Urban Velo

Bamboo Biker Boys

Bamboo Bicycle Club is a London based organization holding workshops teaching everyday riders how to build their own bicycle using bamboo and carbon fiber wraps. Two days and you too can have your own bamboo bike, and a bit better understanding of how it all comes together.

Ted Baker Bike Hip Flask

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Flasks make great gifts, even if most everyone who wants one already has one. Check this 6 oz printed Ted Baker flask featuring an early racing motif.

Ruckus Composites Frame Raffle

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Ruckus Composites is perhaps the gold standard in carbon repair services with a couple of thousand frames per year getting a new life through their shop. Sometimes a frame is left behind… and now Ruckus has decided to repair, repaint and raffle off the bikes for charity. The first two frames will be raffled in support of Presented By Let’s Race Bikes (PBLRB), an Oregon based project dedicated to supporting and enabling elite female cyclists to compete on a national level. Tickets are $25 each or 3 for $60, with all proceeds going to PBLRB. Winners and totals announced on June 17th.

City of Pittsburgh Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Job Opening

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Over the past few years our hometown of Pittsburgh has become quite the cycling city, and the CIty of Pittsburgh is looking for a new Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator to usher in the next era. We have a beautiful city with a strong and established bicycle advocacy non-profit and a progressive administration that is fully embracing bike/ped improvement as the future of urban living. This is a unique opportunity for the right person to make a mark on Pittsburgh and change the streetscape for decades to come. Check out the job requirements and get your application in by June 24th.

All-City JYD

Want. The All-City JYD is a rare bird these days, a rim brake mountain bike platform without any of the bells and whistles that make modern bikes heavy, complicated and expensive. It goes back to the days of old, one bike for most everything, a simple and bombproof build with a single gear, rim brakes and no provision for suspension. Put some knobby tires in it to thrash in the woods, put some big slick tires on for the city, add fenders for the adventure. It doesn’t have fork mounted bottle bosses. It doesn’t have disc tabs. It doesn’t have a press-fit bottom bracket or a tapered steerer tube or any woven plastic. It does have two wheels, a fancy 5-piece segmented fork, and enough of that old-school mountain look to get my nostalgia meter going.

Is it a pure mountain bike? A giant BMX cruiser? Neither really, more a pure ripper for whatever you’ve got going on. It’s a modern take on the ’90s mountain bikes that make such good city rides, but with 29″ wheels for more getting rad. My personal favorite flavor of the month isn’t far off from this one, a rim brake single speed ‘cross build with riser bars and v-brakes, though I’d certainly welcome the larger tire clearance. Just 150 framesets slated for this year at about $550 from your local dealer.

The Big Ones – Rapha Rice Cake Corndog Parody

The SF Composite High School Mountain Bike Team so gets it. Bravo.

View the original Raphia Rice Cakes video.

Cycling Legalese: Is Riding Two Abreast Legal?

bkevinidesCycling Legalese is our online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides.

Riding with friends is great, until you get accosted for riding with friends. Just what is the legalese about riding next to one another on the roadway?

Q:I had an angry driver accost us on a casual ride about taking up the whole road. We were in the rightmost lane, riding more or less with traffic, and two abreast. What are the laws on riding two abreast?

The law as it regards riding single file versus two abreast, a.k.a., riding next to each other, tends to reflect the frustration and sometimes hostility between those who like to use their bikes for transportation and exercise and those who think bikes belong on sidewalks or on limited use paths. In many places in the United States riding two abreast is legal; except when it isn’t. In some places it is explicitly prohibited. Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide a bright line rule. Much will depend on the law of the state you are in, the local ordinance of the town you are riding through (which may differ from the state’s vehicle code), the width of the roadway and the judgment of a police officer.

I recognize that this is not a satisfactory answer, but hopefully an explanation will offer some guidance.

The law in New York is as good an example as any of the “it depends” rule. Section 1234(b) of the New York Vehicle Code says:

Persons riding bicycles… upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast. Simple, right? You can ride two abreast but not three or more.

But the section continues: Persons riding bicycles upon a shoulder, bicycle… lane, or bicycle… path, intended for the use of bicycles… may ride two or more abreast if sufficient space is available.

The section adds, however, that when passing another user of the bike path or lane, cyclists must do so while riding single file.

Okay, but wait: Persons riding bicycles… upon a roadway shall ride… single file when being overtaken by a vehicle.

So it appears that while street riding in New York, you may ride two abreast; that is until a driver feels that you are in the way and wants to pass. Then you must revert to single file. Got that?

Let’s take a look at Illinois.

As in New York, the Illinois legislature giveth, then it taketh away.

The relevant state statute says: Persons riding bicycles or motorized pedal cycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use.

