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LA Bicycle Commuters Form ‘Bike Trains’ For Safety

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 9.32.57 PMFrom NPR:

A grassroots project in Los Angeles – a city, of course, dominated by cars – is helping those who commute by bicycle but don’t like being out there alone in traffic – called LA Bike Trains. It’s built on the idea of strength in numbers.

Read more.

10th Annual Aeolian Ride

10 years ago, 52 people showed up on bikes and Jessica Findley put inflatable costumes on them and they rode from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Check out www.aeolian-ride.info

The Bike Design Project – Voting Now Open

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Voting begins today for The Bike Design Project, a design competition which partners five design firms with American bike builders to create the “Ultimate Urban Utility Bike.” The competition includes teams from Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. The winning design will be announced on August 4th and the winning design will be manufactured by Fuji Bikes in 2015.

Check out oregonmanifest.com/vote

Montague Folding Bike Giveaway

montague_folding_bike_giveaway_competition

Montague is giving away a Crosstown—a 7-speed, 700c folding road bike. You just have to answer two questions: If you receive a Montague Crosstown, what would you use it for? How would you utilize the bike’s folding feature? Click here to enter.

In It Together Fest and Alleycat

In It Together Fest Alleycat flyerIn It Together Fest (InFest) is a celebration of underground art, music, and activism throughout DC, running from July 31–August 3. It’s four days of shows, workshops, and activism; occurring in DC’s homes, basements, and other non-commercial creative spaces. And on Day Three of InFest, there’s also a kickass alleycat!

The InFest Alleycat is like a tour de DIY. The race will guide riders to the city’s myriad creative spaces—checkpoints at community-built skateparks, house venues, graffiti havens, art trails, etc. Along the way, checkpoint tasks will encourage riders to participate in creative expressions.

Check out www.infestdc.org

Halo Vapour Wheels

halo vapour wheels

Halo is a UK-based brand founded in 1995. Their initial focus was on bikes that were designed to take flight, but they’ve expanded their line to include cross country mountain bike and road bike wheels. And with stateside distribution they’re set to make their mark on the US market.

DSC_1698When I set out to build my latest city bike, I knew that I didn’t want wimpy wheels, and I didn’t want anything proprietary—not even straight pull or bladed spokes. Even though I’m not known as a wheel crusher, I do like to go off road whenever possible, and my shortcuts often include some of the roughest alleys and parking lots in town. Plus, the bike in question, a Surly Straggler, is spaced for a 135 mm mountain bike rear hub. Enter the Halo Vapour wheelset.

Designed for serious mountain biking, but not necessarily racing, the Vapour wheelset features 32-hole, deep section, 26 mm wide rims. Made from heat treated T10 aluminum, they’re double walled with eyelets for durability. For the duration of this test the rims held 700 x 35c steel beaded tires. I would think the wide profile wouldn’t work well with anything smaller than a 700 x 32c.

DSC_1699The rims come laced to forged alloy hubs. Both front and rear feature international standard six-bolt disc rotor mounts. The rear hub uses six double-point pawls which equates to 12 points of engagement. I really can’t ask for more when it comes to responsiveness, and whir of the freehub sounds like that of a very expensive hub.

Aesthetically, these may be a bit flashy for a city bike, but I like them. The red anodized nipples offer a splash of color without looking gaudy, and the rim graphics warrent a double take. That’s neither silver ink nor faux-brushed aluminum decals—the graphics are laser etched into the rims.

DSC_1712The rims are tubless compatible though the rim strips and valves not included. The hubs do include an assortment of hardware and adapters for 15 & 20mm axles.

As tested the wheels weighed 872 g front and 961 g rear. Retail price is $199 front and $295 rear. Check out www.halo-usa.com

New Albion Homebrew

New Albion Homebrew

In 1579 Sir Francis Drake landed in northern California and dubbed it New Albion. In 1976, Jack McAuliffe founded the now defunct New Albion brewery in Sonoma, which was regarded as the first American microbrewery. And in 2012, New Albion Cycles formed with the idea of bringing classic bicycle designs to the market. The Homebrew is their flagship model.

The Homebrew is best described as a classic roadbike with a hint of modern technology. It joins just a handful of bikes on the market with downtube shifters. The steel frameset is lugged and TIG welded, and of course readily accepts racks and fenders. The fork features a 1” quill stem and eyelets for a mini rack and fenders.

The Homebrew offers a classic cycling experience that countless cyclists have enjoyed in recent years by restoring second hand bikes from the 80’s. But not only are those old bikes becoming harder to find, their downfalls are eventually exposed, namely poor braking, a lack of hill-friendly gearing, and limited tire clearance. The Homebrew takes care of all of those things with aplomb.

New Albion HomebrewIf you’ve never ridden with single-pivot brakes you might not appreciate the mechanical advantage that dual-pivot side-pull caliper brakes offer. But it’s night and day, and so thankfully New Albion decided not to go that retro. The IRD B57’s have clearance for up to 32mm tires, which is good because the Homebrew can accept them. It ships with 700 x 28c Kenda Kwick tires.

