- February 28, 2014
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..
- February 19, 2014
Urban Velo’s new City Report will be an ongoing, reader-contributed segment that highlights cities around the world. We’ve..
- February 17, 2014
The following is a new reader-submitted feature we are piloting. We crafted the first one as a model for future contributions. Click here..
- February 3, 2014
Carl Schlemowitz founded Vicious Cycles in 1994, and has been building custom steel frames in picturesque upstate New York ever since. Like..
- January 27, 2014
Via Bicycle and proprietor Curtis Anthony are Philadelphia cycling fixtures. There’s no telling how many used bikes of all vintage have..
Carl Schlemowitz founded Vicious Cycles in 1994, and has been building custom steel frames in picturesque upstate New York ever since. Like so many many other framebuilders in the northeast Carl’s first inspiration to build came from Fat City Cycles, in his case it was spending the mid-eighties atop an early Fat Chance mountain bike. Vicious Cycles is primarily a mountain bike brand, and mountain bikes are how I first met Carl back in the early 2000s, with path’s crossing through mutual friends and tradeshows since. Having regrettably missed the pigroast invites of years past it was a treat to finally stop into the New Paltz, NY home of Vicious Cycles.
Vicious Cycles was an early 29″ and single speed adopter, making their frames, unicrown forks and signature paintjobs a mainstay of the east coast mountain bike scene. After some twenty years in the business Carl is now opening up the shop to students, offering week-long framebuilding or frame painting classes through his Metal Guru program. Carl works with other guest builders to offer classes and workshops outside of his particular expertise, widening the offerings to those looking for particular facets of continuing education. I’ve heard positive reviews, and seen a great final result, from the Metal Guru program.
Workspaces are as individual as their owners, it’s great to catch a few moments behind the scenes. Learn more about Metal Guru lessons in bicycle manufacturing at metalguru.viciouscycles.com.
If all is going well your tires are the only thing in contact with the ground, the final connection to the road that ultimately determines a good portion of the ride quality and handling characteristics of a bike. Good tires are like fine wine, not always necessary but appreciated by the connoisseur. I’m guilty of running a lot of “box wine” tires, but will admit that I can appreciate the better rubber when I’ve got it on hand. The Panaracer Gravelking is the latest from Panasonic’s tire division, and upon pulling it from the box it was immediately clear that this was a top quality clincher tire with performance in mind. Meant for those bent on taking their road bikes off of the blacktop, the Gravelking is clearly targeting the burgeoning gravel race scene though it should go over well with real-world riders looking for a serious tire with more flat protection than standard road rubber. The tire is light (the pictured 28c version weighs 267 g), the casing supple even if it hides full bead to bead anti-flat protection. A road tire for the way a lot of us choose to ride, without the weight and relatively terrible ride quality of the various urban “flatproof” tires out there. Can’t wait for the weather to break and get a chance for some time on these. Available in March 2014 in 700 x 23, 26 and 28 sizes for about $50 each.
Fixed gear freestyle isn’t as visible as it was just a few years back, but there are still plenty of riders out there getting rad. State Bicycle has long had one of the more affordable FGFS complete bikes out there, with this being the latest incarnation, the $579 Shockwave. We reviewed the similar Massacre from State back in May 2012.
Never thought the day would come to post about clothes hangers, but Velocity has given me reason. These hangers are made from scrap rims that didn’t pass quality control, inspired by poor riding weather and a bit of downtime. Thats a section of a Deep-V rim and a pair of spokes twisted together and held on with spoke nipples for the hook. Available for $8 each, these would look great in a shop store display. Get them while they last, which is about as long as the weather remains terrible in Michigan.
Lights are a vital part of even the sometimes-night rider, let alone the daily commuter or lifestyle rider. The past few years have seen some incredible jumps in lighting technology, ushering in a new era of compact high powered rechargeable units to safely extend your ride time well after dark. The days of questionable be seen button cell powered blinkies are behind us, it’s time to light up the road ahead. Trelock is one of the oldest cycling accessory brands in Germany (the company began in 1854) and the LS 950 is their top of the line commuter headlight.
