Urban Velo

Touring Japan with Juliet Elliot and Dave Noakes

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Richard Sachs Framebuilding Kits

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Richard Sachs needs no introduction, he’s one of the humble legends of the domestic framebuilder genre and has long offered signature lugs and tubesets for both professional and hobbyist builders. He first designed lugs for a supplier back in 1981, with the first Sachs branded lugs reaching the market in the early 2000s. In order to streamline ordering of the latest oversized Sachs frame bits, tubesets and lugs are now available packaed into kits — enough to make a full frame or fork, just add braze and a lot of hard work. PegoRichie frame kits are available for $280-300, fork kits for $130-150 with a few lug and tubing options each. You may not want to wait the years it takes to get a Sachs frame, but you can get a set of tubes right away if you’ve got the skills to put it together yourself. Check all the details of the kits and individual bits at www.richardsachs.com.

Brompton M6L Folding Bike Review

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Brompton folders are born from the small quarters and extensive public transit system of their London home, a place where indoor space is at a premium and multi-modal transport is key to making it across town on time. Founder Andrew Ritchie was introduced to an Australian folding bike by chance one day, and quickly thereafter began work on what would become the Brompton bicycle, deciding upon the signature method of folding the rear wheel under the bike with the first prototype.

Bromptons all share the same main frame design, with the model numbers designating the chosen options for the bike. The pictured model has an M-type handlebar, a 6-speed drivetrain, and the “L” fender kit optionthe Brompton M6L. The frame, hinges, and many of the small parts are not only designed but fabricated in Brompton’s London factory, making for a truly unique complete bicycle benefitting from years of subtle refinements to the same basic design.

brompton_m6l_s-3Three pivots allow the bike to fold in three basic steps. Unhook the small lever on the rear suspension bumper and the rear wheel swings under the frame as the first step, leaving the bike in a freestanding, partially folded, parked position. Next, release the frame hinge and swing the front wheel back. Finally release and fold the bars down, stow the folding pedal, and lower the seatpost fully to lock the bike in the folded position. The process easily takes less than 30 seconds after a few practice runs, and thanks to the 16” wheels ends with such a compact package (23” x 21.5” x 10.6”) that some have even had success bringing it along as carry-on luggage. The chain and cables conveniently end up to the inside of the folded package.

brompton_m6l_s-2We handed off the Brompton M6L to Ngani Ndimbie, Communications Manager of Bike Pittsburgh, for feedback: “The six speed drivetrain was more than adequate to conquer all of my usual hills, and I was easily able to keep up with conventional bikes while riding in a group. It’s easy to shift gears with the Sturmey-Archer internal three speed hub and Brompton designed two speed external derailleur and shifters. The long stem flexes enough that I never felt comfortable standing while climbing, though wheelies are easy and the bike handles really well once you have time on it. I did sometimes yearn for larger wheels.”

brompton_m6l_s-1“While I’ll admit that I occasionally felt like a dweeb riding around town on the Brompton, that all changed with the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference where folders proved to be the official bike of active transportation nerds on the go,” Ngani continued. “Folding was easy the first timeI watched a quick video and mimicked the motions. Without the video I folded it incorrectly at least two times, once leaving me getting on the bus with both arms wrapped around an inexpertly folded bike. With use it became easier, and with time it would be second nature.”

brompton_m6l_s-6There is no doubt that the small 16” wheels and long, unsupported stem rides differently than a traditionally constructed bicycle, but after a short adjustment period the Brompton M6L rides reasonably well at city speeds. While plenty of people have ridden a Brompton long distances or even raced them, the small wheels can be harsh with rocks and potholes becoming proportionally bigger as compared to more forgiving, larger diameter wheels. Given the wheel size and design constraints of a folder, you couldn’t ask for a much better handling bike. Expecting the ride of a conventional bike will lead to disappointment, using a folder to ride when or where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to is where a Brompton truly shines. Throw it in the trunk of a car,

brompton_m6l_s-1Brompton is single minded in trying to create the best folding bike on the market. The attention to purpose is clear from the folding action itself to the hinge quality, and on through the small details of a single folding pedal and ancillary wheels to help roll the folded machine through a crowded station. Commuters can easily click bags on and off the headtube mounted cleat, and a rear rack is available to further expand carrying capacity. The quick folding action is key to using the bike as intended on mass transit and in and out of buildings, with an open-bottom bag available to disguise the bike as just another piece of luggage in less-than-bike-friendly businesses and workplaces.

