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Tag Archive: Commuter Bikes

Interbike 2013: New Motiv Shadow E-Bike

Remember those Motiv e-bike spy photos we showed you a couple weeks ago? Well, we got to try the new Motiv Shadow out in person at the e-bike paddock just outside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Motiv’s goal is to produce a pedal-assist e-bike that is a bit more stylish than other offerings, and we think they’ve succeeded — the Shadow takes many of its styling cues from the hot urban cycling market, including deep V wheels and color-matched decals, cable casings and other accessories.

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The Shadow will be available with the choice of three battery types: 36V, 36V Long Range, or a tire-smoking 48V. Those batteries are coupled to a rear hub 500 watt geared brushless motor. The bike was a blast around the paddock area!

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Motiv also had a dashing hot-pink e-cruiser for testing:
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Stay tuned for an upcoming detailed review of the Shadow; RL took delivery of a tester the other day and is enjoying zipping around the streets of SoCal as we speak!


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Interbike 2013: Even more gravel bikes!

This is a followup to our earlier gravel bikes article. Once we made it onto the show floor at the Mandalay Bay convention center, it was time to capture pics of some other hot new gravel bike models (and an old favorite).

First up is the Raleigh Tamland, new for 2014 and in two models:

Tamland Two
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(Editor’s note: a reader corrected us on the photo we had described as the Tamland One, when it was actually the Roper. I only got a poor background shot of the Tamland One, so simply imagine a different color scheme from the above bike — sky blue with yellow and white accents — and a slightly different component spec.)

The Tamlands sport a Reynolds 631 steel frame, slightly longer chainstays and a lower bottom bracket shell than typical cyclocross bikes. They’re lookers…but I can’t remember what differentiates one from the other. They’re so new they don’t yet appear on Raleigh’s website, and I neglected to take detailed notes. I believe it has something to do with the component spec, with the Tamland Two having Ultegra rather than 105 (but don’t quote me).

The updated Roper also has the gravel-grinding goods:
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Here’s a detail shot of the rear dropouts…lovingly sculpted and ready for racks and fenders:
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Next is the Co-Motion Pangea…billed as a monstercross/offroad global touring machine with 26″ wheels and a ton of clearance for fat rubber:
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Here’s the Surly Straggler, described by the company as a disc-braked version of their very popular Cross-Check. It comes in a very lovely shade of metallic violet:
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Finally, the granddaddy of them all, the Bianchi Volpe. Introduced in 1996 as a touring bike, the Volpe has slowly evolved into Bianchi’s “do everything” bike — a prime candidate for commuting, beginner ‘cross racing, gravel adventures, and more. The Volpe is still equipped with rim brakes rather than discs, but we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see discs in a future model. It does come with every mounting option a commuter would want…rack mounts front and rear, fender eyelets on both ends. The Volpe is one of my favorites in the Bianchi lineup:

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What do you think — are gravel bikes the new “ultimate commuter platform”? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this burgeoning segment of the bicycle market.


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Commuter Profile: Andrew Li

Editor’s note: Many of you may have seen Andrew Li’s excellent guest articles over the past couple months…well, we loved his work, and he loved doing it for us. So, we figured “why not add him to our staff?” So, welcome Andrew to the Bikecommuters.com team; in our tradition, here is his commuter profile for your reading pleasure.

Name: Andrew Li

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since about 2001, I have been commuting by bike. By no means am I car-independent. I would say that about 30% of my commuting distance during these last 10 years has been by bicycle.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I started pretty much out of necessity, in high-school. At that point, I did not have a car. So I carpooled, walked, or biked to school. By my senior year, I realized how fast a bicycle could be, and so I adopted cycling as my primary mode of transportation all throughout college and medical school.

Currently, my standard car-free commute is 20 miles, both directions combined. My longest car-free commute was about 32 miles, again, both directions combined.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

Bike commuting allows me to:
1. Exercise (saves me a gym membership) and get somewhere I need to get to, all at the same time.
2. Saving me money not having to buy as much gas (check out the “commuter tools” tab on bikecommuters.com to see how much you can save by biking a few miles here and there).
3. Reduce my time sitting in traffic.
4. Slow down so I can more easily see and appreciate my surroundings and be more aware of the community through which I am cycling, both the good AND the bad. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
a. I can’t tell you how many little shops and nooks I started noticing when I biked a route that I usually drove.
b. And since I was on a bike, I was more willing to stop and explore on foot.
5. Appreciate my car more, and as such, when I must drive, I don’t get as frustrated when stuck in traffic. Fascinating cycle: I bike to avoid driving, and in the end, it makes me a better driver.
6. Value the food I eat and view it not merely for pleasure but more for its properties as a source of energy and means of improving my performance and health. I was quick to learn that a bad diet easily manifested itself in a weak and weary ride.
7. Reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Cool topic of discussion at dinner parties.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I am a general surgery resident, and live with my wife in Long Beach, CA. I bike from Long Beach to Torrance for my current commute.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

My first commuter was an old Taiwanese road bike that my dad bought in the 80s at a garage sale for $20. It was my first love and a real beauty. I rode that bike for about 8 years, until it was stolen. In this photo, I am wearing a mask because Southern California during that year was having a bad firestorm, and so the smoke from the fire was pretty noticeable.

