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More Bikes in the News

Here’s a roundup of various bike-related things clogging up my inbox…what better way to clear that out than to share them with you?

First off, the United States Postal Service announced that they will be printing “Bicycle Forever” stamps in 2012.

“We are excited to promote one the nation’s most popular outdoor activities with the issuance of these four Bicycling stamps,” added [Stamp Services manager Stephen] Kearny. “These days, increasing numbers of Americans ride bikes to work or use them to run neighborhood errands. Many travel organizations offer cycling tours, from leisurely half-day jaunts to weeks-long excursions. No matter how long the ride, choosing to bike rather than to drive cuts down on traffic congestion, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, which benefits the environment and helps improve air quality.”

bikestamps
Information via press release, Beyond the Perf and Urban Velo.

Going to Interbike this year? Some of the staffers at Bikecommuters.com/Mtnbikeriders.com are…and when we do, we’re going to get a chance to ride on Circulus, which Vince wrote about last week. From the Interbike press release:

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. – July 26, 2011 – Celebrating urban, fixed and track bike culture, Interbike is installing Portland Design Works’ Circulus, a 132-foot circumference (40.2m), 45-degree wooden mini-velodrome inside the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Sponsored by Paved magazine, Yakima, All-City Cycles and Portland Design Works (PDW), Circulus will be the site of multiple events at the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas September 14-16.

Circulus will be setup next to the Urban Lounge, home of the Interbike City Style Fashion Show, and The Pub, a new beer garden and bar located on the show’s street level expo space. Show attendees will be able to hang out, ride All-City Cycles bikes on the track and compete in events on the first and second days of the show, including the PDW/Paved Pro-Am Classic at Circulus.

“Circulus will add something completely new and unique to this year’s show,” said Interbike Brand and Communications Director Rich Kelly. “We’re placing a big emphasis on urban cycling and the brands that support it and having Circulus there will be a big draw for that segment of the market. And, of course, I can’t wait to take a spin on it myself.”

Normally housed at PDW’s headquarters, Circulus will be dismantled, transported to Las Vegas and reassembled for the 30th edition of the bicycle industry’s annual trade show.

“Over the years, we’ve watched urban cycling grow to be on par with any other segment of cycling. We love that, and believe the universal appeal of Circulus is a reflection of the passion and vibrant growth of urban cycling,” said PDW Co-Founder Dan Powell. “We can’t wait for folks to hop on and turn some hot laps on the show floor.”

The circular track was originally conceived and built by Claremont, Calif. Pomona College art student Samuel Starr as part of his 2010 senior thesis. Circulus was later purchased by PDW and all 39 sections of the track were shipped to the company’s Oregon warehouse where it was reassembled.

“Since I first heard about Circulus, I knew Paved magazine had to be involved in some way,” said Paved Editor Joe Parkin. “Circulus combines design and a passion for bikes, but with a light-hearted demeanor – kind of like what we try to do with Paved. I can’t wait to see peoples’ reactions to the events at Interbike.”

Next up, I got a press release from Transportation For America that has been making the rounds on various bike news outlets. It seems that the U.S. House of Representatives are proposing some drastic cuts to transportation funding:

Late last week the House released an outline of their transportation bill and the news was not encouraging. The proposal would cut total transportation funding by one-third. It would also kill the tiny slice of dedicated funding for safer walking and biking and drastically reduce transit support, while failing to focus on fixing and repairing our crumbling roads and bridges.

While I understand that the Federal Government can’t possibly pay for everything, and in fact shouldn’t in many cases (the states should be responsible for the bulk of their bike/ped improvements…we’ve discussed this many times around here), this sets a dangerous precedent. But this transportation bill proposal cuts into infrastructure funding of ALL kinds, not just bike/ped stuff, and losing those funds can offer states an “out” in that they may not want to proceed with improvements/restorations without that federal “seed money”. Tough times we’re living in, folks…the economy is affecting everything now, and our cities are crumbling from the streets on up. Anyhow, if you’re inclined, you can contact your state representatives to tell them how you feel by clicking here.

Finally: Need more proof that bikes are the hot fashion accessory these days, and that people of all kinds are flocking to them? Look no further: fashion designer Philip Lim provided a promo of his Fall/Winter 2011 collection by outfitting models with Linus citybikes. It’s a fun, Kraftwerky video preview, and the models and bikes are stunning:

CIRCULUS : Ridin’ in Circles

In early 2010, Portland Design Works purchased one of the most interesting installations from a Pomona College student in Southern California… CIRCULUS.

What is CIRCULUS?
Circulus is a 143 foot diameter, 45 degree banked, wooden mini-velodrome. When standing in the ‘in field’ of the track, it almost feels like you are standing in an enormous wooden salad bowl!

The track is currently housed within PDW’s Portland, Oregon warehouse – The Mothership. One if the perks of living in the fine city of Portland is I’ve had the opportunity to ride on Circulus. It is AMAZING!

This last Saturday evening, PDW & Yakima Products had an open invite for head to head racing on the track!
Flyer

wide angle

PDW’s man in the field, Kevin “MURPH” Murphy came by the shop week ago to drop off the event flyer (shown above).

There was some discussion on what bikes were to be used for the event. The main concern was rider and spectator safety. If the bikes were geared too high, riders would be able to reach the top of the track too easily and chance launching off the track and out into the spectator area. If the bikes were geared too low, proper speeds would not be reached to keep the riders on the steep, 45 degree bank.

Upon arriving to the venue on Saturday night I was delighted to see bikes that had decent gearing and were low to the ground, in the off chance that if riders had to bail or crash, the fall would not be very bad.

