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Tag Archive: touring bike

Review: Velo Orange Polyvalent Crankset

A few months ago, the classic bike enthusiasts at Velo Orange sent us a sample of their new Polyvalent crankset to test out. As I had just moved from the flatlands of Florida to the rolling hills and valleys of the midwest, I was “voluntold” to be the reviewer.

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First, a little about the cranks themselves, straight from VO’s description:

The wide range Polyvalent crank has 46/30 rings and comes with a high polish alloy chain ring guard. The 46/30 rings give almost the range of a triple when used with a wide cassette, while the chain ring guard helps keep your pants clean. This is a great crank for city bikes and utility bikes.

The crankset is a standard JIS square taper interface and takes a 118mm bottom bracket spindle. I wound up using a 122mm spindle on my test platform, a salvaged Puch road bike-turned-dedicated-commuter. That extra spindle length helped clear the splayed chainstays of the Puch. The crankset is finished in VO’s signature “high polish”, which I always refer to as “high satin” when I try to describe the finish to someone who has never seen it. The cranks/chainrings have small and tasteful laser logos etched onto them. This crankset comes with nicely-made domed dustcovers and the spindle fixing bolts. The chainrings are lightly ramped and pinned for smooth shifting, and the included chainguard should keep many commuters happy as it negates having to roll up a pant leg to stay grease-free.

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For those of you familiar with compact cranks on traditional road bikes, this crankset operates in much the same way. With a 16-tooth jump between large and small chainrings, this provides most of the range of a triple crankset without the extra complexity and fussiness of shifting that come with three rings. My test platform was set up as a 1×7 prior to installing the Polyvalent crank (44T chainring, 13-26 7-speed freewheel). That gearing setup was ok for Florida, even with a largish load in my panniers. Once I got to Ohio, though, I was simply outgunned…while the hills aren’t high here, there are a lot of them and many of them are quite steep. The Polyvalent crank solved my hill problem quite satisfactorily…cruising around the flats on the 46T ring and dumping the chain to the 30T when the road tilts upward. In fact, I enjoy this range so much that the Polyvalent crankset is in the process of migrating to a touring bike that I am building…one with a true “wide range” cassette (11-34 9-speed). I should be able to conquer mountains with that gearing range, even with a full camping/grocery load.

There have been a number of reports of compact cranksets having problems with overshifting inward past the inner ring — after all, a 16-tooth jump is a bit extreme. The Polyvalent has the same 16-tooth jump between outer and inner rings, and things are further complicated by the need to place the front derailleur above the chainguard to avoid interference. Nevertheless, I experienced no overshifting with this crankset. Careful setup of the limit screws on one’s front derailleur helps, and those users still concerned with overshifting can install a simple chainwatcher inboard of the inner ring. Avoiding abrupt “panic shifting” from outer to inner probably helps, too.

Although VO doesn’t mention it anywhere in their description of the Polyvalent cranks, one of the tabs on the chainguard makes a handy bottle opener. Take a look at the 12 o’clock position in the photo below, and rest assured this crankset has you covered if you’re itching for a post-ride beverage.

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Velo Orange makes a lot of really nice, reasonably priced components…all with classic lines and great finishes. The Polyvalent cranks are no exception, and they are well worth the retail price of $105.00. And, if you’re not in the market for a crankset but really like the idea of a chainguard, VO sells a similar chainguard separately.

Visit the Velo Orange online store page for other components and accessories, and take a look at their blog for some interesting reading about product development and classic bike design.

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

A Great Commuter Bike by KHS Bicycles

Ok here’s something that KHS Bicycles came up with for 2009, its the TR-101. We’ve posted a video of this bike from Interbike 2008. Vince Calvillo mentioned that this is a new model for KHS and I really think they built an awesome bike that could be used as a great commuter.
khs tr 101
Here’s the specs:

