Daisy’s Grocery is based in Nagoya, Japan. Izumi Shimasaki bakes a variety of amazing breads, pies and other confections, and makes homemade sandwiches, curry and more. She also delivers by bike, though with the recent welcoming of their second child, it may very well be her husband Izuru who delivers.
The Daisy Energy Bar is made from real nuts and grains, with obvious attention to detail. It looks delicious and it is. And you can tell it’s healthy, not only because the label says so, but because it’s not overly sweet. And it’s not overly processed like many energy bars—you can taste the various individual ingredients.
It’s a certain lifestyle or business that necessitates a cargo bike, where carrying around more than most would consider possible by bicycle is commonplace, and not something usual racks and bags can handle. Front loading cargo bikes are the next logical step from a large front basket, with delivery bikes featuring welded-in frame-mounted racks popular throughout the first half of the 20th century. The Schwinn Cycle Truck produced from 1939-1967 defined the short wheelbase, small front wheel cargo bike, with the Soma Tradesman being a modern take on the classic arrangement.
Cargo bikes are many times limited by their very carrying capacity — many urban dwellings just can’t handle a long wheelbase bike for one reason or another. The basic design of the Tradesman with mismatched 20” front and 26” rear wheels moves the cargo lower for stability while maintaining a close to mountain bike length 1115 mm wheelbase. The welded-in rack doesn’t flop around like fork mounted racks do. The stock 14.5” x 20” rack is plenty large, but narrower than the bars. You can get this bike up porch stairs and through doorways with just a bit more effort than any other 37 lb bicycle, making it a viable cargo bike for tight urban housing.
The chromoly steel Tradesman has disc brake mounts front and rear and fits a “standard” mountain drivetrain (no provisions for internal gears or single speeds), with my review bike setup with Avid BB7s and a SRAM 3×7 setup. Rack and fender eyelets on the frame and fork maximize your weather and cargo capabilities, and a welded in kickstand plate means a fancy double-legged kickstand will hold the bike very securely. The tabs for the front rack are sturdy, and easy as any to fit to a custom cargo container. Perhaps the only finishing touches I’d add would be tabs for a chaincase and custom toptube sign. The one size fits most frame seems to work for people in the mid-five-foot to just over six-foot range, as long as one can clear the 30.5” standover requirement. A definite plus for multiple-rider households.
The Tradesman more or less handles like a regular bike thanks to the steering geometry. Rather than a sluggish turning long wheelbase cargo bike, you can carve through traffic and narrow sidewalks much the same as more regulation bicycles. The rack being welded to the frame keeps the weight from shifting back and forth with every steering motion, keep the load centered and the front wheel steering underneath the rack rather than with it. The rack is supported by a pair of tubes that start at the seattube and extend past the headtube, providing a solid platform for carrying.
One quirk of the handling is that I experienced front wheel shimmy no matter the load. Even with the rack unloaded riding no-hands wasn’t possible for long as the bars oscillated out of control. Put 75 lbs of cargo on the front and the bike is nearly unrideable as the wheel fights back and forth—that was a harrowing ride back from the big box store. The handling is likely a consequence of load being relatively high (even with the small front wheel it sits 24” off the ground) and cantilevered over the front wheel. All great for some aspects of handling, but any flex or instability in the system is felt through the path of least resistance, the handlebars. This might be the problem bicycle steering damper solutions were looking for. Keep your loads manageable and your hands on the bars.
The Tradesman excels at bulky (if not overly heavy) loads, with a large Wald delivery basket up front I was able to load up with most anything I could imagine carrying home on two wheels. Groceries, packages, copy boxes, party supplies, my backpack – it’s handy to have a cargo bike around. Throw it in and go. The bike is well balanced, enough that the bike doesn’t want to tip forward when being loaded, or when hitting a curb cut when riding. Riding the Tradesman around town opened up a new realm of what was possible to bring home without a car, helping to minimize my auto use. Quell the steering shimmy and I’d be a full convert to the cycle truck way for anything aside from construction runs.
The Tradesman is available as a frameset in either black or sparkle orange (including front rack) for $700, with a complete build as pictured estimated at $1400. www.somafab.com
Frame bags are cool again. The basic form has always made sense, even if fashion concerns and the buying trends that go with them kept them from the public eye in recent memory. Back in the day it was high fashion to sport a triangle bag on your mountain bike, and now with long distance gravel and endurance riding seeing a surge of interest frame bags have found new popularity.
Banjo Brothers Frame Packs are available in two sizes, small and medium, to fit most conventional diamond frames, with long straps that can wrap around tubes up to 3″ in diameter. The main pocket has access via a full length zipper on the drive side, with a flat zippered pocket on the non-drive for a wallat or cell phone with an interior key lanyard. The Banjo Brothers frame packs were introduced to the market over a year ago, and I’ve been using a pair of them since on all day rides, on my mountain bike and on overnight trips to help carry the load.
Moving cargo weight from your body to the bike makes more and more sense the longer the ride, and once on the bike frame packs can help expand capacity or move weight to a more central position. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I’ve found that I prefer the feel of a bike with the weight centered and below the top tube as opposed to in a handlebar or seat bag. That said, pair a seat or bar bag with the medium frame bag and with some careful packing you should have enough cargo space for some serious adventure.
