Urban Velo

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

Worksman Cycles Gallery

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Housed in a former candle factory in Queens, New York is one of America’s oldest manufacturing traditions. Worksman Cycles is a 116-year-old, family-owned bicycle maker producing machines first designed in the 1930s and whose best-selling model, says Worksman spokesman Bruce Weinreb, is not a carbon-fiber road bike but a steel tricycle designed for carrying 500-pound loads across factory floors.

From the rugged-looking building to the decades-old machines used for bending and crimping the steel tubes for the bikes, every part of the company’s business model seems to be philosophically in line with the bicycles they produce: low maintenance, no frills, and designed to last forever. For more than a century, Worksman has survived by focusing on the niche market of manufacturers needing industrial bikes to carry people and equipment on their factory floors, and Worksman show few signs of changing.

The company itself began in 1898 in a lower Manhattan store run by Morris Worksman. Worksman started out selling Columbia bikes, says Weinreb, but began selling his own design that was purpose-built for workers carrying heavy loads around the city. Worksman’s 1915 patent shows designs for a tricycle with a removable back box.


Read the rest of our feature article on Worksman Cycles in Urban Velo #42 written by Adam Kroopnick and check out an extended gallery of images from the inside of the factory by Takuya Sakamoto.

Wolfpack Civic Center Crit Racer Profile:
Sean “Young Blood” McElroy

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Photo by Warren Kommers

Sean McElroy had only known about the Civic Center Crit for a week, maybe two, before coming to claim the dog tags in the men’s road category in 2013. None of L.A.’s local bike racers had seen him before, and none of them had any idea that their biggest competition that day would be a 14-year-old from Palmdale.

“It was really last minute, to be honest,” said McElroy, who had found out about the race from his friend and mentor, Rich Bartlett. “He told me it was going to be a pretty big turnout, and it was in L.A., so I just decided to go do it.”

The young cyclist may have been a last-minute entry, but he was prepared nonetheless: With three years of road racing under his belt, McElroy was already gearing up for the Junior National Road Racing Championships that would be held just a week and a half later.

“I was definitely fit, but I didn’t really come expecting to win the race,” he said of the fateful day he joined the elite ranks of dog tag holders on 2013—Jo Celso, Willo Juarez, Kathryn Donovan, Veronica Volok, Craig Streit, Evan Stade, Walton Brush, Nate Koch, Shelby Walter—and Sean McElroy, the youngest among them by nearly a decade.

And while there was much surprise to see a 14-year-old even entering the race, his performance is ultimately what blew everyone away. With Barlett in the race with him, the two were able to work the peloton and split the field.

“Rich told me that there’s going to be people just going off the front, and the guy that went, Jon [Budinoff], was right in front of me so I was on his wheel, so when he went I just went with him, not really with the intention of getting a break,” he says. “As soon as we saw the gap, I just started working; when people tried to close the gap Rich would chase them down and slow down the pace of it. He really helped me to win, it was really just a real team thing. Read more →

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.

Issue #42 – Available Online

Erok with the VAYA bagContents Include: Utilitarian Bicycles in China, City Report: Washington DC, Gallery: SF Courier Portraits, Redhook Crit Women’s Race, World Naked Bike Ride. Product Spotlight: Marin, SRAM, Detroit Cargo, Abbey Bike Tools, Product Reviews: Fuji, Knog, Hiplok, Vaya and more, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Worksman Cycles, Know Your Derailleur Limits, No Exit, and The Almanzo 100.

Download it for free, purchase it from the Apple Store or order a printed copy online.

City Report – Washington DC

Washington DC
By Michelle Cleveland

Photos by Kevin Dillard – www.demoncats.com

City: Washington, DC

Nickname: DC, the Nation’s Capitol, Dead City

Claim to Fame: You’ve got Obama’s House, a bunch of suits walking around Capitol Hill, Ben’s Chili Bowl, cherry blossoms, mumbo sauces, and of course chicken and waffles.

