Urban Velo

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.

Philadelphia Pump Track

Pinkbike posted a story on the Philadelphia pump track, “Pumpadelphia”, (and I can’t help but sing, “Flipadelphia!”) which came about by the impetus of the Philadelphia Mountain Bike Association, which is pretty awesome considering most mountain bikers aren’t engaged with inner city youth, or even inner city riding. But the coalition between the PMBA, corporate sponsors, city departments, various individuals and, most importantly, the kids themselves, turned this piece of public land into a maze of adrenaline-inducing turns and jumps.

Now, to convince them for the need of a pumptrack in my backyard.

pumptrack

“You’ll notice that I put the beginner track higher up in the park than anything else.” Jim says. “That’s because in my books, the children are what is going to keep our sport and culture alive going forward. When they ask “why are we higher than the big track?” I tell them that they are more valuable. They are the most important. We share our property with the kids and give them highest ground.” The kids are the centerpiece of this effort and the kids responded well. Saturdays were dig days and it was common to see 40+ kids at the site ready to get busy with brooms, shovels and anything else they could use to move and shape dirt. Power Corps PHL sent dozens of volunteers to the site as well. The program provides environmental stewardship initiatives as well as the City of Philadelphia’s youth workforce development and violence prevention priorities. Many of the Power Corps volunteers were locals and are itching to get on bike after lending a hand at the track.

Jacob’s Ride Hits A Grand Slam For Hearing

jacob-in-camden-yards-alleyYYY Jacob Landis rode 10,666 miles and had hit almost every stadium in the country by the time he reached Polk County, Florida last September. With 180 miles left to reach the last one, Marlins Park in Miami, he was struck by a semi truck that kept on driving. The accident took him off the road, bringing his tour to a grinding halt. But it didn’t end his mission. This weekend, he’ll finish Jacob’s Ride, his cross-country tour to help others overcome hearing loss in the same way he has.

“Without the [cochlear] implant I couldn’t talk to you,” he tells me. Landis was 10 when he heard his brother’s voice for the first time, or anyone’s for that matter. He had just received one of the first cochlear implants. A decade later, Landis would have another life-changing experience when he visited his brother in Los Angeles.

“Noah didn’t have a car then and he gave me his road bike,” says Landis, who rode bikes as a child but, like many people, left them behind with the playthings of childhood. “He took me on one of those group rides – Taco Tuesday – I just had so much fun riding a road bike for the first time that when I got back to Annapolis even though it was so cold I went out and got my own single speed. Then I got a $500 Jamis and I started putting a lot more miles on.”

jacob-with-hearing-impaired-kids-at-Northern-VoicesAfter fifteen years with his cochlear, Landis is making the same come true for others, and he’s doing it with his bike. Last year, he raised more than $160,000 to help others who cannot afford the implant. Supporting established nonprofit organizations such as the Gift of Hearing Foundation and the Hearing Loss Association of America, the donations have helped fund implants, which can cost from $50,000 to $100,000, for five people. The first went to a 24 year-old male, same age as Landis (at the time of the procedure).

By working with Major League Baseball teams, Jacob’s Ride has been able to raise awareness and support for cochlear implants at each stadium. 500,000 Americans suffer from severe hearing loss, but only 7 percent have benefited from cochlear implants. Unlike a conventional hearing aid, which amplifies sound, a cochlear implant sends electrical impulses to the the auditory nerve, bypassing damaged parts of the inner hear. Contribute to Jacob’s Ride and learn more about cochlear implants at www.JacobsRide.com.

Epecuen – Danny MacAskill

epecuenRed Bull threw up the new Danny MacAskill film, Epecuen, on their site yesterday. Set in a village in Argentina that has been submerged underwater for the past 25 years, MacAskill turns this wasteland into a playground. Equal parts beautiful and devastating, the setting is outshined only by MacAskill’s expected jaw-dropping feats of balance and ingenuity on the bike. Keep ‘em coming Danny.

Rest in Peace, Fast Boy

It’s with great sadness that we report that Ezra Caldwell has passed away. Known to many for his prodigious photography, to some as a skilled woodworker, to others as a creative bicycle framebuilder, and to many as a friend and an inspiration, Ezra battled cancer like few ever will, in full view of the public and with neither an apology nor a request for sympathy.

We at Urban Velo are forever grateful for Ezra’s contributions, for his friendship and for the encouragement he gave us. To his wife, Hillary, as well as his friends and family we extend our most heartfelt condolences.

Rest in peace, Fast Boy. Rest in peace.

Snapguide Spring Bike Hack Contest

560x300 Snapguide is a member generated DIY how-to site, and they are sponsoring a Bike Hack contest through June 4th. None of the entries so far are mindblowing in my opinion, though I never tire of seeing retro-direct drivetrains, perhaps you have something on your bike that can carry the contest. Write up your best home hack and enter to win a bunch of stuff from Portland Design Works and Walnut Studiolo at www.snapguide.com.

Biking Through!

golf bikesI don’t trust a sport sedentary people can play. As an admitted golfer since the age of 9, golf is one of them. This issue is in no way helped by the general mode of getting from tee box to ball to green, by way of a golf cart. Sure, you could walk and carry your bags, but most golfers choose the luxury (and fun) of blasting around the course in a souped up bumper car for adults. Well, if you want a little bit of that mobility fun, coupled with a touch of exercise, you can have the best of both worlds in Scottsdale, Arizona where one course has outfitted it’s fleet with golf bikes. Each bike has a rack for bags that hold 14 clubs and wider tires to prevent course damage.

