- 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..
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.
There are a few bike registration services out there, but I’ve not seen anything quite like Bike Index. A free service that couldn’t be easier to use, Bike Index allows you to register your bikes into a searchable database, helping to match bikes with owners. Buyers can easily see if the bike they’re interested in is already registered, riders can easily prove ownership of a recovered bike. You can also securely register your lock key serial numbers for easy retrieval in case you lose your keyring along the way. Bike Index is relatively new, having recently reached a crowdsourced funding goal, but has a growing list of partner organizations and bike shops already using the service. Definitely worth a look, and whether or not you use Bike Index it’s a great idea to take photographs and log serial numbers of your bicycles in case of theft so you can claim them if they are found, or make an insurance claim if your bikes are covered under a homeowners or renters policy, or one of the growing number of bicycle specific insurance policies out there.
Cycling Legalese is our online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides.
People love to listen to music and it comes as no surprise that some people like to do it while riding their bicycle. What is the legality of combining bikes and music? It all depends on how and where you’re listening.
Q:I like listening to tunes while I ride. Is that illegal?
Generally, listening to music while riding a bike is not illegal. However, to know for sure whether doing so is okay or not, two questions must be answered: 1) How are you listening to your music? 2) Where are you?
If you are listening to music via a set of speakers mounted on your bike, then you are okay everywhere. I am not aware of any jurisdiction that bans the use of speakers on bikes for the purpose of listening to music, or anything else for that matter. (Of course, if you’ve got the Justin Bieber cranked to ear splitting levels you may run afoul of local noise ordinances and good sense/taste.) When it comes to bikes and music, what some jurisdictions regulate is the delivery method; in other words, headphones.
A few places have outlawed the use of headphones while biking on public roadways; for example, Florida and Rhode Island. Others have said it is okay so long as you have a headphone inserted in one ear only. California law states, “A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs, in both ears.” New York also allows headphone use in one ear only. In many states, it is perfectly legal to wear headphones while biking, such as in Oregon and Washington D.C. In 2011, an Oregon legislator, Rep. Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley) proposed a bill that would have made it illegal throughout the state to operate a bicycle “while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds.” Doing so would have resulted in a $90 penalty. Apparently, he told BikePortland.Org that he got the idea for the bill when he “just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, ‘He could get run over.’” He explained that to him it was “a safety issue.” The bill went nowhere.
Interestingly, in some places the applicability of headphone prohibitions to cyclists is misunderstood. That is the case in my home state, Illinois. Some well intentioned folks claim that it is illegal to bike with headphones here. For example, the City of Chicago states on its website that cyclists should never use earphones because it “is not only dangerous, it’s illegal.” That’s wrong. Neither city ordinance nor state law ban the use of headphones while riding a bike. The only statute that references headphones (it actually uses the term “headset receivers”) states that, “No driver of a motor vehicle on the highways of this State shall wear headset receivers while driving.” The emphases are mine. Under Illinois law, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle. Therefore, the prohibition of headphone use does not apply to people on bikes.
Perhaps the more interesting question is not whether it is legal, but whether it is wise to bike on city streets while wearing headphones. There are some important reasons not to do so. There are so many things the urban bicyclist must be attuned to while riding in the city: Trucks, cars, buses, potholes, pedestrians, lights, signs, little dogs, the weather, etc. It may be unwise to diminish one of your senses while navigating a bicycle through this gauntlet of hazards and distractions. By plugging your ears and pouring music into your fully occupied brain while biking you might increase your chances of getting into an accident. In fairness, however, I am not aware of any studies that suggest this is true. Our firm has not seen many cases in which the bicyclist’s use of headphones caused or contributed to cause a crash. On the other hand, if you are involved in a crash, particularly with a motor vehicle, and were found wearing headphones you may harm you chances of successfully seeking compensation for any injuries you receive. Certainly, the driver and his/her attorney will try to suggest that your inability to hear contributed to cause the crash and that compensation should be denied or at least diminished. You and your attorney would be best off not having to deal with the headphone issue should it become necessary to bring a claim or lawsuit.
I am cynical about the motives of those who would make biking with headphones illegal, like Rep. Schaufler in Oregon. I tend to doubt that the safety of the cyclist is the motivating factor behind such proposals. I suspect that the real concern is preventing sound impervious cyclists from slowing motor vehicle traffic. In other words, when I honk, get out of my way. Biking through the city should be pleasant, and for many, listening to music is a great way to ride and feel relaxed. Still, the benefits of headphone use are probably outweighed by the risks.
Cycling Legalese Question Submission Form:
Nothing contained in this column should be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein may or may not match your individual situation. Also, laws differ from place to place and tend to change over time. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction. This column is meant to promote awareness of a general legal issue. As such, it is meant as entertainment. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.
It can be the small parts that truly make or break an unorthodox bike build. Retrofit deraileur hangers are out there for fitting gears to a single speed or track frame, but not always the easiest to find. Add another to the list with this one from SunXCD, a chain tug with an integrated hanger. Use it alone on a single speed build, or bolt on a derailleur (and jam some gears back there) for a multispeed project. Depending on your rear triangle spacing, such as 120 mm on most track bikes, you may want to look into an older 5 or 6 speed freewheel hub for such a project to minimize how much respacing the frame will potentially require. Or maybe you’re just looking to add a 1×10 drivetrain to an old single speed cross or mountain frame, an easier prospect in most cases. I like products like this that open up project possibilities.
And just who is SunXCD? From an introductory piece we ran last year, “The SunXCD logo might look familiar as it clearly draws on the 1980s Suntour branding, appropriate as the man behind the new SunXCD is Junzo Kawai, former president of Suntour Japan during it’s heyday. There was a time when Suntour was making some of the finest Japanese components available, and they are credited for the wide introduction of indexed shifting even if not the true originators of it, and Junzo Kawai was at the helm during much of it.”
SunXCD parts are available from any shop that has a Merry Sales account, with this chain tug derailleur hanger combo unit retailing for about $40.