History in 100 Words or Less: The US capital was originally located in Philadelphia. But in 1790, a new location between Maryland and Virginia along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers was chosen by George Washington and DC was officially established as the nation’s capital. The city was designed by a Frenchman to appear reminiscent of Paris. Most of the city burnt to the ground during the War of 1812. In 1963, MLK, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.31 AMRandom Fact: When John Denver was playing a two-week gig in 1970 at a venue long gone called The Cellar Door in DC, two fellow musicians told him about song they were working on while driving through winding roads of Maryland. When Denver heard what was to become “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” he just had to have it, even though it was meant for Johnny Cash. Now, Denver’s iconic folk song is a symbol of mountains and West Virginia, even though it started here in DC.

City’s Terrain: Mostly a flat city, DC does seem full of one-way streets, diagonal nightmares, and lots of traffic downtown. The small neighborhoods of DC stemming out from downtown are very bikeable, especially on side streets. The city has seen a good amount of bike infrastructure in the past few years, with a beautiful long cycletrack down Pennsylvania Ave., and two additional separated cycletracks downtown. The area east of the River, the Anacostia neighborhoods, have close to zero bike infrastructure and are extremely hilly.

Weather Forecast: We get beautiful springtime and fall weather, perfect for bike riding with Cherry blossoms and fall leaves in Rock Creek Park. But DC feels like a southern city in the summertime with high humidity and grueling heat. The winters are fairly mild and we typically only get a few good snowfalls a year (except for this winter which was record breaking cold).

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.21.02 AMTop Shop(s): DC has so many bike shops and they each offer mechanics and shop owners with different personalities so it’s hard to choose. My personal favorite shop is the Bike Rack because of their laid back and friendly vibe. I’ve always had good service at Revolution Cycles in Georgetown. And the guys and gals that work at CycleLife, Capitol Hill Bikes, CityBikes, and Bicycle Space are all stellar folks.

Best Watering Hole(s): GBD near Dupont is my favorite bar with it’s very good “stiff punch.” American Ice Company serves its beer in mason jars and has Swachos (BBQ pork nachos). Lucky Bar is where the messengers hang out after work, so there’s always someone to talk to and they’ve got cheap beer. The Pug has got hands down the best atmosphere at a bar. And Smoke and Barrel is the best for your craft beer nerds.

Authentic Local Food: Ben’s Chili Bowl with their chili cheese fries and just about any brunch spot with their chicken and waffles. Also mumbo sauce. Not sure what it is, but you can put it on pretty much anything from fries to wings to maybe even waffles.

Must See: The Old Post Office tower. It’s thought to be a tourist attraction so it took me a few years to go up and see the view, but it’s a towering view of the city you’ll never see anywhere else. And a sunset from Meridian Hill Park in the summertime is just beautiful.

Must Ride: Definitely ride down the Pennsylvania Ave. cycletrack at night heading east, with a view of the Capitol dome right in front of you. The Anacostia Riverwalk trail across the river is tree-lined. Rock Creek Park is where roadies ride on the weekends and you feel like you’re not even in a city anymore.

Best Time to Visit: Just not the summertime, or any major holiday. Too many tourists. Come for a DC bike event to see what the city is really like, such as one of our annual alleycats (Dead City for Halloween is my favorite), DC’s Eastside Thaw polo tourney in March or a monthly DC Bike Party ride.

Need For Speed: DC’s probably always had bike messengers, and a lot of the ones we still have today have been at it for years. There’s at least half a dozen alley cats per year, hosted by local couriers or bike kids, with the number growing. One of the favorites is the Presidential Inaugural alley cat—no other city can do that. DC also hosts one epic cyclocross race each year, DCCX, on a golf course at the Old Soldiers Home, which also houses President Lincoln’s Cottage.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 12.19.36 AMTwo Wheeled Celebrities: Older couriers like Scrooge and Bruce—everyone knows them. They’re legends. Lia who started and runs DC Bike Party somehow got 500 or so folks out on their bikes each month. And very recently, the Chocolate City Cycling crew.

