Urban Velo

Superb Bicycle Overland Prototype

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This is my kind of bicycle. The widespread epiphany that big tires are comfortable and can take you to awesome places on a “road” bicycle has led to a number of choices in the realm of versatile frames built for real world riding rather than pure racing. Superb Bicycle just posted a few pictures of their latest efforts, the Overland. Build it with flat bars and racks for commuting and city riding, or drop bars for gravel and cyclocross endeavors. Clearance for up to 40 mm tires gives you more cushion for the pushin’, steel tubes keep it real. The prototype is 4130 steel, but Superb is threatening to make it out of Columbus Zona for that much better, and lighter, of a ride. Check out that flat crown and hooded dropouts (with replaceable hanger!). Good stuff. See more at www.superbbicycle.com

Meet the Blackburn Rangers

Meet the Blackburn Rangers, headed on the road for 2014 to use and abuse the latest equipment for months long real-life testing that the lab can’t emulate. Most of us live in cities, and most of us want to get out for an extended road trip now and again. Even if your trip is only a few hours, you might be happy that one of these people made sure that pump or pannier is good for the journey. Watch and catch some views from the Great Divide and Pacific Coast Highway routes. “Get out there.”

Surly Straggler 650b

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Last year Surly released the Straggler upon the world, basically a disc brake equipped version of the venerable Crosscheck, but different. It’s a great bike, we’ve been riding a pair of them since their introduction with a review of the 700c version slated for Urban Velo #43.

Surly has just announced the Straggler 650b, another different take on more of the same. This isn’t just a spec change, the frame and fork feature different geometry to fit the 650b wheels, a boon for people of shorter stature that have experience toe overlap problems on the 700c Straggler, and for everyone else that is finding the benefits of the ‘tweener wheel size. As the big brains at Surly say, “650b wheels strike a nice balance between the benefits of both 26” and 700c sizes. The smaller wheel allows smaller riders to fit well on smaller frames, produces a stronger wheel, makes fitting big ass tires easier and are more agile than their larger counterparts.”

Halo Vapour Wheels

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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 masked off before the rim is painted, then clear coated.

DSC_1712The rims are tubless compatible though the rim strips and valves not included. The hubs do include an assortment of hardware and adaptors for different mountain bike standards.

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

Felt eBikes Site Now Live

felt-lebowskeFelt Electric, the eBike wing of their company, is now live. The Felt Electric line currently hosts 5 models consisting of a fat bike, full-suspension mountain bike, aggressive mountain/city racer, and a commuter model which includes a step-through frame version.

In addition to the new site, they will be introducing their 2015 models next week. The electric line allows the rider to achieve nearly 300% power assist if they so choose, or two other levels for more manual operation.

Rear Facing Camera Catches Driver (Deliberately?) Hit Cyclist

This one is hard to watch. Earlier this week a rider in Bullard Texas cycling on a very wide shoulder to the right of the white line was seemingly deliberately hit by a passing pickup truck. The Ford F150 pickup driven by 52-year-old Samuel Vercher clearly veers towards the cyclist as it approaches. Maybe it isn’t malice and the driver just can’t keep his giant truck in his lane and should be disqualified from driving, but I wouldn’t give this guy that much credit from my look at the video. It only takes one asshole using their vehicle as a weapon to change your family forever.

Read the local coverage of the incident at the Tyler Morning Telegraph that identifies the driver and has this quote from the Bullard Police Chief Gary Don Lewis, “We don’t know how close to the line the cyclist was traveling, but I must make it clear that the bike was not struck, it was the vehicle’s mirror that struck the cyclist. He (Vercher) was very upset that he hit the cyclist he says he never saw.”

I’d be willing to bet that nothing comes of this after the police wrap up their investigation, as the driver is using the old “I didn’t see him” excuse, which in my experience gives drivers the freedom to run over anyone they want without fear of repercussions.

Read our feature story HD Witness in Urban Velo #40 about the growing number of people using cameras to document malicious and inattentive drivers.

Bicycle Family Tree


Not only would the research for this “Bicycle Family Tree” be quite time consuming, but the designers at Wyatt 9 also illustrated the entire poster…each bicycle. That’s impressive. Kickstarters are purchasing a copy of the final print in various sizes, and greater contributions get a t-shirt, name inscription and a vote for the three absent bikes in the piece. Well done Wyatt 9.

See more of their bicycle themed prints and shirts here.

Fyxation Open Fixed Geared Criterium

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Move over alleycat, track criteriums have taken over, and the next chance to race track bikes around hairpins is at the Fyxation Open in Chicago on July 26. Men’s and women’s races will take place in downtown Chicago as a part of the Intelligensia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series.

“Back in the day, fixed gear road racing was a bike racing staple with classic events like the 50 mile Elgin to Chicago race,” said Intelligentsia Cup co-founder and former U.S. professional criterium champion Tom Schuler. “We are excited to host this high-energy form of bike racing, once again reminding us that everything old is new again.”

The fixed gear races will be held on the same course as the Chicago Criterium and is open to all classes; equipment check will be required on the day of the race. Standard rules apply: track bikes with drop bars and no freewheel or brakes. Cash, prizes and race primes from Fyxation, All City Cycles, Chrome, Nutcase and Abus.

Distance Over Time


A short film about cyclist, James Golding, who attempted to ride the 7 Day Distance Challenge in France after surviving his first bout of cancer, only to be diagnosed again in 2011.

In the film, we learn about the things that drive James forward, how he overcomes the challenges in his life and what goes through his mind as he attempts to cycle over 220 miles per day. The message is clear; with the right mindset and determination a person is capable of incredible things.

London Share The Road PSA


I love this. It’s a Transport For London PSA that addresses road rage by all users (cyclists included), but seems to go beyond faulting poor transport habits and touches something deeper, maybe something more human. In the end it calls for a sense of calm, as if the problems we face on the road are unavoidable and maybe we need a new approach to their management. It’s a little pie-in-the-sky thinking, but a suitable reminder regardless.

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