Author Archive: Vince Rodarte

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.

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!

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.
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/
Here is JMaus in action!

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

Planet Bike SuperFlash TURBO Recap

Ok, as a brain refresher here is a link to the original post:

Well folks. It’s a unanimous decision. The Super Flash TURBO is a winner! Although my initial post was dated in March, I had been using the TURBO since late January. Day and Night, Night and Day. Rain – CHECK. SNOW – CHECK. SNAIL – CHECK.

The TURBO light pattern is VERY attention grabbing. AND the 1 watt LED is BRIGHT! My wife usually whined about riding behind me.

The original batteries that came with the light held up the entire time. In fact they just barely gave out last week. 4+ months run time is not bad at all! The light began to shut off on it’s own, so I shelved it and grabbed my old standard Super Flash in the interim.

So Monday morning, I slapped in some brand new ‘AAA’ batteries, jumped on my commuter bike – a 5″ travel mountain behemoth (take that Selk!), and pedaled frantically so that I would beat the lines at VooDoo Donuts. Since I hadn’t a minute to spare AND I didn’t have the PB seatpost bracket mounted, I simply utilized the tail light loop on my messenger bag. “Good enough”, I thought.

2 miles into my 5 mile commute, I heard what sounded like plastic hitting the pavement. I figured it was my 2.3″ tires kicking up some road debris. The lines at VooDoo were out the door already, so I pedaled on to the shop.
I arrived at work feeling fresh as always. As I pulled my bag over my head to set it down..GASP!!!!
The Super Flash TURBO had vanished!
That sound I heard was the TURBO hitting the pavement…

So, in the end here is what I determined:

PB Superflash CLIP

If PB could work on the clip grip, my grade is “A++” , but for now I simply give it an “A”.

Product Review: 2011 Torker Interurban

A few weeks back,  a loud knock came at my door! I was slightly startled at first, so I peeked outside and noticed a large box outside. On the box in BOLD letters was the name: TORKER

“Merlin’s Beard!”, exclaimed I! (Blogger’s Note: I had recently watched a Harry Potter film with my family)

The 2011 Torker Interurban had arrived! I had the day off from work, so I used my idle time to build this commuting machine. Now, I have ‘some’ bicycle assembly experience…  The Torker was a breeze to assemble and dial in! This is a GOOD thing because it means that down the road, if anything should falter it won’t be a major chore to repair. There aren’t any frivolous gimmicks or unnecessary ‘fanciness’ here. This is as straight forward as you can get with a chromoly bicycle.

2011 Torker Interurban

Here are the nitty gritty details & what they mean for a bicycle commuter:


Frame: Torker DB Chromoly: A chromoly frame is great  for a ‘work horse’ bicycle. It can withstand the rigor of daily commuting with a loaded set of panniers and a frantically pedaling employee trying to get to work on time! This frame comes equipped with two sets of water bottle mounts; handy for carrying two bottles of water during those warmer Summer months or that hefty NiCad headlight battery. There are also rear rack mounts and threaded eyelets for those using full fenders to brave the wet weather.
Fork: Hi-Ten 1-1/8: Hi-Ten (High Tensile Steel) is the grungy, “portly” brother of Chromoly steel. This material is heavier than chromo but is still strong. When fabricated correctly, a bicycle fork of this material will perform just as well as a chromo fork only, it will be heavier.

Headset:: Steel Threadless 1-1/8: This headset uses steel bearing cups instead of alloy cups found on more expensive models. Steel cups are inexpensive to use, which helps keep the cost down for price conscientious shoppers. Alloy cups are lighter, but not necessarily more durable. With regular maintenance, a steel headset can last the life of the bicycle.

Frt Der: Shimano 2300: The 2300 series of Shimano components is basically non-badged SORA level componentry. For the amount of shifting a front derailleur actually does, a ligh weight model isn’t necessary. Most manufacturers spec a lower level front derailleur to save a few bucks at the bottom line. This derailleur does a wonderful job!

Rear Der: Shimano 2300: The 2300 component line works well. I have replaced more Shimano Ultegra & 105 derailleurs in my time as a mechanic than I have 2300. Maybe it’s the light weight of the former that helps their demise, but the 2300 derailleurs are like that battery bunny, they keep going and going and going and going…

Shifter; Shimano 2300 8 Speed: Like previously mentioned, the 2300 series components work. I almost prefer the short, stubby thumb shift ‘peg’ found on the 2300 shifter than I do to the smaller, inboard lever found on higher level Shimano shifters. For the recreational rider, the ergonomics of this shifter makes sense.

Shim 2300 Shifter

Crank: FSA Tempo Compact 34-50T: Compact cranks are AWESOME! They give you the same range of gearing as a triple crank set, but without the weight and the difficult shifting! Weight is dropped because you don’t have the 3rd chain ring, you run a shorter chain AND you can use a short cage rear derailleur.

BB Set: Sealed Cartridge Square Taper: The standard in BB technology dating back a-ways. Square taper is what everyone used before Mega Exo, Isis, Octolink, Hollow-Tech 2, Outboard bearing, BB30, BB90. Square taper, sealed BB sets are available from any bike shop.

Cog: Shimano HG 50 13-26T: Shimano HG 50 is about as low on the component line as I would go for commuting. The material is quite durable and the finish puts up a fight against the elements and regular wear of the chain.