Frame
Reynolds 520 Double Butted full Chromoly w/carrier and cantilever bosses
Fork Full Crmo w/rack bosses
Headset Cane Creek A-Headset
Rims Weinmann SP17 Alloy Doublewall
Hubs Formula Sealed Bearing cassette, QR
Tires Kenda Kwest 700x32c, w/K-Shield Anti-puncture
Spokes 14G Black 36°
Front Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX Shadow
Shifters Shimano Dura-Ace 9-Speed bar ends
Chain KMC Z9000 w/Missing Link
Crankset Shimano FC-R453, 50/39/30, Octalink
Bottom Bracket Shimano Octalink cartridge
Cassette Shimano HG50 11-34, 9-Speed
Pedals Shimano PD-M505
Seatpost Alloy Micro-adjust
Saddle KHS Ultra Comfort, Soft Shell
Handlebar Alloy Butted, 31.8mm
Stem Alloy 3D Forged, 31.8
Tape Cushion Tape
Brake Levers Dia Compe #287 for linear pull brakes
Brakes TektroLinear Pull
Color Black
Frame Size 17, 19, 21, 23, 25″

Just refresh your memory, here’s the video.

Quick Review: KHS Flite 250

KHS Flite 250

For this review I’m doing things a bit different. I’ll start off with my overall experience then go into the mechanics of the bike.

Summary:

This has to be THE Smoothest Bike I’ve commuted with EVER! Yes I’ve said it and I know its a bold statement. But I really do stand behind my claim and say that this bike is a legit commuter bike.

What makes the KHS Flite 250 a smooth riding bike? Could it be that it’s a steel frame, married to a carbon fork and Kenda 700x26c tires? Could it be the curved seat stays or could it be that the geometry is just right, that it makes a harsh ride more pleasant? It’s possible that all those things I mentioned have a synergistic effect on the overall ride.
khs flite 250

Specs:

Frame: CrMo 4130 Double butted 3-main w/carrier bosses
Fork: Carbon w/Alloy steerer
Headset: Cane Creek Aheadset
Rims: Weinmann XTR16 Doublewall w/CNC sidewall
Hubs: Formula alloy QR, Cassette
Tires: Kenda Kontender 700X26C
Front Derailleur: Shimano FD-R440
Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-2200
Shifters: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar
Chain: KMC Z82
Crankset: Alloy Forged 50/34
Bottom Bracket: Sealed cartridge
Cassette: SRAM PG-850 11-28, 8 Speed
Pedals: Resin w/steel cage
Seatpost: Alloy Micro-adjust
Saddle: KHS Road Padded
Handlebar: Alloy Flat Bar, 580mm
Brake Levers: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar
Brakes: Alloy dual pivot
MSRP: $599

lhs flite 250

One of the great things about the Flite 250 was the flat bar configuration. Being a mountain biker, I really like the feel and control I have with flat bars. The Flite 250 had comfy grips; I never felt my back hurt during my rides — and you know what, the saddle was plush too.

Though the front fork doesn’t come with eyelets for fender mounts, the frame is equipped with bosses to allow a rack and fenders to be installed. If you really needed something for the front to act as a fender, a Grunge Board from Planet Bike might be a good accessory.

The flite 250 is equipped with:Front Derailleur: Shimano FD-R440, Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-2200 Shifters: Shimano ST-R221 for Flat Bar. Upon receipt of the bike, Flite was ready to ride. I didn’t have to tune/adjust it before, during or after my rides. In fact, the accuracy of the shifting was like magic!
The 50/34 double cranks were enough for flat land sprints yet forgiving enough to allow me to climb a large hill on my commute. I almost forgot to mention that the braking power on this bike is superb. I’m about 190lbs on a good day, and the bike had no problems stopping me after bombing down a long hill.

Handling on the Flite 250 was quick and nimble. It corners like a cat; it’s a lightweight, yet strong commuter that seems to scream for more when putting some power to the pedals. Don’t let the bike’s humble looks fool you, this baby can rock if you really want to. I can totally see how you could easily do a tour or a century on this bike.

Some things worth mentioning:
Test Bike only weighed 23.4 lbs
Nimble handling, I could easily throw the bike around if I needed to maneuver through some tight spaces.
Flat bar position allows for a comfortable geometry and “heads up” view of the road.
Carbon fork makes a HUGE difference on ride quality.
Never had a flat during testing.
2009 model is a sexy black!
Wonderful commuter bike!

So if you were to ask me what I thought of the bike other than it being super smooth, I’d say it’s a great ride. Definitely worth checking out at your local KHS Dealer. I think you’ll be quite happy with the experience.