This Saturday on August 16th is the 9th Annual Seattle Bike-In at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, presented by the Northwest Film Forum and the Gigantic Bicycle Festival. Starting at 8pm take in eight bike-shorts and the feature length Premium Rush, free of charge.
Bianchi has updated their popular Volpe line of do-it-all cyclocross bikes with the 2015 Volpe Disc. The disc specific steel frame and fork has rack and fender mounts for versatility and ships with 35 mm tires, a 10-speed 50/34 double Tiagra drivetrain, and Hayes mechanical disc brakes. If disc brakes aren’t your thing the Volpe Classic has a triple drivetrain and cantilever brakes on a similar platform. See more of the 2015 sneak peak, including the new full carbon disc equipped Zolder cyclocross bike, from a Bianchi insider at www.stickboybike.com
Shortly after Surly introduced the Cross Check some fifteen years ago, someone chimed in that they wished for a disc brake option. After introducing a bunch of other bikes and “inventing” a category or two along the way, Surly took a sideways glance at their cyclocross bike and gave us the Straggler. It’s like the Cross Check with all of the same rack and fender braze-ons as the current generation, but different. Larger tire clearance, disc brake mounts and a new horizontal dropout design for either single speed or geared drivetrains. And it’s even heavier at 7 pounds for the frameset, give or take an ounce. This isn’t really a bike for someone counting the ounces of anything but their beverage of choice.
The Straggler excels at no single thing, but is capable of many. It’s a disc brake ‘cross bike erring towards adventure and utility rather than speed and lightweight. The Straggler has clearance for up to 44 mm wide tire with full fenders, and builds up with as standard components as you can get for a versatile bike that can evolve as your interests change. I decided on a mix of ‘cross and mountain components—a 46/36 crankset, 12-36 cassette, riser bars, top-mount shifters and hydraulic disc brakes—for an all day, all terrain city explorer capable of wherever an aimless ride may steer. It’s 26.5 lbs as pictured, but I didn’t put any thought into lightweight spec, and there are some easy places to trim.
Describing the ride isn’t full of superlatives—it’s well-worn cyclocross geometry tuned for larger tires, “monstercross” as some may have it. The chainstays remain short (430 mm on my 59 cm sample) even with the clearance for large tires, with the ride height kept in check by the 72 mm bottom bracket drop, yielding a very stable ride with smaller diameter road tires, and a bottom bracket height in the normal range with the largest tires that will fit. I’ve not had any issues with my wheel sliding forward in the dropouts even without using the included screw adjusters. It has never felt particularly fast, but it’s a stable ride—the Straggler goes where you point it and keeps at it. What it lacks in speed in makes up for in fun. Rip it through the woods today, bolt on racks and head out for a few day tour tomorrow, ride it to work again next week. About my only wish for the bike would be a third bottle mount under the downtube for when the going gets extra thirsty, and maybe a pump peg.
Over time I’m sure this build will change, and that’s part of the long term plan. Changing tires and dropping the derailleurs doesn’t take much time in the stand, and makes for an entirely different ride experience. There are a lot of parts combinations to build a super commuter or dirt road tourer or something in between on the Straggler platform. Just don’t mistake it for a cyclocross race bike or fast-guy road bike and you won’t be disappointed.
The Straggler frameset is available for $600 in a remarkable ten sizes, 42-64 cm, in either Glitter Dreams purple or Closet Black. Newly announced is the Straggler 650b, a similar flavor in the betweener wheel diameter in eight sizes including the smallest Surly yet, 38-58 cm.
Sarah Pearman rides her Surly Straggler for transportation, endurance road rides like the 375 mile Crush the Commonwealth, and occasionally on the local singletrack. She had some things to report.
Disc brakes on a road bike are a game changer, especially for me as a small-handed human who has had serious difficulties getting my past bikes to stop with road levers and cantilevers. Given the “standard” frame specs—English bottom bracket, 27.2 mm post, 135 mm rear spacing—I was able to build mine from parts I already had.
Most of my struggles with bikes are related to fit since I’m just barely tall enough to ride a 700c bike and hate toe overlap. The 46 cm Straggler manages not to have toe overlap up to a 32 mm slick tire, which is better than some tiny bikes, but anything larger and I find my frustration level rise.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun with big tires—I can fit skinny 29” mountain tires on it, but it’s even better now that I’ve realized I can fit my 650b mountain bike wheels. It fits a 2.1” up front without significant toe overlap, and 2.0” in the back, for serious monstercross activities. Surly read my mind and just announced the 650b Straggler, which seems like it might fit me even better out of the box.