The Trelock LS 950 is what I would term a super-commuter light, with enough output for riding in complete darkness and battery power for up to 45 hours of riding between recharges. That’s a week’s worth of 2 hour morning and evening commutes without a recharge, in the lowest power mode at least. Trelock sacrifices absolute maximum power and minimum weight for long runtimes, optimizing light output through reflector technology rather than with higher and higher powered LEDs. In much of Western Europe transportation cycling is far more ingrained in the culture than it is in the United States, and Germany is no exception with commuter paths crisscrossing the cities and bicycle specific law in many cases far ahead of our own. One such regulation is the StVZO laws that regulate all lighting used in public traffic, including bicycle lighting. StVZO laws are at the heart of the LS 950 reflector, and that reflector is the basis for the entire light.
The reflector and lens in the LS 950 squeezes the most light possible from the LED inside. Placed next to other lights with 1W LEDs and it can be surprising to find out that the power consumption of each is the same — the LS 950 has a bright beam focussed on the road surface ahead rather than a floodlight effect. The aforementioned StVZO laws require that lights not blind other road users, forcing manufacturers to engineer reflectors that direct light down and onto the roadway rather than straight forward. Imagine cars with bare bulbs rather than headlights focussed on the road and such light laws start making perfect sense. The lens of the LS 950 isn’t perfect, there are some stray beams refracted through the front surface of the lens heading off to the sides, but the bulk of the light is focussed into a box, lighting up what is ahead without “wasting” much light on places your wheels will never touch. It’s really an impressive amount of light, one hard to justly photograph.
The quoted output ranges from 6 – 70 lux, a unit that measured focussed light rather than raw light output, with five power levels to choose from. Along with multiple levels, the LS 950 has an excellent power meter displaying hours and minutes remaining in a given light level. With the larger than usual 4300 mAh lithium ion battery and excellent power management the light offers unparalleled runtimes, 6 – 45 hours. This is the light I would choose for a multi-day tour where recharging isn’t a solid option. The plus and minus light buttons are easy to use even with winter gloves, requiring an extended button push for on/off with a tap to move between levels. With a subtle backlight so you can always see the remaining battery life this is easily the best light meter I’ve ever used, with no glitches or jumps in the estimated time remaining that I’ve noticed. If only the buttons were also backlit, that would make it much easier to adjust light levels throughout the ride.
The LS 950 body is plastic and while sturdy feeling, perhaps not what I’d look for in a $230 light unit given the build quality of some of the competitors. It is not rated as waterproof but passes the faucet test of not shorting out under running water, I’d just make sure the plug for the USB recharging port is securely in place before heading into the eye of the storm. The bar mount uses a cam and strap similar to some seatpost fender mounts, fitting most any bar out there with enough side to side adjustment to keep the light straight ahead no matter the backsweep of the bars. I did find that the strap mount could slip forward over rough patches of trail — if you experience the same there is a more conventional bolt-on mount available. The same battery that gives the light the amazing runtimes unfortunately also gives the LS 950 some pudge around the middle, making the light a tight fit on some of my handlebar configurations — something to consider if you you run narrow bars or have a dashboard of accessories on your bike.
Overall the Trelock LS 950 is a pretty great commuter light, especially for those with plans to ride deep into the night a couple of evenings in a row. It is really all about the runtime and power management of this light, and the lens that maximizes the light output in just the right place. At 214 grams the LS 950 isn’t a lightweight addition to your race bike, but neither is it meant to be. For people replacing significant car trips the $230 retail price is easier to swallow than for sometimes riders, but this is a light that really appeals to people looking to maximize runtime and minimize recharging. If that is your goal, this might be your light. See more and order direct at the US distributor, Cantitoe Road.