The Bike Geek: Regrets, I had a few

Hello Bike Commuters, welcome to your weekly FREE post from The Bike Geek, yes, I said FREE!!! Unlike NetZero, your weekly post will remain free forever with a few shout outs to our friends from 2WheelGear, Burley, NiteRider, Shower Pass and Wabi Cycles. These companies are awesome, so check out their stuff whenever you have a chance.

So by now you should have an idea that I love to change bikes like I change underwear, in fact, I change bikes more often that I change underwear! Long gone is the Davinci Caribou 2 and the Giant TCR SLR2 and now I have the Spicer Cycles CX and a Bianchi Impulso. Why do I change bikes so much? Because I love to experience riding all sorts of bikes; each bike has its own characteristics and personality.

However, there are times that I’ve said to myself “Self, you are a dumbass, you should not have gotten rid of that bike”. Here are few of the bikes that I regret getting rid of:

My Ibex X-Ray Cyclocross bike. This was my first ever cyclocross bicycle that I used for commuting back in 2008. This bike was unique, it was comfortable, it was agile and I configured it as a single speed and then later as a 1X9.


I still keep kicking myself in the ass for getting rid of this bike. This is a KHS F20-R Folding bicycle. Don’t judge this bike by its size, I used to be able to keep up with the “big boys” on this little bike. It was also very versatile and lightweight at 22lbs. I really wished I had this bike now; it would be perfect for my bike-train commute.

The Ibex B27-RSR, yup, another Ibex. Check out that frame, not very common, it was great for commuting as well as a mountain biking. My Ibex B27-RSR also featured the first version of the DaVinci Hub and wild SweetSkinz tires.


One thing that sucks about living in a condo is the lack of storage space. The DiamondBack Transporter with the Xtracycle Freeradical was truly one of my favorite bikes. I used it for commuting, mountain biking, grocery shopping and to haul my kids around on Halloween. I was sad to see it go, but the person who got it from me had a little boy who really loved the thrill of riding in the back of this thing.


And lastly, the KHS DH200 from back in the days when I used to race downhill. This bike was built like an effing tank and I used to plow through rock gardens like nothing. I used to joke that when I raced thru the gnarly stuff I closed my eyes, said a prayer and let the bike do its thing, this bike did not let me down. Too bad I had to retire from downhill racing so it was hard to justify having a bike that would get used once a year.

How about you? Any bikes you regret getting rid of?

Interbike 2013: new products from Xtracycle

It’s no secret that we’re unabashed fanboys of Xtracycle, and we spotted some new products in their lineup. We will visit their booth at the indoor show tomorrow for more details, but in the meantime, here are some shots of new products:

A new integrated frameset called the Edgerunner. Buyers are no longer tied to the Freeradical kit, as Xtracycle now offers at least a couple full cargo framesets. This one has a smaller rear wheel for more strength and stability:

The frameset has an integrated mounting area for e-assist kits.

Check out this complete kid-carrying system…from a bucket seat to guardrails all the way around!

We will be sure to get a lot more details tomorrow, and full specs. Stay tuned!

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

Commuter Profile: Jed Reynolds

This week’s commuter profile comes from Jed Reynolds, longtime reader of our humble site. Jed’s got lots of stuff to share, so let’s get started!

Name: Jed Reynolds


How long have you been a bike commuter?

I took bicycling casually about 15 years ago while in college–I got around using a mountain bike and transit. I eventually took being a software contractor pretty seriously, bought a car, and lost the bike. Eight years ago, I moved to Bellingham, and I bought a bike to get to my first job here, but I still occasionally drove to work. In the last three years I have “figured it out”…my knees don’t bug me, and I thoroughly got bit by the cycling bug. I’ve been a full time bike commuter for approaching two years and I’m busy cycling through my second winter in the pacific northwest!

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

Not wanting to own a car was while I was in college was a start. Now it’s about getting exercise and avoiding buying gas are why I started biking to work. Once my office relocated closer to home to about six miles–that seemed much less daunting to me. My health has changed and getting regular exercise has become a necessity. I’ve gotten get used to biking about thirteen miles a day, or more if I have time to expand the route.


How does bicycle commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I can’t claim to be the most frugal cyclist, but this year I did downgrade from two cars to one. If it weren’t so fun to upgrade my bikes, I’d actually save money. Using my cargo bike, I can go for about five weeks without touching the van. (My van is still very useful for family trips.) All my typical shopping I can fit in plastic storage boxes on my cargo bike. I also deliver my kids to school by bike, using a trailer or on the cargo bike. I haven’t calculated my savings, but the money wasn’t as important to me as the fun riding and the righteous feeling of minimizing my car use.

