Urban Velo

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Fresh Off The Boat – Shanghai

NYC restaurant owner Eddie Huang has been gaining an enormous amount of publicity thanks to his popular internet television show, Fresh Off The Boat, and his memoir. Though bikes are rarely more than part of the backdrop on his show, the Shanghai episode features a couple who make extensive use of a cargo bike, earning their living by selling xiaochi, which translates to small eats.

It’s just really cool to see this family literally work out of their bedroom. They stack the chairs, the tables, all their equipment on one flatbed bicycle. This is their life, man. The thing that really hit home was that she said, “I’m just happy that everything I need is in these two hands. And I feel rewarded.”

Click here to watch the episode on Vice.com.

Publisher’s Statement #41

Maybe I’m just getting old, but this winter seems like it was the hardest I’ve ever experienced. Along with a near constant barrage of ominously named winter storms, the Weather Channel kept reminding me that it was something called the Polar Vortex that was keeping the air temperature far below zero, not to mention the wind chill factor.

And so here I am writing this a few days before the vernal equinox, lamenting the added pounds around my waist and the lack of snap in my legs. Taking the long way home has been a wretched thought the past few months, whereas the lure of takeaway curry and kung fu movies on Netflix has become increasingly hard to resist.

Read more.

Bandit Cross

Domestically, outlaw bike races have enjoyed an off-road, off-stage spotlight since the days of the Repack events on Mount Tamalpais back when Saber Tooth Tigers and Woolie Mammoths roamed the earth. Alleycats have been an urban cycling mainstay for almost two decades. In that time, roving bands of cyclists have eschewed traditionally organized events with insurance coverage and astronomical entry fees. The Bay Area has long been the home for off the grid events in every discipline of bike racing, and having a long and sordid history with these races, I was intrigued when Minneapolis resident and All-City Brand Manager Jeff Frane began organizing his own cyclocross series through the network of roads and trails along little traveled banks of the Mississippi River. Having watched the development of his races from afar, I was thrilled that one was to coincide with a previously scheduled trip to the Twin Cities.

Read more.

Blue Lug Now Offers International Shipping

etbackIf you’ve been to Japan, you know how good their bicycle shops are. And Blue Lug is one of the very best. They not only sell and service many of the top brands, they have lots of exclusive and original products.

Check out bluelug.com for more info.

Giant To Promote Sub $500 Bikes

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 10.00.29 PMFrom Bicycle Retailer:

Giant USA is targeting new, entry level bike consumers with a new campaign that includes lower retail prices on 30 models of bikes starting March 31.

The company is calling the campaign “Gateway to Adventure,” and said it will be more than just a short-term promotion.

“This is a long-range strategic change,” said John “JT” Thompson, Giant USA’s executive sales director in a statement Wednesday. “We’re making every effort possible to broaden the market and get more new consumers into our retailers’ stores.”

Read more.

Fairdale R&D

Zoic Really Long Socks

ZOIC Really Long SockHere’s a good idea for cold weather cycling—really long socks! Or really tall, if you will. The ski industry has been hip to this for years, and a few wise and fashion-forward bike brands have offered them, but I contend there’s still not enough. At 18″ tall, Zoic’s Really Long Sock adds warmth and versatility to your winter gear selection. They’re especially good for days when the weather might shift, as you can push them down the same way you do with arm warmers.

These socks are made from 70% polyester, 12% nylon and 18% spandex. They come in S/M or L/XL and retail for $15. Check out www.zoic.com

Timbuk2 x Red Hook Crit Especial Claro

timbuk2Timbuk2 just launched a super limited-edition (only 25 made) Red Hook Crit edition of their Especial Claro. The medium sized bag features lightweight and weatherproof construction, a padded ambidextrous shoulder strap, and of course Red Hook Crit embroidery. There’s room for a 15″ laptop and you can close the bag traditionally or like a roll-top.

Get one for $140 from shop.redhookcrit.com

Zoic Downtown Jacket

zoicThe Zoic Downtown Jacket is a simple, stylish softshell that’s also reasonably priced and very well thought-out.

Like much of my favorite cycling apparel, it only comes in black. The Downtown Jacket has some subtle blue accents as well as a small amount of reflective trim for safety’s sake. The soft, stretchable fabric looks good and feels good. It’s 86% polyester and 14% spandex with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating.

DSC_1176I’m always surprised at how well modern DWR softshells repel water, and this one is no exception. But keep in mind, you have to treat them right to maintain their performance. That means limit their trips to the washing machine (Zoic claims their treatment is good for 30 washes) and when you do wash it, it’s probably a good idea to use a DWR specific detergent such as those offered by Nikwax.

The jacket features a rather casual cut, which combined with the subtle branding makes it a nice choice for those of us who aren’t racer-boy slim. It’s also good for uurban riders who don’t like to stand out in a crowd. It features four zippered pockets, two for your hands, one on the lower back and one on the arm for your MP3 player (with internal cable routing). And while it is a relaxed fit jacket, it still offers a traditional drop tail, as well as an adjustable waistband.

The Downtown Jacket retails for $115 and comes in sizes M-XL. Check out www.zoic.com

Cateye Rapid X

Cateye Rapid XIf memory serves correct, my very first blinky light was a Cateye. The classic design used two AAA batteries and required a coin to pry the two halves apart from the yellow rubber gasket. That thing cost less than $10 and lasted for years until I either lost it or gave it away.

To say the blinky light market has evolved would be a gross understatement, but Cateye seems to have kept up with the times. The Rapid X features a state of the art COB LED module and a 200mAh USB-rechargable lithium ion battery. It weighs just 23g, which should make it an appealing option for road racers and weight weenies alike.

Cateye Rapid XOne of the best features of the Rapid X is the side visibility. It’s nearly as bright from 90° as it is from the back. Interestingly, the light isn’t overpoweringly bright. It seems that Cateye put more value on runtime than lumens, as the light is claimed to run for up to 30 hours in flashing mode. Regardless of which of the six modes you are in, when the battery gets low, the unit automatically switches to flashing mode, ensuring you an hour of burn time. Back home on the range, you’ll need just two hours to completely charge the battery.

Cateye Rapid XConstruction seems solid, and the tool-free elastomer-based mounting system is as simple as can be. While I used to be loathe to trust a rubber band to hold my light on, I’ve grown more confident as light manufacturers have obviously stepped up their game. One of the two provided mounting straps will allow you to mount it to 12–32mm tubes.

cateyeAt first I was going to complain that the rubber back panel comes off fairly easily, which could cause you to lose parts of the unit when charging or transporting it, but then I realized that won’t be a problem if you leave the mounting strap attached.

The Rapid X retails for about $40. Check out www.cateye.com

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