Pedal: Alloy w/ Steel Toe Clips: This combination make sense… On paper. Out in the wild, it’s a different story. Now, I haven’t used toe-clips & straps since my first mountain bike back in 1988. The steel toe clips that come equipped are quite durable, they have to be since they spent alot of time being scraped on the asphalt as I would begin pedaling from stop signs and traffic signals. When I did remove the toe clips to ride the pedals just as flats, the bite of the pedal on my shoe’s sole was lacking. Here in Portland, wet weather is abundant. I did ride in the rain with these pedals and had the sensation that my foot was about to slip any moment… I installed my SPD pedals soon after.

Rims: Alex DA 16 Double Wall: Alex Rims have become the standard on many bicycles as original equipment. This is because of their quality. They look pretty good too! When choosing a decent set of wheels, always look for DOUBLE WALL rims. These will provide miles and miles of trouble free riding.

Hubs: Ft – Alloy 32H QR/ Rr – Alloy Cassette: Alloy hubs make for lighter, durable wheels. Steel hubs are just plain heavy and not very durable. A cassette hub is ALWAYS more favorable over a freewheel style hub…ANY DAY.

Spoke: 14 G Stainless: They hold up better than galvanized steel spokes.

Tire: Kenda 700 x28C: For commuters, I wouldn’t recommend any tire narrower than a 700 x 25c. The Kenda 700 x 28 rubber has been holding up quite well on the asphalt and gravel roads in and around Portland.

Bar: Alloy Drop 420mm: Bar width is a very personal thing. It really depends upon the rider’s shoulder width. If the bars are too narrow, you (as a rider) will not be able to open up your chest to maximize air intake. I personally prefer a 44cm wide bar. Since the bike size I chose is near the smaller of the sizes available (50cm), Torker spec’d an appropriate sized bar.

Stem: Forged Alloy “A-Headset” Style: Stems are an item that can make or break the fit of a bike. The stem that comes on the Interurban is a ‘recreational’ stem; meaning, the rise is very upright. It puts you in a rather comfortable position and not hunched over the front wheel like on a road-race bike.

Saddle: Torker Racing: The most personal item on a bicycle is the saddle. It goes where NO ONE ever goes. This saddle has been quite comfortable. I still need to fiddle with my saddle fore/aft positioning, but I think I may keep this saddle on the bike for a few more miles.

Seat Post: Alloy 27.2mm x 350mm: SOLID. ‘Nuff Said.

Brake: Pro Max Alloy Dual Pivot Caliper: Pro Max makes a full spectrum of braking systems. The dual pivot calipers have been working flawlessly from day one. I have almost worn out the stock brake shoes, but that is primarily due to the fact that I am almost constantly braking in the rain… Rain takes it’s toll on brakes here in the Pacific NW.

Brake Lever: Shimano STI: Shimano 2300 Shifters… You click, they shift. SOLID. The only thing you should worry about with these is keeping your cables and  housing clean.

So, there you have it folks! The 2011 Torker Interurban. Broken down, piece by piece, component by component. It’s been ridden hard and casually. It’s been my sole ride to and from work for the last 7 weeks. The drive train is holding up. The wheels are spinning true and smooth. The shifters are nearly as crisp and precise as when I first shifted them. The steel frame is holding up tremendously! With ample tire clearance, I may try a narrow cyclocross tire and see how it rides off road…. I’ll let you know.

Thanks Torker, for spec’ing a solid bike for a good price! MSRP for the Interurban is $569. You can find the same spec on bikes costing $200 more!

To find a dealer in your area, check it out right HERE!

New E-Bike Share Program to Start

While having my morning coffee, I came across this blurb about a new Bike Share program starting up in Knoxville, Tennessee at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Read on..

KNOXVILLE, TN (BRAIN)—The first e-bike sharing system in the U.S. could be unveiled as early as this fall at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

The small-scale pilot program will consist of 15 of Currie’s pedal-assist trekking-style bikes and five hybrid, traditional Marin bikes with no batteries. Chris Cherry, assistant professor at the university’s civil and environmental engineering department, came up with the idea a year ago as a course project for one of his classes.

“It started as a concept I was interested in studying and I was able to find money to buy the equipment and have my students to do the initial design and analysis for a transportation planning course project,” Cherry said.

But the project soon ran into funding and liability issues, which have delayed its implementation. However, Cherry said the system is just about ready to go live with most of the details, including the unique docking stations, tailored e-bikes and battery vending machines, ironed out.

Cherry emphasized that the impetus behind the program is to develop research findings about bike usage, safety-related issues with bikes and e-bikes and physical activity. The e-bikes and bikes will be equipped with GPS and pedal sensors to track usage.

Cherry said he opted for e-bikes instead of a full fleet of traditional human-powered bikes because of the campus terrain. “Our campus is pretty spread out and very hilly so riding a bike requires a bit of devotion,” he said. “This is a way to hopefully get people to ride more bikes. A lot of students will drive across campus. It’s really auto-oriented.”

Larry Pizzi, president of Currie Technologies, said that aside from providing the fleet at a deep discount, Currie worked closely with Cherry on modifying the e-bikes to make them viable for the program, specifically the battery configuration. Pizzi doesn’t think public e-bike sharing systems will proliferate due to the higher price tag of an e-bike and the large scale of citywide systems. “But with private programs, like a university program, it definitely becomes more viable,” Pizzi said.

—Lynette Carpiet

This might be a nice precedent for other university campuses to give their civil engineering & urban transportation planning students a jump start in their chosen career paths… Hmmmmm…..