I’m feeling healthy and am now in better shape than when I was in high school! I realized recently that I really did need an hour or more of exercise a day. I didn’t lose 40lbs from just from cycling, however. The truth really is too serious: type II diabetes. I control my health with medication, diet and exercise. I have no excuse to live a sedate lifestyle now. Rather, I feel a responsibility to model an active lifestyle. (There are a million new cases of type II diabetes every year. Please take diet and exercise seriously. [Footnote: 1.6 million people in the United States aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes every year – ])

People from my past will find a new Jed. Previously I was a sloth-like asocial computer geek–never a fan of exercise and derisive of organized sports and loathed “jocks.” I’ve dropped all that attitude. Now I’m eager take my kids on bike tips in any weather, and I’m planning a summer of bike picnics and eventually bike camping.

I no longer talk only about computers–I can strike up a conversation about bicycling with almost anyone, and it actually feels much better. (Other people don’t like to talk about computers? Wow.). I’ve made friends in my neighborhood by offering bike tune ups. Just drawing a bicycle on my name tag at gathering invites conversations.

My inner childhood mechanic loves geeky DIY bike culture. I’ve been cutting up scraps of this and that to fashion light brackets and fender extensions. For my cargo bike I made a bright yellow rain tarp using reclaimed inner-tube as tie-downs. I’ve gone on my second tweed ride with my sons! (Tweed rides are almost as geeky as attending a Renassance Fair or being a larper [].)


My family relationships have been enriched in other ways. I have a brother in law who’s a professional bike mechanic and my sister has a 26 mile daily bike commute…so we always have something to talk about. As you can tell…I’m still waiting for this bicyclist thing to improve my relationships.

What do you do for a living and where do you live?

I’ve been a web application programmer and Linux system administrator for over a decade. Occasionally I hear that computer programmers tend to like bicycles, but it still seems uncommon. Conversely, Bellingham is very bike friendly and there’s a local software company that not only has its own bike shop, it keeps winning a pile of the bike to work month challenges. [] Editor’s note: we featured Logos and their bike commuter incentives back in 2009. Take a look at our original article by clicking here.

Bellingham has been recognized as a bike friendly town [] []

What kind(s) of bike(s) do you have?

I have three bikes that I love to ride: a Trek 7200 that I installed fenders and trekking bars on, and a 58cm Novara Expresso XC I turned turned Xtracycle. I’ve also started learning to ride a recumbent and now I have a Rans Tailwind. I also pull a Burley Bee trailer for shopping and lugging kids in…sometimes I tow it behind my Xtracycle.


I recently sold a Trek 3900 that I hybridized–taped the fenders up with yellow tape, and extended the fenders with milk jug panels, added toe clips and a rack. Good bike. I also sold a Trek 820 that I also made a rain commuter with yellow fenders. Now I just have one more Trek 820 to outfit with some yellow fenders on and sell.


Any funny/interesting commuting story you’d like to share?

My route takes me up Northwest Avenue and under Interstate 5. That area until just recently has been a snarl with bad left turn traffic and then construction to redevelop the intersection with a roundabout. Going home months ago on my mountain bike, I was passing through this underpass and a contractors pickup rumbles by and I hear the tinkle of nails in his truck. Suddenly I cannot pedal and I’m skidding right into the middle off the offramp merge lane! Luckily, I land on my feet and still full of adrenaline I don’t skip a beat to drag my bike to the shoulder. The bike will not coast. I drug it to the sidewalk, unhooked the panniers, dug out my toolkit, and what did I discover but a five inch nickel-plated nail slammed through both sidewalls of the tire! The nail was wedged against the rear brake pads which explains my sudden skid. I had just taken the read wheel off when I look up to see on of my neighbors parked right next to me with his trunk open! “Need a ride?” I love living in a small city.


What do people say when you’re a bike commuter?

While its common in Bellingham to compare bike commutes, I’ve met a variety of reactions. Generally-impressed is almost as common a reaction as nodding-approval. People in line at the grocery often ask how far I ride, and then they seem quite reflective and wish that I stay safe on the road. I enjoyed talking to a grocery bagger who was astounded that anyone could bike from Bellingham to Ferndale.

I get impressed looks from people when I clarify that I’m looking forward to another winter on the bike. Snow? Yes: studded tires! Rain can’t stop me, its part of the adventure (like camping). But I admit it–wind will stop me. Sustained winds over 25mph are not safe or enjoyable, and gusts beyond 35mph have pushed me to a standstill and into traffic. On those days, I’m fortunate that I can work from home.

People are often left with the impression that I’ve been biking and athletic my whole life. That’s not the case at all–overweight nerd programmer hated exercise, never played a sport and resents sports on TV even more.

How about bicycling advocacy? Groups?