That is the give. You can ride two abreast. Now for the take: Persons riding 2 abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane…

This does not seem quite as onerous as the New York law. Still, there is much left open to interpretation so as to erode the confidence of cyclists when riding two abreast. What exactly does it mean to “impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic?” What traffic? Motor vehicle traffic? Bicycle traffic? And who gets to decide? Generally it will be a police officer who makes the controlling judgment call. The officer will likely look to another section of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code for guidance which states that a person on a bicycle riding: at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable and safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

To the extent that the left most rider riding two abreast is not as close as practicable and safe to the right side of the road, he or she may be subject to a traffic citation.

But wait, it gets even trickier in the Land of Lincoln. Some towns/municipalities have taken it upon themselves to regulate this issue. This means that during a single ride the law may change as you pedal across town boundaries. For example, let’s say you would like to begin a group ride with your buddies in Chicago and head north into the suburbs, a very common practice for club riders here. At the beginning of the ride in the City you may ride two abreast, so long as you are not impeding traffic. However, as you reach the North Shore suburb of Winnetka you must “ride single-file, except on paths or parts of roads which are set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.” To the best of my knowledge, cyclists are not warned of a change in the law as they enter Winnetka. Perhaps a sign that says something like, “Welcome To Winnetka; Now Get In Single File” would alert cyclists to adjust their group riding formation accordingly. Absent that, it seems that before setting out with a buddy on a ride in Illinois, you must research the local ordinance of each town you plan to pass through. Because what’s more fun than preparing for a bike ride by doing a whole bunch of legal research?

California has taken an arguably novel approach to this issue. Its state code says this about two abreast vs. single file riding: Nothing. The California vehicle code does not address the matter at all. So that means you can ride two, three, four, five, etc. abreast in that state, right? Not so fast. As we saw in Illinois, some municipalities in California have taken it upon themselves to address the matter.

For example, a local ordinance in Torrance states: Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

In that city cyclists may ride two abreast at most. As for the rest of the state, the vehicle code’s silence on the issue does not necessarily equate to smooth traveling through the legal landscape. In 2010, The Press Democrat, a California newspaper, documented conflicts between bicyclists and drivers in Sonoma County. The paper asked a member of the California Highway Patrol to offer his take on drivers’ complaints of cyclists riding next to each other rather than single file. Somewhat predictably the patrolman noted that the state’s vehicle code (like that in every other state) requires cyclists to ride as close to the right edge of the road as practicable. However, he admitted that “Riders do not have to ride single file in CA.”

But… He interprets the law as requiring, “If traffic traveling in the same direction approaches them [the cyclists], then they must move as far to the right as practicable. So, even if it is only one car that comes up behind them, if there is a rider that is alongside another, and in the traffic lane, they must pull in behind or ahead of the rider. If they can safely ride abreast in a marked bike lane, they would not have to do this.” In short, cyclists not riding single file where a car wishes to pass are subject to citation.

So, what is the takeaway from this sampling of the law in three big states with major metropolitan areas? It is that unless riding two or more abreast is explicitly outlawed (I’m looking at you Winnetka, IL), you may do so without getting hassled by the police so long as there are no drivers who wish to pass. If a driver going in the same direction wishes to pass the best practice to avoid legal trouble is to revert to single file.

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—Disclaimer—
Nothing contained in this column should be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein may or may not match your individual situation. Also, laws differ from place to place and tend to change over time. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction. This column is meant to promote awareness of a general legal issue. As such, it is meant as entertainment. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.
—Disclaimer—

Vaya Bags Blue Lagoon Rolltop Backpack Review

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Single strap messenger bags were the epitome of urban cycling chic for well over a decade, but now is the era of the backpack. Backpacks are more comfortable and more practical for most anyone besides working couriers, with small day packs like this rolltop from Vaya growing in favor.

Vaya is a one woman shop out of the borough of Queens in New York City, handcrafting messenger bags and backpacks out of recycled canvas and surplus Sunbrella sailboat fabric. The Blue Lagoon Rolltop is a compact day bag measuring just 9.5” x 5.5” x 15” closed, featuring an interior laptop sleeve, expanding front pocket, minimalist straps and a u-lock or bottle holder. The bag is made from waterproof Sunbrella fabric, with an 18 oz vinyl coated liner and seatbelt webbing straps, with an attractive blue color scheme incorporating repurposed tubes on the body. The Blue Lagoon has just enough space for the work commute essentials like tools, a laptop, and an extra layer but not much else—you won’t be stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work unless you don’t mind things hanging out the top of the bag. Rolltop closures are nice because of the way they allow you to overload when necessary, with the extra long strap helping to keep cargo in place but otherwise swinging around a bit more than I’d like when walking. The outer expanding pocket is nice for easy access to lights, gloves and your phone, and doesn’t interfere with the interior capacity, but is not totally waterproof like the rest of the bag.