Bromptons are premium folders, but are priced competitively as compared to other UK or USA-made bicycles, with complete bikes starting around $1200, and the M6L as tested coming in at $1625.

All-City Out There

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Cities are great to live in, bicycles are great ways to escape. All-City gets out there.

Swobo Scofflaw

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The $1249 Swobo Scofflaw is meant to take you off the beaten path where some mustachioed man can question your presence. The Reynolds 531 steel frame features a tapered carbon fork, Avid BB7s disc brakes, sliding dropouts and fender mounts for the commute. Clearance for up to 42 mm tires lets you put some meaty treads on, and while the complete bike ships as a single speed it comes equipped with a cassette hub, narrow-wide chainring and derailleur hanger — ready for a 1x setup. This looks like a great bike to get lost on all day, or for a quick city lap with friends come nightfall. Great platform to ride as is, or build up and upgrade as you go. With full length housing mounts, it wouldn’t be that hard to have an alternate geared setup that only takes half an hour of wrenching to swap. Pre-order today for $50 and get one when they become available in January 2015.

Chrome WARM

chrome_warm-1 Chrome has gone into clothing hard over the past few years, making some really great product along the way. The latest Chrome WARM line looks like more good stuff – workwear looks with polyfill insulation, ripstop nylon construction and a reversible high visibility design for night time safety. Just in time for the changing seasons.

Stanridge Speed – Katie Arnold – Women’s Red Hook Crit

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Supergear Retrodirect Planetary Gear Crankset

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supergear_crank-2 Just when you thought you’ve seen it all someone puts a Supergear crankset by Ziegler-Lam Cycling on the table. At first glance it looks like any number of other small maker cranks from the ’90s mountain bike and CNC’d everthing boom, needless stress risers, chunky corners and all. Grab hold of the bottom bracket and spin it forward and it acts as per usual, pedal backwards and the rings continue rotating forwards at about half speed, doubling the number of available gears. Retrodirect systems pop up through bicycle history now and again, an old design from before effective derailleurs that allows two gears (one gear pedaling forward, a lower gear pedaling backwards). Tinkerers put together modern retrodirect bikes just to prove the concept, and it still works (1, 2). The Supergear is a three ring setup with a planetary gear system that achieves the same effect, and was marketed as the only crankset to integrate a retrodirect system. This is likely from the days of seven speed cassettes, building up as a 42 speed bicycle. Throw some 11 speed rings on there and make a 66 speed bicycle, pair it with an internally geared hub and really go nuts. Interesting, but no surprise that the design isn’t around today. If only I could go back in time and see people mountain biking with a Supergear in the wild, or find someone running one on their bike today. Someone out there has one of these and swears by it.

Dumpster Diving Cross Country Bike Tour

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Most of us living in America are responsible for throwing out a lot of food, enough that there is a whole culture of dumpster diving out there. Rob Greenfield is riding across the country subsisting on nothing but food rescued from the dumpster to shed a small bit of light on the issue of food waste. From TakePart, To Spotlight Food Waste, This Activist Is Biking Across the U.S. and Only Eating out of Dumpsters:

Greenfield is riding his bicycle across America—which to most of us would seem adventurous enough. He started his coast-to-coast ride in San Diego on June 2 and plans to finish in New York City on Sept. 26. Halfway through his journey, Greenfield decided to see if he could eat solely out of Dumpsters located behind grocery stores and convenience stores.

This year Greenfield planned his trip route so that he could take advantage of major media markets. When he arrives in a city he holds what he calls “Food Waste Fiascoes.” He’ll grab a friend with a car, and they’ll hit up some Dumpsters.

The following day, Greenfield spreads out his finds on the grass at a local park. He uses social media to invite television stations, news outlets, and regular people to come check out his formerly trashed food and get educated about the food-waste problem.

Read the entire article at www.takepart.com

The Museum of Science and Industry Bicycle Photo Prints

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The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago recently added images to its online collection available for free viewing, or for purchase for display. The early bicycle and motorcycle collection is pretty amazing, with a number of high quality images of just amazing and perhaps one of a kind bicycle examples from their collection. Hobbyhorse pre-bikes, ordinaries, long forgotten early safety designs, and turn of the 20th century bikes that aren’t far off from what we ride today. Prints start at less than $20, with large canvas wraps up to about $200.

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