I’ve recently met many of the local biking and transit advocates in Bellingham: Mary and Linda and Karen from Whatcom SmartTrips [] and EverybodyBIKE []. I’ve won some transit prizes from our SmartTrips program. This summer I attended a recognition ceremony at the farmers market with my younger son. We met the mayor Dan Pike and congressman Rick Larsen. Mayor Pike does his best to ride to work…and so have a many previous Bellingham mayors.

But its not really up to my congressman to model the behavior I expect. Like Ghandi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world. When I bike, I feel like that change. When I talk about bicycling, I also feel like that change. After bragging how much I save on gas, I often ask people if they ever considered biking to work. I invite people to tell me why their commute wouldn’t work by bicycle.
People’s comfort zone is pretty obvious, but some people have provided other instructive answers:
• people live dozens of miles away
• people work early shift and have to leave the house at 3AM to be in my 4:30AM
• people work late shift and I don’t want to bike in the dark
• people run, don’t have time to bike
• people live X miles up a 50mph windy highway lacking bike lanes or any shoulder
• afraid of traffic
• that huge hill
• “that wife” put the bike behind the couch again

Bicycling is just bicycling, of course, it’s not superior for all people. I believe that advocacy has got to be fun. Bike parades, themed rides, and multi-economic angles need to play together. I believe in keeping the conversation going around parents with kids. I think that getting groceries while taking the kids with you – on a bicycle – is how we need to break our addiction to cars.

In Bellingham, there is an inspiring project providing disadvantaged youths bicycles and group rides called The Bike Shop []. Families wanting bike come in and can buy a really cheap beat up bike…but they cannot leave with it until they’ve learned to fix it up. This helps build independence and removes the concept that bikes are a disposable appliance.


Thank you, Jed, for sharing your words and stories with us. For the rest of you who would like to be featured in a future “commuter profile“, drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

DIY Xtracycle “Footsies”

I’ve had my beloved Xtracycle for a few years now…and it has seen thousands of miles of use and abuse in all weather conditions. During this winter’s overhaul, I realized that I could no longer ignore the weatherbeaten and damaged “footsies” that I installed with my Xtracycle build:


Don’t let the picture deceive you…these were both badly delaminating despite multiple coats of marine varnish, and I had enough wooden splinters jammed into my ankles and calves to last me a lifetime. It was time for a replacement, but with what? I had fantasized about getting a sheet-metal place make me a pair out of aluminum diamond plate, until I started pricing the raw materials and cost of fabrication. Holy crap, that was no good…a few hundred dollars?!? Then, I thought I might just replace them with another set directly from Xtracycle…but I don’t make a lot of money and a replacement set was (to me) absurdly expensive. Besides, I was hoping Xtra had started making their footsies out of the excellent recycled plastic material their decks were available in, but alas…only wooden ones are available.

What to do? I needed something cheap, something weatherproof and something easy to work with. One day, I was wandering around in the kitchen department of a local store, and I saw all these colorful plastic cutting boards. Wait a minute…what if I used THOSE to make footsies? I was onto something…

Materials you will need:

–plastic cutting boards. I used two smaller ones, but if you cut carefully, you might be able to get two footsies out of one big board
–cardboard to make templates
–a saw (power or hand saw…I used a battery-powered circular saw, but a hand saw might actually work better)
–drill and appropriate bits
–Sharpie marker
–4mm hex wrench
–razor blade or sharp knife
–some means to sand the edges (I used a sanding disc in my drill, but you could use a coarse file and some sandpaper)

I had all the tools I needed, so the total cost for me was an hour of labor and less than $10.00 for the cutting boards. Win-win, babies!!! To find these tools I’d recommend checking with Consumer Reports or some of the many other sites on these topics.

First, trace your existing footsies onto cardboard and make templates for the right and left sides. I chose straight lines to save myself hassle when cutting:


Don’t forget to mark the holes for the hardware — I reused the bolts and support tubes from my existing footsies which saved me some additional money.

Next, trace your template onto the cutting boards and cut them with your saw. Drill the holes for the hardware:



With the razor blade, scrape off the excess “flashing” from the cut edges…a power saw will sort of melt its way through the plastic material and leave a lot of fuzz on the edges. Next, sand the edges and corners…I put a gentle radius on all the edges and rounded off the corners so they wouldn’t dig into my or my passenger’s legs.

Finally, attach the hardware (support tube and hook-and-loop “keeper”) to the underside:


Now all you have to do is install into the ports on the Freeradical frame and go about your business!


The cutting board material is about the same thickness as the stock wooden footsies, but it flexes a little bit. That’s ok, because my passenger is fairly light. If you were so inclined, you could cut a double thickness of cutting boards and sandwich them together with longer bolts, or find some other way to reinforce them from below (with aluminum strip stock or the like). The cutting boards come with a non-slip surface, so no additional grip tape is needed. And, these boards are strong enough to go through a dishwasher, so rain, salt and snow will be no problem for them. They’re maintenance free, and they add a little bit of colorful dazzle to the back end of my cargo-hauling beast!