Reflective patches on the sides and strap are always welcome, as is the reinforced base for long wear and added protection when putting the bag down on wet ground. I like the minimalist straps, you’re simply never going to fill this bag up enough to warrant heavy pads, and the seatbelt webbing was comfortable even with just a t-shirt. The side bottle holder is great for keeping liquids far away from electronics along for the ride, and handy for carrying a u-lock otherwise. Some of the stitching isn’t as perfect looking as some other bags I’ve seen, but overall construction is solid and clearly well thought out by someone who rides and cares about the bags leaving her shop. I expect to get many years out of this bag from Vaya. Available for $195, or in a single color as the Simple Rolltop for $175.

Fuji Feather CX 1.1 Bike Review

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Cyclocross bikes have long been a choice for the rider looking for a versatile machine—enjoyable on long road rides, capable on trails and light singletrack, able to handle a light tour and near perfect for the committed medium to long distance commuter. As cyclocross racing has grown the selection of bikes under the ‘cross umbrella is wider than ever, from thoroughbred race machines to traditional steel frames and performance commuters.

Trickle down tech is at the core of most any consumer industry, and the Fuji Feather CX 1.1 takes advantage of what has become the new normal at the high end of spec and brings it to a $1220 complete bike ready for the 9-5 and your next mixed surface adventure. The butted aluminum frame features a post mount disc brake, a tapered headtube with a 1 1/2” lower bearing, and a press-fit BB86 bottom bracket. The carbon blade fork has a durable aluminum steerer and dropouts, and a post mount disc brake as well. Single fender eyelets adorn both the frame and fork, with seatstay mounts for a rear rack and a pair of bottle mounts for when the miles start to rack up. Geometry wise the CX 1.1 borrows heavily from Fuji’s race bikes with a few tweaks to fit larger volume tires that ends up with an 11 mm longer wheelbase overall.

The component spec of the Feather CX 1.1 is nothing much to write home about—a 9-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain and industry standard Avid BB5r brakes with 160 mm rotors do the name brand duties, with no-name Vera wheels and house brand Oval Concepts parts otherwise finishing off the bike. The 50/34 chainrings and 11-32 cassette provide a well thought out, wide gear range and while 9-speed isn’t the newest in new it has proven a durable choice with some long time adherents. The wheels are an odd mix of bladed spokes and mountain bike width 19 mm rims — very likely to stay true over many a pothole, but sluggish feeling on a long ride. Disc brakes come with their own weight penalty, coupled with overbuilt wheels the Fuji Feather CX 1.1 weighs 23.9 lbs. Contrary to the spec sheet our 58 cm review bike came with 170 mm cranks, definitely short for the people riding this bike and something I would have asked a dealer to swap before purchase. The blacked out, gloss on matte finish on the frame and fork is hard to beat, it’s a shame the Oval components don’t match.

City streets, light trails, dirt roads—the Feather CX 1.1 has the person that can’t keep their bike clean in mind. Add a full set of fenders and it makes a solid choice for an everyday vehicle that should last the long haul, stock it is more than up for hitting that dirt road loop a dozen miles outside of town. The geometry isn’t dumbed down in the name of relaxed commuting, giving the bike the handling character so many love about cyclocross bikes.

The frameset is where you should be spending your money, and the Feather CX 1.1 gives you a platform to grow with over the years. The press fit BB86 bottom bracket makes the bike compatible with any number of high end cranksets out there, and while I had no problems throughout the test I’m not the only one still skeptical of the benefits of press fit bottom brackets. Post mount brakes are welcome, even if I had issues with the stock spacers deforming during setup. I do wish that the full-length rear brake housing had another cable stop along the top tube to curb what is an otherwise annoying rattle without a loop of electrical tape, even if it’s an easy DIY solution.

Ride it now, keep your eyes peeled for deals on the easy weight saving upgrades and pick up a racier groupset a few years down the line when the original Sora drivetrain is worn out. While neither the lightest nor the snappiest accelerating bike out there, for the non-racer the Fuji Feather CX 1.1 proves a solid disc brake ‘cross commuter and weekend explorer. The Feather CX 1.1 is available in five sizes from 48 – 60 cm, with a lower spec’d $1000 CX 1.3 also available.

Cutters Ball Shopbike Shootout Video

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I couldn’t be happier that winter is over, even if some cool stuff happens when it gets ugly. The Cutters Ball and Shopbike Shootout video has surfaced. Slippery.

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