The rigs

Open riding for the evening began at 6:30pm and racing began promptly at 8pm. The racing was MC’d by none other than Stevil Kinevil. Being a single elimination race, it was all or nothing for the racers. This was a pursuit style race. The race began with each competitor begining at opposite sides of the track from a dead stop on the infield floor. Each racer had to be up on the 45 degree banked track within 1/2 a lap. The object of the race was to complete 4 laps before your opponent or to catch the opposing racer in 4 laps or less.
Brackets
Mens final 2
womens semi

Although adult refreshements were available from Hopworks Urban Brewery, racers were not allowed to drink them until AFTER their heat was completed, as this was a single elimination race format. If you were fortunate enough to advance, you were unfortunate enough to have to wait to enjoy a cold beer!

Having previous saddle time on Circulus, I gave it a go… Race testing the DZR District shoes.
DZR Test run

My wife raced the women’s event (yellow bike):

(Youtube video courtesy of Jonathan Maus/www.bikeportland.org)
Here is JMaus in action!
JMaus

Here is video of the men’s final:

(Youtube video courtesy of nanobikerdotcom)

Music was thumping throughout the night courtesy of the always amazing DJ Amanda Sundvor
DJ Amanda Sundvor

The racing ended for the evening with two of the haunches at PDW, Erik and Murph going…. Beak to Beak??
Erik n Murph
two chickens

A big THANKS to the fine folks at PDW – Daniel “DPow” Powell, Erik Olson & Kevin “Murph” Murphy & Yakima for putting on a fantastic, fun filled event!

A special thanks goes to Mr. Dave Roth for allowing the use of his photographs of the event. You can view the entire evening captured in pixels here at http://www.dmroth.com/cycling/circulus/index2.html

Interbike 2010: PDW and Their New Goodies for 2011

We had the chance to talk to Dan Powell of Portland Design Works (PDW) at Interbike last week. Dan was gracious enough to allow us to shoot a short video of the product highlights in the pipeline for the coming months…personally, I’m very excited by the front rack and clip-on fender Dan showed us. Take a look for yourself:

Review: Portland Design Works’ Spaceship/Radbot 500 Lights

A few weeks ago, the good folks from Portland Design Works (PDW) sent us a courtesy set of their Spaceship headlight and Radbot 500 rear blinkie for testing and to hang onto when we’re done putting them through their paces.

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Upon opening the box, there is a startling similarity between the Radbot blinkie and the perennial favorite — the Planet Bike “Superflash” — the LED lens looks identical to the main one on the Superflash. There are some similiarities in the attachment hardware, too, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The LED in the Radbot is rated at 1/2 watt, and it is as bright as anyone could ever need in a blinkie.

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As far as the light goes, the similarities end with that 1/2 watt LED and lens — in my opinion, the PDW Radbot is vastly superior to my old favorite in several ways. First, the case is held together with a screw…no more bouncing down the road only to hear batteries and case parts tinkling down behind me as the road bucks them off. An additional benefit is that the gasket seal between the two halves of the case is compressed better, giving it more resistance to water intrusion. I haven’t gotten to test this yet, but I’ve been dismayed at times by the ability of my old Superflash to let water past its gasket, and the PDW just seems more resistant to that. I hope I’m right!

Second, the body of the blinkie contains a largish DOT reflector rather than auxiliary LEDs. Having the reflector built in helps with legality issues — many municipalities require a rear-facing red reflector, and too many bikes don’t have ’em. Third, the light is actuated by a press on a real button, not a soft spot in the case. I like that…and that button has a built-in delay to prevent accidental turning on while the light is floating around in your pocket or backpack.

The Radbot 500 has three modes — an organic slow pulse (like a slow heartbeat), a slow pulse followed by three ultra-quick blasts, and steady-on. The pulsing with three blasts is my favorite mode…either flashing mode is different enough from other lights on the market that they should really stand out on dark streets. The light is powered by two AAA batteries.

The Spaceship front light has two modes — flashing and steady — and is powered by two AA batteries. As you can see from this photo, there is good side visibility and a neat feature…a lighted strip of blue along the top of the light’s body. What’s the purpose of this? Why, to look extra cool, that’s what!

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The light itself is not strong enough for a “to see” light, but it serves admirably as a “to be seen” light. The light pattern is a very tight spotlight with a strong blue cast at the center of the beam, and it just doesn’t light up the road very well. But, in flashing mode, cars can’t ignore that flash…it’s bright enough to do the job of alerting motorists to your presence.

The light set comes with lots of hardware…a traditional seatpost mounting clamp, a nice adjustable handlebar clamp for the front light, a seatstay loop to hold the light bracket if your seatpost is too short or too obscured to mount the light there, a bracket for standard rear racks (thank you, PDW — not enough companies include these!!!) and the stainless mounting nuts and bolts for affixing the bracket to the rack. If you already own Planet Bike front and rear lights, you’re in luck; the clip interface is identical for both front and rear holders and you can just clip on your new PDW lights and get to ridin’ without any hassles.

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The handlebar clamp is an improvement on the similar Planet Bike model…adjustable to fit 22 mm bars all the way up to 31.8mm “oversize” bars. It’s less likely to slip than the PB mount, too…although I had to add a wrap of friction tape under mine as my handlebars are an odd in-between size. Once the clamp is tightened down using the thumbscrew, it’s pretty solid.

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Overall, I really like this light set — especially the Radbot blinkie. It’s my new favorite and I look forward to many miles with this light. The Spaceship makes a good “second light”, especially when coupled with something a bit more powerful for rider visibility. This set goes for about $45.00, so it’s a good deal too.

Check out PDW’s other smartly-designed and innovative parts — they’ve got a lot of good things going on — by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.