The tires might be more aptly named Komfortable, as they’re rather high volume and low pressure (85 psi max) makes for an incredibly comfortable ride. The tires are mounted to 32-spoke polished aluminum rims.

IMG_3632The drivetrain is predominantly composed of Sun Race components. I have nothing but good things to say about this groupset, and the pairing of a 50-32 crankset with an 11-32 cassette was highly appreciated. Pittsburgh, like San Francisco, is a city known for its steep hills.

Downtube shifters aren’t for everyone. They’re not as convenient as STI or even bar-end shifters. But they get the job done. They also make for a clean looking handlebar with less cables to interfere with a front rack, should you choose to go that route.

IMG_3665I did, in fact, ride the Homebrew with both front and rear racks for the majority of the test. I occasionally strapped packages to the rear rack, but I rode with a handlebar bag nearly every single time. The additional weight on the bars was quite obvious at times, especially on rough roads and when locking the bike up. But for the most part it wasn’t a hindrance. And because I was usually able to fit everything I needed for the day in said bag, I was able to commute on the hottest days of the year without a backpack or messenger bag. For someone like me, who almost never rides without one, the experience is refreshing.

And that might be the essence of the Homebrew, it’s a refreshing change of pace. It’s not a technological wonder, it’s a classic. The kind of bike your parents rode, the kind that made millions of people fall in love with cycling. It’s also worth noting that the bike is simply beautiful, as countless people pointed out during my time on the Homebrew.

IMG_3648Detractors may point out that the frame and fork are made from high tensile steel and not chromoly, but the difference is predominantly a matter of weight, not performance or safety. The decision of course is a matter of cost, which might seem unlikely since at $999 the Homebrew doesn’t fit into the category of affordable, but I contend that it’s worth considering. You’re not going to see a million of these on the streets of your city, and some people like to have a bike that no one else has. But I digress.

At the moment I have 16 working bicycles at my disposal. Even though another one might be more appropriate for a given ride, I keep opting for the Homebrew. That pretty much sums it all up. Check out www.newalbioncycles.com

Win an Abus Bordo 5700

uGripBordo5700_IMG_3741 copyEnter our Facebook contest to win an Abus Bordo 5700.

With the Bordo, ABUS has revolutionized the bicycle lock and established an entirely new type of lock. The Bordo family offers light weight and flexibility in a compact design. Features include 5 mm steel bars and a premium cylinder for high protection against picking. Click here to enter.

Contest ends August 10, 2014.

WOHO Introduces the Flying Fender 2.0

WOHO has released an updated version of their Flying Fender. Version 2.0 is one-size-fits-all, and has a distinctly Gundam Wing inspired design. Like the previous version it’s super lightweight (45g) and attaches with Velcro. It can be rolled up and stored in a number of ways, and retails for $14.99.

Check out www.wohobike.com

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack Review

DSC_1680The Especial Raider backpack was designed for people who don’t just want to ride to work, but who want to log some miles before they punch in. People like the Mission Cycling club, who collaborated with Timbuk2 to design this backpack. The main parameters were that it had to be a lightweight bag that wouldn’t impede your performance on the bike, but it also had to carry all of the essentials. And that includes not only clothes, but shoes, as well.

DSC_1679Timbuk2 really rose to the occasion. The Especial Raider weighs less than one pound thanks to its primarily ripstop nylon construction. It features ventilated padding on the back and shoulder straps, but not so much that it feels bulky. The shoulder straps are adjustable, and so is the sternum strap (it can slide up and down so you can adjust the height). On the outside the bag features one zippered pocket across the top and two stretch pockets on the hips. There’s a blinky light tab and a hook and loop tab to hang your helmet on once the ride is over.

DSC_1673Inside the bag, things get much more interesting. Though the bag has a rather trim profile (roughly 10 x 18 inches) it offers more than 1000 cubic inches of carrying capacity. The bag has two internal shoe compartments that basically keep the bottom half of each shoe in place. Then there is the back panel pocket, which includes a plastic folding board and a hook and loop strap. This system allows you to fold your clothes and keep them neatly pressed against your back. Finally, the bag has a built in metal hanging hook that allows you to conveniently suspend the bag while you change.

DSC_1670As someone who works a 9 to 5 and has to adhere to a business casual dress code, I truly appreciate this bag. Even when I’m not heading to work, I like the light weight and functionality of the bag. And I like the way it looks, it’s clean, simple and black (though there are now new color options). The bag fits me quite well, and unlike a lot of commuter specific bags, it’s quite appropriate for off-road riding, too.

IMG_3371My only real nits to pick with the bag largely revolve around wishes, not truly complaints. First, I wish the bag were more water resistant. I mitigated this by riding around with an extra-large Ziplock bag for my phone, wallet and other valuables that aren’t waterproof. I wish they had provided a convenient way to deal with the excess straps (I took care of this with rubber bands). And I wish the exterior pocket was a little deeper because once you unzip it all the way, things have a tendency to fall out.

The Especial Raider backpack retails for $79. Check out www.timbuk2.com

City Reports