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I had a beautiful Panasonic at one point, but we had to leave it when we moved away.

In college, a friend bequested an old Cannondale to me. However, the front wheel got stolen. So I rummaged through our engineering department and found a BMX wheel that no one needed, and the clownbike was born (see first picture above). I rode that thing for about 2 years all around campus and beyond. Amazingly good handling (small wheels mean tighter turns). It got a LOT of attention, pointing fingers, and great laughs. Riding it, you just could not help but smile and laugh. I also called it the “happy bike.” As tradition dictated, I bequested it to a friend when I graduated.

Currently I own an old Trek Antelope 830 with some simple personal modifications for my commute. Pretty robust so far.

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Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Some of the most interesting experiences for me were during my commute to one job I had in South Central Los Angeles (LA). The ride started in North Hollywood, and I saw the transitions from Valley suburbia, to decadent Hollywood Hills mansions, to the stark Business District and Downtown LA streets rushing with expensive cars, to South Central LA with its stretches of industrial compounds, schools with uniformed children laughing and playing behind high metal fences garnished with barbed wire, and the rattling homeless shopping carts.

One of the most powerful memories I had during that commute was biking by two homeless guys fighting over a shopping cart filled with empty soda cans and about 50 others trying to break it up. As I rode by, one of them overturned the cart, and the sound of a hundred empty soda cans crashing on concrete and my bike tires crunching over them was overwhelming.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

They usually ask if I have ever gotten mugged before, as quite a few of my commutes have and currently go through rougher parts of town. Overall they are extremely supportive. I even converted one guy at my current work, and he is now a regular commuter.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

I have been getting involved with bikelongbeach.org. We are trying to get RL’s mobile bike repair unit getting started in Long Beach.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I think I have gotten more tickets cycling than driving.

Things to think about when looking for a new bike

I’ve been thinking of getting a new bike for commuting and errands. For years I’ve had commuter specific bikes that would allow me to carry a load of stuff like groceries and other junk. Since I’m in the business that I’m in (running this site as well as MtnBikeRiders.com), I’ve had bikes come and go through my stable — from fast road bikes to heavy duty utility bicycles.

What I’ve come to realize is that I like going fast. But I also want to be practical. I own a mini-van; yes I have cars and even a motorcycle. But one thing I love about my mini-van is the fact that it’s pretty useful, yet powerful enough to pass other vehicles while I’m on the freeway. You see that’s kinda been the story of my life: I like things to be exciting yet practical. That’s probably why I’d never own a 2 passenger convertible nor would I ever own a carbon fiber road bike…both are exciting, but I can’t justify getting them because it just doesn’t make sense for me.

I know that there are some of you who commute with a carbon fiber road bike or some that do it with an Xtracycle. So when I’m shopping around for a new commuter bike, I’ve got to think about a few things.
1. Is it going to be fun to ride?
2. Is it comfortable?
3. Is it practical? Will I be able to install a rack and panniers if I wanted?
4. Will it be fast?

My 4 reasons may not fit with what you would consider when looking for a new bike and that’s completely ok. When you are looking to get a new bike, you should make up a list of what things you’re looking for in this new bike. That way you can pinpoint the exact style and type of ride you want to try out.

Since I’m a mountain biker at heart, I’ve always leaned towards flat bar road bikes because it’s the positioning that I favor the most. However, I do like road drop bars just because when I was a young lad, I was heavily into road biking.

So I’ve come down to a few style of bikes that I’m going to consider.
A)Cyclocross
B)Flat Bar road bike
C)E-Bike with racks and panniers galore!
D) A geared version of the Redline 925

Before I end this article, just remember: When you’re shopping for a new bike, consider what type of terrain, where you’ll be riding and how you want to use the bike. Some will be ok with either a road bike or a mountain bike. Heck, some of our readers use recumbents to commute with while others use fixies and folding bikes. Whatever your choice will be, just remember shopping for it is the best part since you can pretty much custom tailor your bike to your needs.

Do you need your accessories to match?

I’ve always been a fan of matching accessories on a bicycle. Take this photo for example. Fenders, racks, pedals, and chain guard pretty much match everything else on the bike.
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But when I see this, I immediately think that I might worry too much about leaving a beautiful machine at a bike rack at the office where I can’t see it for hours at a time.
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My old Redline commuter bike was unassuming, it had a grey/black color scheme and I even uglified it just to deter thieves from trying to take it. So I’m curious to know what are you thoughts, do you dress up your bike to look as good as this specimen, or do you dumb it down to detract attention from it. Or perhaps you have a bike like this and you consider it your “going out” bike. Something you use when you’re out getting coffee or grabbing a bite to eat at the local sandwich shop where you could still keep your eyes on it.