- September 5, 2014
The show wrapped up a week ago, but we still have product images to share from Eurobike 2014. Fashionably late to the party, but still..
- August 12, 2014
Shortly after Surly introduced the Cross Check some fifteen years ago, someone chimed in that they wished for a disc brake option. After..
- August 5, 2014
The ABUS Granit Futura Mini U-Lock has been my go-to lock for almost three years now, locking up my bike on streets across the country and..
- August 1, 2014
Contents include: I Love Riding in the City, NAHBPC 2014, Amtrak Roll-On Service, Wolfpack Hustle Civic Center Crit, Product Spotlight:..
- July 14, 2014
In 1579 Sir Francis Drake landed in northern California and dubbed it New Albion. In 1976, Jack McAuliffe founded the now defunct New..
Shortly after Surly introduced the Cross Check some fifteen years ago, someone chimed in that they wished for a disc brake option. After introducing a bunch of other bikes and “inventing” a category or two along the way, Surly took a sideways glance at their cyclocross bike and gave us the Straggler. It’s like the Cross Check with all of the same rack and fender braze-ons as the current generation, but different. Larger tire clearance, disc brake mounts and a new horizontal dropout design for either single speed or geared drivetrains. And it’s even heavier at 7 pounds for the frameset, give or take an ounce. This isn’t really a bike for someone counting the ounces of anything but their beverage of choice.
The Straggler excels at no single thing, but is capable of many. It’s a disc brake ‘cross bike erring towards adventure and utility rather than speed and lightweight. The Straggler has clearance for up to 44 mm wide tire with full fenders, and builds up with as standard components as you can get for a versatile bike that can evolve as your interests change. I decided on a mix of ‘cross and mountain components—a 46/36 crankset, 12-36 cassette, riser bars, top-mount shifters and hydraulic disc brakes—for an all day, all terrain city explorer capable of wherever an aimless ride may steer. It’s 26.5 lbs as pictured, but I didn’t put any thought into lightweight spec, and there are some easy places to trim.
Describing the ride isn’t full of superlatives—it’s well-worn cyclocross geometry tuned for larger tires, “monstercross” as some may have it. The chainstays remain short (430 mm on my 59 cm sample) even with the clearance for large tires, with the ride height kept in check by the 72 mm bottom bracket drop, yielding a very stable ride with smaller diameter road tires, and a bottom bracket height in the normal range with the largest tires that will fit. I’ve not had any issues with my wheel sliding forward in the dropouts even without using the included screw adjusters. It has never felt particularly fast, but it’s a stable ride—the Straggler goes where you point it and keeps at it. What it lacks in speed in makes up for in fun. Rip it through the woods today, bolt on racks and head out for a few day tour tomorrow, ride it to work again next week. About my only wish for the bike would be a third bottle mount under the downtube for when the going gets extra thirsty, and maybe a pump peg.
Over time I’m sure this build will change, and that’s part of the long term plan. Changing tires and dropping the derailleurs doesn’t take much time in the stand, and makes for an entirely different ride experience. There are a lot of parts combinations to build a super commuter or dirt road tourer or something in between on the Straggler platform. Just don’t mistake it for a cyclocross race bike or fast-guy road bike and you won’t be disappointed.
The Straggler frameset is available for $600 in a remarkable ten sizes, 42-64 cm, in either Glitter Dreams purple or Closet Black. Newly announced is the Straggler 650b, a similar flavor in the betweener wheel diameter in eight sizes including the smallest Surly yet, 38-58 cm.
Sarah Pearman rides her Surly Straggler for transportation, endurance road rides like the 375 mile Crush the Commonwealth, and occasionally on the local singletrack. She had some things to report.
Disc brakes on a road bike are a game changer, especially for me as a small-handed human who has had serious difficulties getting my past bikes to stop with road levers and cantilevers. Given the “standard” frame specs—English bottom bracket, 27.2 mm post, 135 mm rear spacing—I was able to build mine from parts I already had.
Most of my struggles with bikes are related to fit since I’m just barely tall enough to ride a 700c bike and hate toe overlap. The 46 cm Straggler manages not to have toe overlap up to a 32 mm slick tire, which is better than some tiny bikes, but anything larger and I find my frustration level rise.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun with big tires—I can fit skinny 29” mountain tires on it, but it’s even better now that I’ve realized I can fit my 650b mountain bike wheels. It fits a 2.1” up front without significant toe overlap, and 2.0” in the back, for serious monstercross activities. Surly read my mind and just announced the 650b Straggler, which seems like it might fit me even better out of the box.
Hey, sometimes you can’t even GIVE away your old bicycle parts, so why not repurpose them into musical instruments? This dude will show you how.
