a unique bike. We figured having four age groups of bike commuters who have different riding styles could ultimately enjoy the same genre of bike. I think there’s a possibility. Don’t get us wrong, fixies or singlespeed bikes for that matter aren’t for everyone. Bikes without fenders cause such a stir with some of our readers, let alone a fixed gear bike. To make this simpler, we’ve broken it down to bullet points on the highs and lows of the bike.

Why would you get the Redline Urbis?

Durable wheels
Great styling
Flip Flop hub, ride fixed or single speed
Simple, no nonsense bike
Conservative color doesn’t scream “LOOK AT ME!”
Smooth ride
Price-within “affordable range” of $549.

Why you wouldn’t get the Redline Urbis?

Not your genre/style of bike
Doesn’t have fenders or racks
You don’t like to ride single speed or fixed

As you read from all riders, they all took in something different. Some observations were almost identical such as the great gearing for coming out of a stopped intersection. The saddle was a universal complaint, but the wheelset was one of the biggest plus factors for the bike. Between the four riders testing the Urbis, not a single mechanical issue arose during the testing period. The wheels are still true, none of the bolts came undone, bearings are still spinning nice and smooth, no drive train issues. The Urbis is pretty bombproof for a “commutable bike” and don’t forget, it’s super fun. We understand that there’s not a single bike type made for every rider out there. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that a fixed gear bike is the right one for a 50 year old woman nor is a cargo bike the best choice for a teenager. It all comes down to personal preferences. Go with what you like, but keep your mind open to other genres of bikes, you never know, you may end up liking something totally different from what you’re used to.

FTC Disclaimer

Lube it or Lose it

I had a chance to hang out with Mike Kaelon, who handles Rockshox Service, as well as Quality Control and Research/Development for KHS Bicycles. We got to talking about chain lube. Check out what he had to say…

Mike Kaelon (left), Vince Calvillo (right)
KHS Visit 2011

BC: Which type of lube is best for chains?

Mike:As long as they are used regularly, most lubes work great. The only exceptions that I’ve seen are wax-based lubes, like White Lightning. Those will work OK, but you really have to work at keeping the wax from building up on the outside of the chain, which can prevent any new lube from getting inside the links. If you use wax lubes like most people do, which is to just apply the lube and forget it (which is why most people use those lubes, because it doesn’t get dirty), the wax starts to build up, and eventually all you end up doing is putting new lube on top of the old build up, instead of getting it worked down inside the links.

BC:Is there a brand you prefer?

Mike:I prefer lighter lubes for most road and dry off-road conditions. I usually use TriFlow, mainly because its cheap, and it also works really well for cables. Other chain lubes don’t work as well on cables, so its just more convenient for me to have one bottle that does both. For wet/muddy conditions, I like thicker lubes that stick to the chain better, and form a barrier that helps to prevent water from getting inside the chain. Finish Line Wet works really well, but most “wet” or “extreme condition” lubes work just as well. Those also work well for dry conditions (and actually make the chain run quieter), but tend to attract more dust, so your chain may get dirtier. So I prefer to match the lube to the day’s expected riding conditions.

BC:How often should we lube our chain and how often should we clean/degrease our drive train?

Mike: For road, I lube my chain every 100 miles or so, while for off-road I lube it every single ride. The best method is to first wipe the chain down, and get it as clean as possible just using a rag. Then put a drop of lube on each link, then spin the crank backwards a few revolutions to work the lube in, then wipe the chain down. If the chain was really dirty, I’ll do this a few times. Its best to do this after a ride, rather than right before a ride, as that will give the lube a chance to flow into all the gaps in the links, and excess can run out. Then before the ride, wipe down the outside of the chain to get rid of any excess. If you do this regularly, the chain never really gets too dirty or gunked up, and removing the chain to clean it, or having to use solvents isn’t necessary. In fact, many of the chain manufacturers recommend never removing the chain to clean it, and to never use strong solvents. Most chain lubes have mild solvents in them, and can be used to clean the chain if it isn’t too gunked up. Nothing except chain lube ever touches any of my chains, and even when they’re almost worn out, they’re almost as clean and shiny as when they were brand new.

BC: What are your thoughts on WD40? Should that be used for chain lube?

Mike: WD40 actually isn’t a lube, its a solvent, and breaks down lube (The “WD” stands for “Water Displacement”). Its best used for cleaning up really dirty chains, but its best to never let the chain get that bad in the first place. If you do use it to clean up a dirty chain, you should immediately use a real chain lube to finish the job. Instead of WD40, I prefer to use TriFlow in a spray can, and spray it onto a rag until its soaked, and use that to clean up the chain. That works almost as well as a regular solvent, but lubes the chain at the same time as it cleans it, instead of removing all the lube.