I love this idea, and wouldn’t be surprised if some users came to their senses and ditched the greens for the trails and took up mountain biking instead. I kid, I kid.

Via Golf Digest

Bikes and Balls

atlanticSorry…couldn’t resist. This article, from the Atlantic Online, is a response piece about femininity and cycling, where the author asked for submissions regarding cycling and masculinity, how they intersect and attitudes towards male cyclists. The responses are quite interesting and pretty amusing as well. A select few are pasted below. Read them all in the link above.

‘Are you aware that it’s common to try to insult men cycling in spandex by calling them gay?’ –
— DaveS, @darsal, on Twitter

‘One thing: When I ride a bike, I feel like I need to catch the person in front of me. Competition is in the background. Always. Not crazy competitive. But a sort of …. goal!’
— Clarence Eckerson, Streetfilms

As for Lycra… no comment.’
— Noel Hidalgo, Brooklyn, New York

‘For me, cycling=self-sufficiency, which is about as traditionally “masculine” a concept as there is in this country.’
— Sam Berkowitz, @SKBerko, on Twitter

Corey’s Stories — The Cheesesteak

I was born in a hospital a short distance from the original Tastykake bakery in Philadelphia. The varieties of yummy cakes, pies and other baked dessert treats is inferior to none. The other great culinary treat for which my hometown is better known, regionally and abroad, is the cheesesteak.

Fast forward beyond many gluttonous years, I currently reside in New York. New York is home to many great sports teams and the Mets. New York while geographically close to Philly, is unable, like many others, to accurately duplicate the greasy meat sandwich loved by so many.

corey_cheesesteak-1I, being hungrily homesick for regional cuisine recently, decided to ride a double century in a quest to eat a genuine cheesesteak. If the word “Philadelphia” is on the menu in front of cheesesteak, it will probably fall short of my discerning standards.

The ride to the land of cheesesteaks and Tastykakes is approximately 100 miles between NYC and Philly. I wanted to do the ride down, eat with a few friends and ride back in one day. A friend in New York asked if I would take the bus or train back after eating my sandwich. I gave him a stern look, “no,” because that would involve a whole lot of boring.

I began my quest at the reasonable hour of 7 am. The ride entailed cruising along office parks, refineries and strip malls situated among newly blooming trees. The scent of spring was a delight after leaving the concrete jungle of NYC. The sight of man made sprawl, not so much. Being near race season, the ride also consisted of settling into churning the big ring.

I arrived midday, perfect for lunch. There are several really good places to get a cheesesteak in Philly. You’ll have to go yourself to find them. But as it was Philly, the standard is higher at every local eatery than one can find anywhere else. I got my sandwich with bacon because everything really is better with bacon. I took my sandwich, fries and drink to the park near Independence mall, home of the Liberty Bell and the US Constitution. It was a beautiful sunny day. I sat in the shade of a large tree.

While eating I noticed I was covered in salt after several hours of riding. I felt slightly nervous about the return trip as bonking in New Jersey wasn’t a part of my plan. Riding slowly was not an option either because I did not bring lights and needed to be home before sundown.

I finished my meal and began the second of the day’s centuries as the bells bonged 2 o’clock near Independence Hall. It was odd rolling back through neighborhoods and landmarks I longed to see so soon after arriving.

There were a few times during the trip where motorists drifted close to me. The worst was outside of Philly where a man driving a clunker narrowly missed hitting me. A few hundred yards up the road he sloppily tried to make a right turn. His speed and steering weren’t aligned for the task. He drove into someone’s fence. He corrected himself after I passed. He drove away along the side road. I was too surprised by the chain of events to think of getting his license plate number. I hope the next time I see motor vehicle chaos I can think faster, but then I don’t want to have a “next time” close call.

As I continued to ride the wind became an issue. The gentle spring breeze on the way down became a cross headwind during the return. The giant glob of greasy meat in my stomach didn’t make the task easier. Pushing up inclines, the sensation of vomiting told me to back off the pace a bit. The sun began to drop from its earlier zenith.

I made it home safely by 8 pm. When I finally stopped, I burped. The queasy feeling had passed because I metabolized all of the calories from lunch. The only thing left to do was shower. Sleep followed immediately afterward. I had to wake up for work as a bike messenger the next day.

Strava-Sourced Data

stravaAnd you thought Strava was just arrogant bragging rights for those too scared to enter a real race. According to this article published on The Telegraph, Strava is now selling huge chunks of it’s route data to companies looking to make cycling safer. The data will likely be used to implement bicycle amenities along heavily trafficked routes. I remember attending planning meetings in early 2000 where large maps were tacked to the wall and cyclists were given highlighters to mark routes they rode and where they thought bicycle lanes were needed. This is the same concept, but much more extensive and infinitely more reality-based.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a defiant mocker of Strava, for no good reason except to rile up my friends, but I can fully get behind this. It should be noted that Strava plans to sell chunks of data that have been completely stripped of their personal information, in hopes to alleviate privacy concerns.

“Millions of GPS-tracked activities are uploaded to Strava every week from around the globe. In denser metro areas, nearly one-half of these are commutes. These activities create billions of data points that, when aggregated, enable deep analysis and understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences,” claims the Strava website.

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