Between their usual wide breadth of stock colors and now the latest limited edition Nutcase Unframed artist helmet designs there is no shortage of different styles to choose from. The first run of Nutcase Unframed edition helmets features art by Sandra Ramirez from Columbia, Ray Moore from Germany and Todd Standish from San Francisco. In addition to the helmets, art panels will be on display in the Nutcase booth at Eurobike and Interbike, and auctioned off to benefit World Bicycle Relief.
We first showed you the Vier compact lock about a year back, and since then the design has been further refined and has hit Kickstarter for the final push into production. Perhaps not as quick to deploy as a u-lock, but it packs down much smaller thanks to the way that all four parts separate and fit into a small pouch. Click and twist the 14 mm shackles into the non-locking end body, then slide the body with the lock core on and go, just like the u-lock you’re familiar with. While compact, it’s not hte lightest at approximately 3.25 lbs. Eventually you’ll be able to order up longer shackle sections for securing multiple bikes in a garage or apartment, definitely an intriguing concept for home or work storage that is higher security than the braided cable so many of us rely on indoors. No lock is perfectly secure, and the Vier team has their mind straight on it, “Our main goal was to design a lock with the same level of security as a U-lock but in a compact form. VIER will protect your bike against lock picking, prying, hacksaws and bolt cutters. No lock on the market can protect us against angle grinders and hydraulic powered jacks.” Get in early for $65 at their Kickstarter and receive your lock by the new year.
If you are in Portland this weekend, don’t miss the 2014 Portland Design Works Omnium held at the Alpenrose Velodrome. $15 for adults to race, $5 for juniors, and free entry for the attendees. Head on down and enjoy some free BBQ, free rootbeer and free ice cream and watch a bunch of people go fast and turn left. Party down, wish I was there.
Dahon has recently announced their Explorers Program, and is looking for half a dozen riders to share how they use a folding bike to explore their world. Apply and you might find yourself with a new bike.
Cyclist are encouraged to submit a brief description of why they would be a perfect brand ambassadors for DAHON and how their stories could inspire others to incorporate bike into their lifestyle.
What makes the commute to work exciting?
Where will your DAHON bike take you?
How will a folding bike change the way you live, experience the environment on a deeper level and move around without constraints?
Submissions will be accepted until August 20, 2014 at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re getting one of these in for review soon, but until then check out the Pixel on video.
The ABUS Granit Futura Mini U-Lock has been my go-to lock for almost three years now, locking up my bike on streets across the country and throughout Western Europe. Whether making my daily Post Office run or locking up in high theft cities like New York, San Francisco and London, in every instance my bike has been there when I’ve returned, which is perhaps the ultimate positive review.
One only needs a lock better than the next person to avoid theft in most cases, and the sense to only lock to sturdy immovable objects, and with this mini u-lock from ABUS I’m fairly certain that in the vast majority of cases I have the next guy down outgunned. The reputation of German engineering is well-earned, and the family-owned ABUS lock company upholds the lofty national standards. The 11 mm shackle and case are made of a custom formulated hardened steel alloy with a double locking cylinder that requires a thief to cut the shackle twice in order to free the lock without a key. The top-end lock cylinder is pick and corrosion resistant—I’d know, as an unplanned back pocket lock ejection left one of my ABUS Granit Futura locks laying out in the rain and mud for a weekend before being retrieved, and working as well as ever. Each lock ships with a pair of keys and a key code card for additional keys, or for ordering an identically keyed lock. It’s hard to explain how convenient having a pair of u-locks using the same key has proven in high-risk theft areas.
At 690 g the ABUS Granit Future mini is the lightest high security mini-shackle lock I’ve used, beating similar competition by 300 g or more. Be forewarned however that at just 2.75” wide the shackle opening can be impossible to fit around certain parking meters or large diameter signposts other locks slide over. That said, over the years I’ve yet to find myself completely frustrated by the size—quite the contrary, it easily slides into pants’ rear pockets and my backpack and I’d prefer the lighter weight to larger shackle any time. Being made in Germany by well-compensated, dedicated employees with top-end materials and testing comes at a retail price of $85. There are less expensive locks, there are higher security locks, but this one fits my needs just right.
Fixed freestyle — not dead, still fun to watch.