Mounting the bag couldn’t be easier, though you’ll likely have to trim the straps if you have anything but the fattest tubed bike out there. The downtube strap prevents the bag from swaying and the latch helps to hold it tight and secure, but I wish the latch was on the bag itself as I’ve found that it can interfere with downtube cables. I’m a fan of carrying a full length frame pump on really long days, and the straps of the Banjo Brothers frame packs are enough to wrap around and hold a frame pump in between it and the bag. Reflective piping never hurts, and if nothing but the sound of tires on pavement is your idea of zen you’ll appreciate the no-rattle zipper pull cover.
In terms of real-world capacity I’m able to fit a couple of tubes, patch kit, multi-tool, medium hand pump and an energy bar in the small bag. Pack carefully and I can fit all of the above, a more substantial snack and a compact rain shell or vest in the medium sized bag. Banjo Brothers says that the medium frame pack will fit a 70 oz hydration bladder, potentially useful for your next RAAM attempt. In my experience the bag is pretty water resistant, nothing I had inside ever got soaked, but not completely waterproof for electronics in a storm.
The Banjo Brothers frame bags require roughly 15″ of space on the underside of the downtube to fit lengthwise, and fit best on conventionally shaped road and cyclocross frames. With care you can avoid most cable interference issues, though with some small and medium sized frames the frame packs may block water bottle access. For most riding I choose the small size, but the medium is what I’d go for to maximize capacity for all-day epics and overnight trips. After a year of use I find them an important part of the bag collection. The bags are available for less than $35 each at your local shop or direct from Banjo Brothers.
Bern has been a mainstay in the urban cycling scene for some time now, and they’ve been successful in the skate, snow and watersports markets, as well. So it only makes sense that they would eventually branch out within the bike world. The Morrison is their first mountain bike specific model. Essentially the same as the new Allston, the Morrison is designed to be lighter and more ventilated than previous models.
Bern’s signature Zip Mold Plus construction pairs a PVC shell with liquid injected polyurethane foam, as well as six nylon ribs molded into the foam. Their latest design allowed them to shave some weight off without sacrificing strength (it meets ASTM F 2040, CPSC and EN 1078 standards).
The Morrison features a removable rubberized visor and comes in a variety of color schemes. Touches like contrasting or color-coordinated chin straps show Bern’s commitment to aesthetics as well as safety. After all, a good looking helmet encourages people want to wear one.
I’ve always had good luck with the fit of Bern helmets, but they’ve switched up their sizing for the coming season. I started with a L/XL Morrison, which felt great on the showroom floor but proved to be a bit too tight in the for/aft dimensions (side to side it was OK). I wound up needing the largest of the three sizes, XXL-XXXL. The dial at the back of the helmet doesn’t seem to offer as much adjustment as I might like, but since I have a pretty big head, I don’t need to snug the helmet down very much. It’s kind of interesting that the chin strap does not adjust at the ear junction, yet it doesn’t seem to negatively effect the fit.
The construction quality is top notch, and I especially like how the main part of the helmet liner connects via snaps, not just little tabs of Velcro.
The Morrison will begin shipping in Spring 2014 and retails for $99. Check out www.bernunlimited.com
For those who need a really bright headlight—I mean a really bright headlight—I call your attention to the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race. Designed for mountain bike racing, there are legitimately times when I’ve felt the need for a truly high-powered light with a long burn time. For example, a long time ago I used to work 10 miles out of the city, and the last 5 miles took me up a windy country road with few streetlights and lots of fast moving pickup trucks. Not only was riding home dangerous because traffic might not see me, but the long downhill stretches allowed me to cruise at the legal speed limit. And at high speeds, more light is always better.
There are also people who just want to feel a little more powerful when they’re out there mixing it up with cars in the city at night. I assure you, you’ll be seen with 1800 lumens. I’ve actually had a lot more cars yield the right of way when I use super bright headlights, perhaps because they assume I’m on a motorcycle.
The package includes everything you would expect, including quick-release bar and helmet mounts. The helmet mount does allow for the slightest amount of jiggle, but the bar mount is rock solid. It also allows for an incredible amount of adjustment, so even if your bars have a lot of sweep or you have to mount the light on the tapered portion, you can still make the lamp point straight ahead.
At 1200 lumens you can expect to get about 1 hour and 30 minutes of run time. At 700 lumens you should get 3 hours, 400 lumens yields 4 hours, 200 lumens 12 hours, and 80 lumens 25 hours. It takes about five hours to fully charge the four cell Lithium Ion battery. Apparently a battery this powerful requires a real charger, thus it’s not USB rechargeable.
I do enjoy using the Pro 1800 Race for its intended purpose—nighttime mountain biking. While I had been quite content riding with my various high-powered commuter lights, I really couldn’t be happier now.
One last thing to mention is that the light unit has a really simple eight-step battery gauge. As long as it’s bar-mounted, you can always see how much power you have left.
The Pro 1800 Race weighs 484 g and retails for $350. Check out www.niterider.com