Disclosure: I pre-ordered one of these FLUX packs through their initial Kickstarter campaign and have been anticipating it’s release for almost 1 year and a half now. Torch recently let backers know that after the release of the T1 helmet, the FLUX pack is almost ready to follow, but first they are pushing forward with a stretch campaign to grow their line of products. The pack will still be available to initial backers first, but you can also get a first production release through helping fund this stretch campaign as well. I’m really looking forward to putting this bag through it’s paces and reporting back with a review.
Between their usual wide breadth of stock colors and now the latest limited edition Nutcase Unframed artist helmet designs there is no shortage of different styles to choose from. The first run of Nutcase Unframed edition helmets features art by Sandra Ramirez from Columbia, Ray Moore from Germany and Todd Standish from San Francisco. In addition to the helmets, art panels will be on display in the Nutcase booth at Eurobike and Interbike, and auctioned off to benefit World Bicycle Relief.
We first showed you the Vier compact lock about a year back, and since then the design has been further refined and has hit Kickstarter for the final push into production. Perhaps not as quick to deploy as a u-lock, but it packs down much smaller thanks to the way that all four parts separate and fit into a small pouch. Click and twist the 14 mm shackles into the non-locking end body, then slide the body with the lock core on and go, just like the u-lock you’re familiar with. While compact, it’s not hte lightest at approximately 3.25 lbs. Eventually you’ll be able to order up longer shackle sections for securing multiple bikes in a garage or apartment, definitely an intriguing concept for home or work storage that is higher security than the braided cable so many of us rely on indoors. No lock is perfectly secure, and the Vier team has their mind straight on it, “Our main goal was to design a lock with the same level of security as a U-lock but in a compact form. VIER will protect your bike against lock picking, prying, hacksaws and bolt cutters. No lock on the market can protect us against angle grinders and hydraulic powered jacks.” Get in early for $65 at their Kickstarter and receive your lock by the new year.
Is there anything bike chains can’t be turned into? Hand-made one at a time by craft artists, Linda and Ann, in Oregon, these beautiful cufflinks are made out of reclaimed bicycle chains. Each cufflink starts as a used bicycle chain, before they go through a rigorous cleaning process in order to be hand brazed into these cycling inspired cufflinks. The four links are then brazed onto the brass base plate before they are given one final clean.
You can purchase these cufflinks through the online bicycle boutique, BicycleAge, out of Sydney Australia, for around $50 each. They come packed in a synthetic-leather case and are ready for wrapping and gifting.
If you are in Portland this weekend, don’t miss the 2014 Portland Design Works Omnium held at the Alpenrose Velodrome. $15 for adults to race, $5 for juniors, and free entry for the attendees. Head on down and enjoy some free BBQ, free rootbeer and free ice cream and watch a bunch of people go fast and turn left. Party down, wish I was there.
On August 16 all Womyn-identified folk are invited to ride with the third annual Clitoral mass in Los Angeles. More information at OvarianPsycos.com.
Kids bike company, Frog Bikes, is just over a year old and still growing strong. They’ll be making an appearance at Eurobike at the end of August, showcasing their 2015 line of high-quality bikes designed for a child’s physique. Mind you, these aren’t just cheap kick bikes, but solid rides with decent components and frames ranging from balance bikes to hybrid, road, mountain and cyclocross bikes for wee humans. Frog bikes utilize narrow and short-drop handlebars, easy reach gears and brake levers, and lightweight frames at an affordable price. They aren’t available in the States just yet, but it would be great to see a more diverse line of rides available for kids over here.
Dahon has recently announced their Explorers Program, and is looking for half a dozen riders to share how they use a folding bike to explore their world. Apply and you might find yourself with a new bike.
Cyclist are encouraged to submit a brief description of why they would be a perfect brand ambassadors for DAHON and how their stories could inspire others to incorporate bike into their lifestyle.
What makes the commute to work exciting?
Where will your DAHON bike take you?
How will a folding bike change the way you live, experience the environment on a deeper level and move around without constraints?
Submissions will be accepted until August 20, 2014 at email@example.com
A new urban-centric bike company with a stripped down aesthetic has entered the game. Crew Bike Co. out of Southern California offer frames starting at $149 and frame/fork sets at $399.
Crew Bike Co. is a new urban cycling and lifestyle company based out of Southern California. Although a relative newcomer to the scene, the team behind Crew Bike Co. has over 20 years combined experience in the cycling industry. Geared towards urban cyclists, Crew Bike Co. incorporates a distinctive mixture of cycling technology and race-inspired design combined with a modern street aesthetic.
Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
Omaha Nebraska, a great town to raise kids and bike, if you like going North-South. Unfortunately, I live West and must go East to get to work. Very active in the bicycle world with a City Coordinator, great organizations and a plethora of shops covering the bike spectrum. It also helps we are next door to RAGBRAI and minutes from the Taco Ride.