Top Tourist Attraction(s): It’s DC, so of course anything that has to do with the president, Congress, and the Smithsonian. Walk along the National Mall, take your photo in front of the White House, and stand at the feet of Lincoln at his memorial.

Advocacy: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, DC’s only bike advocacy non-profit, has been around since 1972. Over the years they have won major victories like getting the Capital Crescent Trail (an 11-mile rail trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring, MD), Beach Drive (a beautiful winding forested road in middle of the city) closed to motorists on weekends, and bike access on public transit. WABA launched an innovative workshop program, Women & Bicycles, to get more ladies on bikes. They host bike rides and social events throughout the year, monitor local trails through the Trail Rangers program, and do friendly outreach in the bike lanes with the Bike Ambassador program.

Locals Only: For those with cross bikes, Kingman Island in the Potomac is a secret and awesome spot to get some gravel and cross action in. And if you want to practice sprinting or work on your pace line skills, meet up with a group at Haines Point to do almost car-free laps. If you’re really legit, apparently there’s a superfast pace line at noon everyday called the Power Hour.

Check out www.waba.org

NAHBS 2014 Image Gallery

Behold all of our 2014 NAHBS bike images in one place for easy gallery viewing. This was our seventh year at the show, check www.urbanvelo.org/nahbs for images going back to 2008.

Getting Rad at Shopbike Shootout

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When there is a party in the back alley of One on One Bicycle Studio, it is not to be missed. Over the years 115 N Washington St has become the hub of Minneapolis bike culture and beyond. I first met Gene and his right hand man Hurl as a teenager, and it was an eye opening experience that I look back on as one part of making it all click together for me. An early 2007 visit to One on One is truly what set the wheels in motion to making Urban Velo happen — we owe much of our inspiration to interactions with Gene Oberpriller over the years.

Last weekend was the the first Shopbike Shootout held in the alley behind One on One and Handsome Cycles. Put on by the big brains at Chrome, it was a cold weather party and short track race on the icy pavement. Think barrel fires, sidehack BMX bikes and brakeless freewheel bikes. Rip it over the snow bank and around the short course, winner takes all. The party ran late, the riding was treacherous, and Gene pulled off a wallride as his 53rd birthday approached. Good times as always in the alleyway, with images all that remain.

City Reports Wanted

Urban Velo city-report

Urban Velo’s new City Report will be an ongoing, reader-contributed segment that highlights cities around the world. We’ve prepared one on our own hometown of Pittsburgh, as an example of what we hope you’ll share with other readers.

Visit urbanvelo.org/contribute/city-report

City Report – Pittsburgh

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The following is a new reader-submitted feature we are piloting. We crafted the first one as a model for future contributions, so share yours! Click here to submit your own.

City: Pittsburgh

Nickname: The Steel City, the Iron City, or the City of Three Rivers.

Claim to Fame: Pittsburgh is home to the six-time Superbowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s a drinking town with a sports problem, or vice versa.
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History in 100 Words (or less): Pittsburgh began as a fort during the Seven Years’ War between the French and British. The British won, and Fort Pitt became a city, which in turn became famous for the production of iron, then steel, then the development of aluminum. Pittsburgh played a significant role in the development of nuclear power, and today stands as one of the world’s foremost medical and technological centers. It’s also a big time food city, owing to an early influx of eastern European immigrants, followed by the more recent proliferation of Asian cuisine.

Random Fact: Mr. Rogers is from Pittsburgh. His neighborhood is a fictitious amalgamation of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, but the show featured a who’s who of Pittsburgh citizens, including regular appearances by storied jazz musician Joe Negri as Handyman Negri.