We’ve got a handful of other DIY Xtracycle projects in our archive, and we are always eager to hear about projects our readers have come up with. If you are in the sharing mood, just drop your project ideas in the comments below.

Guest Article: Struck by a City Bus in Jacksonville

Here’s a harrowing tale submitted by longtime reader and friend Abishek Mukherjee. Luckily, the story has a (mostly) happy ending…Shek escaped with only minor injuries and the Jacksonville Transit Authority (JTA) did the right thing by agreeing to buy him a replacement for his Xtracycle. Things could have been much worse, as you will see by the video feed from the JTA bus. Anyhow, read on:

On the 7th of September 2011 at 5:30 PM, a city bus hit me while I was riding my bicycle.

I was riding my Xtracycle to a North Florida Transportation Planning Organizaton meeting. Eastbound, I was riding on Riverside Ave. A Jacksonville Transit Authority bus was behind me. The city bus tried to pass me within inches and side-swiped me. If the bus was going to pass me, it had to give me at least 3 feet from the side of the bus during the pass. This is the law. This law is meant to protect me. But the bus driver failed to follow the law. The bus driver failed to be safe. I was thrown off my bike. The bike fell. The rear wheels of the bus ran over the bike.

As I picked myself up with pain in my lower-back and hip area and a bloody elbow, I noticed that the bus had stopped. As I hobbled towards the bus, the door opened. The driver said, “Rescue is coming. I called everyone.” As it turns out, he had called only his supervisor who called Rescue. When the police arrived on the scene with Fire Rescue, I gave them my story. The bus driver was not truthful. He tried to blame me. He gave them a different story, something like him going along merrily and me swerving into the bus hitting him. The city busses are equipped with cameras. Upon hearing from me what happened and viewing the video, the police officer assigned blame to the bus driver. The police officer disregarded the bus driver’s excuse for causing the crash. At the same time, the police officer did not ticket the bus driver for violating the 3 foot passing law. I worry that most police officers don’t even know about the law.

Rescue escorted me to the hospital close by. The pains in my hip area were excruciating. My left knee was swelling up and my left foot was aching. After a bucket-load of x-rays, the doctor announced that he could not find anything broken. He wrote me a prescription for pain killers and sent me home. Recovery has been slow. Between swellings, sore-points, ice packs and pain killers, I can only find relief in the fact that this could have been a lot worse. I am currently seeing a specialist about the residual pains that show no signs of going away three weeks after the accident.

(Editor’s note…look away if you get squeamish by pics of crushed bicycles):


Image courtesy Matt Uhrig of

The Xtracycle had a worse fate. It was built as a freeradical attached to a steel-framed Specialized Rockhopper. The bus ran over the freeradical and crumpled the frame which in turn twisted the rear triangle of the bike. The entire bike is totaled. My attorney, Chris Burns, an avid cyclist himself, insisted that the JTA replace my bicycle. They have given me a check for a new Xtracycle. It is a tremendous benefit to have an attorney on your side who is more than familiar with bicycling law.

It is frustrating that I was hit when I was riding safely and legally and correctly. I have been advocating for bicycles as transportation for over four years and I am intimately familiar with the law. I stop at every stop light and stop sign, even when riding in a group. I have always maintained that the law is insufficient to protect cyclists and the enforcement of the law is often lazy. It is a mere thin blanket of laws which allows bicycles on the road but fails to protect cyclists adequately. Most bicyclists own cars and/or property and are tax paying members of community. I am sure there is a lack of education to motorists about bicycle laws and better educated motorists may be more alert and accommodating on the road. On the other hand, education does not stop motorists from crashing into each other either.

Editor’s note: here’s the video feed from the cameras installed on JTA buses. As you can see, Shek was visible and in good lane position; the bus driver didn’t even try to comply with Florida’s 3-Foot Law, at least in my opinion:

September JTA Accident from Abhishek Mukherjee on Vimeo.

Matt Uhrig of Bike Jax has an excellent “companion article” that offers more detail and commentary. Take a look at it by clicking here. I will offer my own brief commentary, however; not on this incident but on the 3-Foot Law on Florida’s books. As good as this law is on paper, it is incredibly difficult to enforce. And, I am convinced that not enough people (including motorists, many cyclists, and law enforcement officials) are aware of the requirement to give a safe 3-foot passing “buffer” to cyclists on the roads. As you can read from Shek’s account, even though there was clear evidence of a violation of this 3-Foot Law, the bus driver wasn’t charged with that violation. Ironically, JTA buses have been running a “3-Foot Law Awareness Campaign” since 2008, when the law went into effect.