What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
Besides Omaha? Fayetteville/ North Cacalackey, was fun as day after day I proved it was faster to ride my bike to work (Ft. Bragg) than it was to drive, and minutes from urban were winding rural roads that begged to get hammered.
Why do you love riding in the city?
Riding in the city keeps you conscious, having to think a bit faster than the next cager coming at you and anticipate you moves ahead of time for the interplay of traffic. And to be in the right gear for the next hill.
Or just say whatever you want:
Dawn is breaking as I dodge another pothole I’d never noticed in my car. Commuting by bike enhances my awareness of the road, life stirring in the city, the golden light reflecting from buildings as the Sun cranks up for another day. Working third shift, my ‘morning’ commute starts at 8:00 PM, pouring coffee from the press into a thermos, checking the work clothes a last time, tightening the straps and turning on the lights. I clip in and am off on an 18 mile ride through West Omaha, then Grover and Vinton, discovering new communities on this route. A little boy waves to me from his porch and I wave back through the gathering dark, a blinking shape cutting through the night. I change at work and start bleeding off job stress with the first pedal stroke, heading west in the morning, cranking up from riverside towards home. Traffic starts to thicken as cagers rush eastwards to work, but stays light in the westbound lane. I dodge potholes and morning sprinklers, sprinting for lights and euphoric by the time I arrive home, warm and stress free, almost disappointed to end the day by going to bed.
We’re getting one of these in for review soon, but until then check out the Pixel on video.
The ABUS Granit Futura Mini U-Lock has been my go-to lock for almost three years now, locking up my bike on streets across the country and throughout Western Europe. Whether making my daily Post Office run or locking up in high theft cities like New York, San Francisco and London, in every instance my bike has been there when I’ve returned, which is perhaps the ultimate positive review.
One only needs a lock better than the next person to avoid theft in most cases, and the sense to only lock to sturdy immovable objects, and with this mini u-lock from ABUS I’m fairly certain that in the vast majority of cases I have the next guy down outgunned. The reputation of German engineering is well-earned, and the family-owned ABUS lock company upholds the lofty national standards. The 11 mm shackle and case are made of a custom formulated hardened steel alloy with a double locking cylinder that requires a thief to cut the shackle twice in order to free the lock without a key. The top-end lock cylinder is pick and corrosion resistant—I’d know, as an unplanned back pocket lock ejection left one of my ABUS Granit Futura locks laying out in the rain and mud for a weekend before being retrieved, and working as well as ever. Each lock ships with a pair of keys and a key code card for additional keys, or for ordering an identically keyed lock. It’s hard to explain how convenient having a pair of u-locks using the same key has proven in high-risk theft areas.
At 690 g the ABUS Granit Future mini is the lightest high security mini-shackle lock I’ve used, beating similar competition by 300 g or more. Be forewarned however that at just 2.75” wide the shackle opening can be impossible to fit around certain parking meters or large diameter signposts other locks slide over. That said, over the years I’ve yet to find myself completely frustrated by the size—quite the contrary, it easily slides into pants’ rear pockets and my backpack and I’d prefer the lighter weight to larger shackle any time. Being made in Germany by well-compensated, dedicated employees with top-end materials and testing comes at a retail price of $85. There are less expensive locks, there are higher security locks, but this one fits my needs just right.
Cross Season is coming, but velodrome racing is still in full swing. Catch some of the action going down at the Encino Velodrome during the Ride The Black Line summer series every other Wednesday night through September 3rd.
This article from NSMB.com is weighted towards the mountain bike side of the bike industry, but some of these points are universally true:
Rule #1 – If the primary upgrade over last year’s bike is a new graphics package, think about looking elsewhere. If you buy that bike, when next years graphics package comes out your bike is going to feel old. Single colour paint schemes age better than the flashy shit.
Well, this is gnarly. Heavy Pedal’s Campbell’s soup/Merckx/Warhol/etc. bottle design, now available on their site for $11.99. I wouldn’t suggest putting soup into this…stick with water, or human blood.
City: Antwerp, Belgium
Claim to Fame: Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium behind Brussels. Eighty percent of the world’s diamonds come through Antwerp, where they are bought and sold between dealers from around the world. According to some, the fashion industry in Antwerp ranks with those of Milan and Paris.
History in 100 Words (or less): Local lore holds that Antigoon was an unfriendly giant who lived near the Schelde river. His job was to collect a fee from people who wanted to cross. You can’t pay the fee? Antigoon would cut off your hand and throw it in the river. Brabo was a brave young soul who found this act unacceptable. He gave Antigoon some of his own medicine before killing him. Brabo lopped off the hand of the mean giant and threw it into the river. From it grew the current city of Antwerp. The name, “Antwerpen” is actually a Dutch phrase that translates to “hand throwing.”
How much does your bike mean to you? Check out a sneak peek of a new line of Kryptonite locks designed by bike messengers.