City’s Terrain: Pittsburgh is hilly with narrow streets and lots of bridges. As part of the Rust Belt, road maintenance takes a backseat to other public interests, but bike lanes continue to pop up as the economy continues to rely more on the education, technology and medical fields. As a relatively small city, Pittsburgh is very “bikeable” as long as you’re either young, strong, or you stick to the bike lanes and the bike paths which are flat and run along the rivers.

Weather Forecast: Pittsburgh sees the best and worst of all four seasons, but the climate is generally pretty mild. Expect snow and ice in the winter, and hot, humid summers, but it’s seldom as extreme as the conditions in cities like Minneapolis or Tucson.

Top Shop(s): Hands down, the most famous shop in Pittsburgh is Kraynick’s. The top two shops for urban cyclists are Thick Bikes and Iron City Bikes. But Pittsburgh has more than a dozen individual shops, several of which have numerous locations, such as Trek of Pittsburgh.

Best Watering Hole(s): In this writer’s opinion, Kelly’s Bar & Lounge is the finest dive bar in Pittsburgh, but we would be remiss to overlook Over The Bar Bicycle Café, which now has two locations. D’s Six Pax & Dogz, a hotdog shop located right next to the mountain bike trails of Frick Park, is a beer lover’s dream. Also, the Church Brew Works is a stunning repurposing of an old church that now serves craft beer that’s brewed on site.
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Authentic Local Food: It’s hard to talk about Pittsburgh without mentioning Primanti Bros., home to the greasiest, messiest, most delicious sandwich in America. You don’t get fries with it, you get fries on it. As well as cole slaw and cheese. French fries and provolone cheese are common toppings for salads in Pittsburgh, and if you order a fried fish sandwich, be prepared for the filet to extend way beyond the bun.

Best Coffee Shop(s): Pittsburgh has numerous high-quality coffee shops, but the most notable is Tazza d’Oro, who sponsors weekly group rides dubbed Team Caffeine and Team Decaf. There are also several local coffee roasters, including Prestogeorge in the Strip District.

Must See: The Pittsburgh skyline is beautiful, and the city plays host to a number of cultural attractions including the Andy Warhol Museum and it’s many professional sports complexes. There’s also a bicycle museum just a stone’s throw from the casino.

Must Ride: If you only have an hour or two, you’ll want to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s most famous bike path, locally known as The Jail Trail. It runs from downtown to Oakland, where you’ll climb out of Panther Hollow up to the University of Pittsburgh. Stop and eat some fries at The Dirty O, then head into the East End, or back down and across the river to the Southside for drinks.

Best Time to Visit: The spring and fall are beautiful, but nobody loves fireworks like the residents of Pittsburgh, so come on July 4th and party outside with the locals.
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Need For Speed: Pittsburgh has a rich history of bike racing, including the infamous Dirty Dozen hillclimb race. There are regular crits during the summer, and more mountain bike races than you can shake a stick at, as well as cross races and alleycats. Pittsburgh also has a storied BMX history.

Two Wheeled Celebrities: Pittsburgh’s most notable bike celebrity is known as the Bumper Bike guy. He has several bikes, each with an automobile bumper lashed to the handlebars, making for an unusual but unforgettable sight.

Top Tourist Attraction(s): Sports, sports, sports, sports, sports. The Carnegie Museums are world class, including the aforementioned Andy Warhol Museum. The city hosts numerous gallery crawls, a large annual arts festival, a regatta, and countless theatrical, musical and other cultural events.

Advocacy: Pittsburgh’s advocacy organization, BikePGH has been named the national advocacy organization of the year. With strong support and equally strong leadership, the local non-profit has made big changes in a city that’s deeply rooted in car culture. To date there are nearly 60 miles of bike lanes, and they’re still gaining momentum.

Locals Only: The city has three rivers, and their shores are an excellent place to congregate on warm summer nights. Locals can show you secret party spots, rope swings and more.

Click here to contribute a City Report from your own city!

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